A Bahamian woman who lost her leg to cancer and went on to defy odds and inspire many has been named Godmother of Royal Caribbean International’s new, innovative ship, Odyssey of the Seas.
Erin Brown, a 41-year-old mother of two and a paratriathlete competing at the international level, will accept the honour of blessing Odyssey at its naming ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday, Nov. 13.
“From the moment we heard Erin’s story, how her courage and determination inspired others and led to a more inclusive consciousness about succeeding with disabilities, we were moved and knew she was a natural choice for Godmother of our newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “A Godmother serves as the guiding spirit of the ship and brings good luck and safe travels to its guests and crew who sail on board for years to come.”
“Mind over matter"
During her time as a collegiate track and field athlete, Brown was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma after suffering a fall that resulted in a broken leg.
After more than a year of chemotherapy, her tumor showed no signs of shrinking, and Brown made the decision to amputate her limb above the knee.
Brown, who watched her own mother struggle for five years before losing her battle with lupus linked to cancer, knew she had to keep going because her family depended on her.
“Mind over matter,” she repeated. And then, she reinvented herself.
She said she recognizes now that her disability was a signal to start over. The first time she completed the 100-mile cycling event in The Bahamas, Ride for Hope, to raise money for cancer research, education and prevention, she led a group of adaptive athletes who heard the thunderous applause and cheers from the crowd that had witnessed Brown achieve what few with two legs could on hilly terrain.
“A sudden change like the one I experienced is just an opportunity to rebrand yourself to yourself and to society. All those skills you had before – you still have them,” said Brown, who has gone on to become an advocate for rights for the disabled and works at the University of The Bahamas as the compliance officer and counsellor for those living with physical disabilities.
“Having Erin as our Godmother is a fitting way for us to pay tribute to The Bahamas as well,” said Bayley. “Royal Caribbean’s very first international destination was The Bahamas more than 50 years ago. To this day, Nassau remains one of our most popular ports of call, and our private island destination – Perfect Day at CocoCay – remains a top pick for our guests. We are excited about this ceremony and honouring our longtime partners as well as the newest Bahamian-flagged ship in our fleet.”