New Albany High School senior Eric Manias wants to inspire others to overcome their struggles with his senior seminar project, an autobiography titled How Much Heart Do You Really Have?

New Albany High School senior Eric Manias wants to inspire others to overcome their struggles with his senior seminar project, an autobiography titled How Much Heart Do You Really Have?

"I want all my readers to believe they have enough heart to carry themselves each and every day," he said. "I'm glad I (wrote the book) because it shows a lot about me and how much work I put into it."

Manias, 18, was born with pulmonary atresia, a heart disease in which the pulmonary valve -- which regulates blood flow into one side of the heart -- is not properly formed. Despite having three open-heart surgeries shortly after his birth and a bout with hemolytic anemia in high school, Manias said he has led a fairly normal life, including competing on the high school wrestling team.

He decided to write about overcoming his health problems when was searching for a project to satisfy the senior seminar graduation requirement at New Albany High School. He initially thought about coaching wrestling to fulfill the project requirements, but he instead was encouraged by guidance counselors and senior seminar advisers to write about his life .

"I never would have imagined writing a book," Manias said. "Reading and writing are not my strongest skills."

Once he found the courage to write, the book became more than the completion of a graduation requirement. Manias said he thought about how his story of overcoming health obstacles could be helpful to others.

"I want to inspire kids to keep doing what they want to be doing and not to let anything stop them," he said.

The result is the 60-page self-published book, which English teacher Lori Carter helped him edit. The book earned him the Paul Hatfield Award, one of the honors the high school gives to a senior seminar project each year.

Lori Cheney, the senior team adviser, said the Paul Hatfield Award was instituted 15 years ago in honor of Hatfield's senior seminar project, in which he researched his ancestors who were involved in the famous early 19th-century feud on the West Virginia-Kentucky border between the Hatfield and the McCoy families.

Cheney said Hatfield, who hadn't yet found his niche in school, devoted himself to the project and every Monday came to school with more stories to tell her. She said Manias also devoted himself to his book, working more than the 80 hours required and producing a project that he could use to help others.

"This award is given to a student who shows heart and passion when creating and executing his senior project," she said. "Eric's reflective autobiography ... was an obvious choice for the Paul Hatfield Award, as it exemplifies Eric's diligence and passion in overcoming difficulties. I am certain that like Paul Hatfield, who is now studying to be a teacher, Eric will follow his heart into a career where his appreciation for life and learning are shared with others."

The hardest part, besides the writing, Manias said, was finding time to write.

"It was hard and it was stressful, especially with wrestling," he said. "It was hard to find time to do the book on top of all the other school work."

Manias said he spent three to five hours in the evening writing two to three pages and sometimes ended up erasing it all. He said he had to learn to prepare himself mentally to write, even after a bad wrestling match.

Wrestling has been key to Manias' perseverance.

He said he played soccer for 11 years before telling his parents he wanted to try out for the high school wrestling team. He said his parents didn't think he could get clearance from his doctor but he surprised everyone by getting a good medical report just before his freshman year.

"All my tests were great," he said. "They told me I am a completely normal person, with no heart murmurs or anything."

Manias went on to wrestle but his junior year, he suffered another setback from hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia, a symptom of which is fatigue, is the premature destruction of red blood cells. By the time it was diagnosed, Manias said he could barely walk because his red blood cell count was so low.

"Normal levels are between 15 and 17; my count was 4," he said. "That was the first day of my junior year. I had to crawl into my Mom's room and they rushed me to the hospital."

Manias was put on a series of medications and told he probably wouldn't wrestle again. But again he defeated the odds, wrestling his senior year.

Manias said he plans to attend the Ohio State University in the fall and he has not decided on a major. But, he said, he may pursue sales of the book, which he would like to see sold through a local organization like Nationwide Children's Hospital, with proceeds benefitting heart research.

He is the son of Cindy and Emmanuel Manias.