Erin is a hugger.
I met her in the parking lot at Popopstudios. Introducing myself, I reached out for a handshake but she bounced forward giving me a warm hug instead. “I’m a hugger!” she announced beaming bouyantly. There is an undeniable vibrancy about her, she actually seems to glow.
Her boyfriend, Tametryo, had accompanied her and a few moments later her manager Roscoe Dames also arrived.
“Erin views her disability not as a disability at all. And she is interested in helping other people who view their disability as the end of the world,” said Roscoe while Erin was being photographed. “I am of the belief that what you give out is what you get back.” And Erin gives out a good, strong, positive energy.
“I’m purely solar-powered,” Erin stated.
She was actually referring to her love of athletics and being outdoors but it seems to describe her well in general. Bright, energetic, and driven forward by her own determination and spirit.
Erin told us about a time when she participated in a triathlon – the most difficult part, she revealed, were the transitions. Moving from swimming, to running, to cycling – it took serious mental focus to make the switches of motion with her prosthetic leg. Her transition to a new life with a prosthetic leg though, has been nothing short of admirable and she has made it look easy.
“I do everything I want to do, everything I used to do… I just do it differently,” she said with a casual shrug.
She lost her leg to bone cancer several years ago when she was twenty-three. Roscoe said she didn’t belabor the decision to amputate it when diagnosed with cancer. She refused to be dragged down by the disease… she said: “just cut it off, I want to move on from this.”
When she was 17, she had watched her mother whither away and die from cancer and she swore it would not happen to her. “I have too much to live for,” said Erin, “I was happy in life, and I wanted to keep being happy.” And she had an infant son to motivate her.
“I thought of people who sit at home and think ‘I can’t do it’ – and that’s exactly what made me go out and DO it.”
Now she motivates other people too. “I tell people… it’s going to be tough, you’re going to cry, you’re going to be sad at times, but you CAN do it. What you can not do is stay sad. You have to move, take baby steps, but just move. You gotta keep moving, because if you’re moving dust can’t collect on you.” Good advice.
“I don’t think ‘Why me?’ – I’m here and I’m going to have fun while I am here!”
She was a pleasure to meet.
These are documentary photos by Lisa Wells. They are not the portrait images.