Erin Brown has empowered people with disabilities internationally after her leg was amputated.
Brown, the Bahamian mother of two, founded Erin Brown Connects Advocacy and Inclusion Management– a firm that has fought for disability diversity, equity, and inclusion within healthcare services and the workplace. According to the firm’s official website, it would provide training, programs, and events to companies that haven’t yet implemented accessibility to disabled individuals like herself.
“After receiving an amputation, the access I enjoyed as a non-disabled person was removed with the surgery,” a quote by the 41-year-old on the site said. “The current reality is [that] people with disabilities face barriers, experienced increase inaccessibility the moment. They are living with a disability.”
As an ambassador of disability rights, Brown has presented to the UN, WHO, and PAHO as International Disability Inclusion Consultant for the Caribbean. In 2021, she became the first Bahamian, Black woman, and para triathlete selected as the face of Royal Caribbean Cruise International (RCCI). RCCI named her Godmother of their then-new Royal Caribbean ship Odyssey Of The Sea and blessed her at a naming ceremony in November.
The brave athlete lost one of her legs while battling stage four of deadly bone cancer, osteosarcoma. She was diagnosed with the disease during her senior year at West Virginia University. She studied business management, ran track-and-field, and served as president of the student body. However, that didn’t stop her from her passions.
“Being disabled is not a downgrade,” she said. “It is just an opportunity to rebrand yourself to yourself and to society. All those skills you had before – you still have them. Disabled people have rights because they are human – as simple as that. They are worthy, and they do not lack anything.”
Despite Brown’s sentiments, she said she still experienced disrespect as an amputee, which further pushed her to speak up for disabled people, challenging institutions that discriminated against them. She has also made it her duty to represent them in global forums and the sports world. Her hard work and determination made her the first disabled para triathlete from The Bahamas to compete on an international scale. As the only amputee at many events, fellow athletes would nickname her Bionic Brown.
“I saw a need to create a solution. After being ignored for years, being recognized by such entities–by national leaders, international organizations, and more–is truly a testament that people will eventually listen if you continue the fight,” she said. “It’s not about being known in women’s month, cancer awareness month, or disability awareness week because this is my daily life. I do it for those who need to be seen and heard and who don’t have the strength to fight. We matter.”
Lately, Brown has been busy writing a children’s book to help families cope with a loved one, especially parents, battling cancer and disabilities.