"Have you ever tried closing your eyes and navigating through your daily life? Well, that is what I do every day. I may not be able to see, but I still have a vision."
Introducing: David Brown
On January 19, 1994, at fifteen-months-old, David Brown was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, a rare disease which could cause swelling in the lymph nodes and attack an individuals inner organs. However, in David's case, this disease affected his eyes which resulted in him developing glaucoma. At six-years-old after several eye surgeries in attempt to sustain his sight, David's ability to have 20/20 vision began to diminish.
"I remember me being able to see one moment and then completely nothing the next. I was frustrated, confused, and angry; I was in complete denial."
When David was thirteen years old, the daunting reality he was hesitant to face was confirmed by his doctor at that time. "The doctor told me that there was no help for my sight. No surgery or medicine could bring back what I had lost. I seriously felt like all hope was lost." However, though David may have lost his sight, it was through this experience where he developed a new vision for his future.
After moving to St. Louis where he attended Missouri School for the Blind, it was there where he was introduced to the sport of track. David was remarkably quick, a natural born athlete many would say and was recognized by his coach, for his amazing speed.. After a great amount of success in various national track meets, David caught the eye of the US Paralympic Recruiters. Upon successfully completing several mainstream events and him continuing to impress the US Paralympic coaches with his consistent progress, dedication, focus and work ethics, he made the 2011 Para Pan American team and was later offered a full time housing and training opportunity at Chula Vista Olympic Training Center (now the Elite Training Center) in Chula Vista, California. "I moved to California in May of that current Olympic year, and a month and a half before trials. I was so out of shape that my coach was pretty much cramming a whole season into one month. Training twice a day, six days a week, plus lifting three days, Brutal!"
But on June 29, 2012, David was named to the 2012 Paralympic Team. In London, he broke the American Records in both the 100m and 200m events and was placed in the Top Ten.
Subsequently, in 2013, David took on a new challenge by adding the 400m to his list of competitive races. He earned himself a Silver medal and also ran an American record time.
In 2014, focusing more on speed for the 100m and 200m races alongside his guide Jerome Avery and being coached by Brazilian middle distance legend Joaquim Cruz, David became the first man in his class to run sub 11 seconds, when he ran 10.92 seconds at a meet in April in California, USA. And if that weren't enough, on that same day after setting his 100m record, David also broke the 200m record, finishing in 22.41.
In 2015, David competed in both the Para Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada and the World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Alongside Jerome Avery, David received his first gold medal in the 100m and 200m at the Para Pan American games and broke both of the American Games' records. In October, David received Gold in the 100M at the 2015 World Championships and broke another game's record with a time of 11.04.
In 2016, David arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and put on a show for his audience! His four years of training were evident as he crossed the finish line in the men's T11 100m as the new Paralympic champion and record holder with a time of 10.99. (see media tab for video.) "The celebration afterwards was one to remember. I remember running back towards the finish line hands raised yelling thank you Jesus out loud and Jerome on my back his hands in the air, going over to my family who was able to be there with me in that moment and grabbing the flag, me breaking out with some moves after the whole thing. I was excited to say the least." David however hurt himself in the 200m race which effected the outcomes of both that race and the 400m.
And in 2017, David headed to London, England to compete in the World Championships where he earned himself another gold medal in the 100m and a silver in the 200m.
It is safe to say that David is an extraordinary athlete when you take into account his combined strength, passion, athleticism and his ability to change perceptions by eradicating the stereotypes that individuals with disabilities often times become associated with. However, David is not only a spirited and an undoubtedly successful athlete, but he is also a person of ambition, dreams and visions.
What are his dreams post track?
David is currently a full-time student exploring his interest in massage therapy. Understanding the need to keep your body in as best shape as possible, he is passionate in educating others as well and providing a service that not only helps aide in stress and tension reduction, blood circulation and normalization for the bodies tissues, muscles, tendons and ligaments, but it allows him to share his knowledge and skills with those he may encounter from his own personal experiences. His desire is to one day open his own massage therapy clinic. He is expected to graduate with his licensing and certifications in 2018.
David is also an inspirational speaker and an activist for those with disabilities. Having made appearances on news stations, radio shows and have participated in statewide events such as the Trolley Run in Kansas City, MO, he uses his influence to courageously pour encouragement and motivation into the lives of others by reminding them of one simple phrase that says, "anything is possible, if you just believe."
David is such an outstanding person in having both a lion heart and a humble spirit. He reminds many people that individuals with disabilities can dream the same dreams and have the same vision as everyone else, and that they too can be competitive in this world and successfully accomplish all of their goals and dreams limitlessly just like anyone else.
"I'm just another person whose trying to be something greater than what I am."