Oprah's Big Give Contestants
Watch Eric's video bio
Eric lives in Venice Beach, California, and is the founder and CEO of Can-Do, a nonprofit organization that enables people who make charitable donations to actually see how their money is being spent. "I always wanted to create an outlet that is all about accountability," he says. "It's important for donors to see where their money is going, which is what Can-Do is all about."
After graduating from Florida Atlantic University, Eric moved to New York City, where he worked as a model and actor. In 2004, after the Salem, Massachusetts, native moved to California, he was in a car accident that he says changed his life in an unexpected way. "It sounds crazy, but getting hit by that drunk driver was like winning the lottery for me," he says. "I got money from a settlement that allowed me to finally do what I'd always dreamed—give back in a big way." Eric took his settlement money, and, instead of having surgery to repair his orbital eye socket, he headed to Sri Lanka to help with the tsunami disaster relief. Just months after returning home, he spent a year in the Gulf Coast working for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"When I heard this show was with Oprah, I knew it would be special," Eric says. "Everybody wants to give back, but people just don't know how. I was confident that this would be a great opportunity to show people the simplicity behind giving and inspire them to do the same."
Giving Back Moment: In 1998, I went to visit a friend in Namibia, Africa. Before I left, she told me that it gets cold and many of the kids there don't have much, so I started a clothing drive at the bar where I worked. Seeing the children's reactions when I gave them the clothes was amazing—they were shaking from excitement, just because of a simple T-shirt! I videotaped the whole thing, and when I screened the video at the bar, it was equally amazing to see the reactions of the people who donated the clothes. They were mesmerized. That's when I knew I'd be doing this for a long time.
Movie : Man on Fire and Last King of Scotland
Type of Music/Artist: Anything cheesy
Dessert: Dark chocolate, or anything chocolate
Time of Day: Dusk
Vacation: Etosha National Park in Namibia
Memory: After the 2004 tsunami, body surfing with the villagers who were once terrified of the water
Snack: Anything chocolate
Weekend Activity: Work!