Brittni Mason celebrates winning the Women's 100m T47 final at the IPC World Para Athletics Championships on Nov. 12, 2019 in Dubai.
What's Your Why presented by DeVry highlights athlete’s individual motivations that drive them to pursue greatness on their journey to achieve their Olympic & Paralympic dreams.
As most would imagine being born with Erb's palsy, a form of brachial plexus, that affects the nerves controlling the shoulder and arm motion, was very challenging for me as a child. Being different from everyone else was always a barrier I had to overcome.
At the young age of three, my parents were determined to increase the range of motion in my shoulder. They made sure I attended physical therapy for more than half of my life, and placed me in sports such as gymnastics, dance, swimming, basketball and track and field to help increase my chances of my shoulder not becoming immobile.
As a child, I was questioned a lot about my arm. Sometimes the questions would come off as rude and other times people were genuinely curious. At first, I was a little bothered by the amount of questions I was asked on a daily basis and it started to affect my self-confidence to the point where I even asked my parents if there was anything we could do to fix my arm so that people wouldn’t stare or ask me about it during sporting events. My parents always told me to embrace the way I was born because it was a part of who I am and that I should never try to change myself to please others. Looking back, I am so glad that they gave me this advice.
My parents were firm believers in not making excuses even though I had a disadvantage and to work hard even when no one is watching. I told myself at a very young age that I wanted to compete with kids with no disabilities and be just as great as them if not better. I never allowed my left shoulder and arm to become an excuse to not compete at a high level in sports. I wanted everyone to know that I was fully capable of achieving great things even with what most people would consider a disadvantage.
If I really think about it, being born with Erb’s Palsy was a blessing in disguise. Being doubted because of being different drives me to be successful and to pursue greatness. I would have never guessed that by the age of 21 that I would become a world champion and world record holder.
Since I began my running career at age 10, I have always wanted to be an inspiration to other athletes and show them that anything is possible. I am a firm believer that my purpose is to be an inspiration to young athletes and to be a role model and someone for them to look up to. Knowing that I can make a difference in someone’s life means the world to me.
I have always been involved in helping younger athletes train, and even obtained my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and I’m currently working towards a master’s degree in Sport Management and Business Administration at Eastern Michigan University. My dream is coach and/or opening my own training facility to work with Paralympic athletes and help them achieve their greatest potential in sports and in life.