As a child, Victoria Arlen said, “I wanted to win a gold medal.” But nobody could have predicted the journey she would take to get that gold medal.
At age 11, she woke up with a pain in her right side. Within a few weeks, she lost her ability to walk, then talk or function at all.
Eventually, she lost consciousness. Victoria Arlen was in a vegetative state for three years.
“Two years later, I woke up inside a body that could not move. I was locked in.”
Doctors were unsure of what was happening but ended up diagnosing her with two rare autoimmune disorders.
She had regular seizures, and at this point, the doctors started telling her family that she would die.
One day, she made eye contact with her mother. While she was screaming, “I’m in here, don’t give up on me,” her mother saw a slight smile on the outside.
Her mother rushed by her side and asked her to blink if she was awake. Victoria blinked rapidly.
As time went on, Victoria felt a twitch in a finger. She started believing she would speak with her mom again, and she slowly managed to come back to life.
Every day, she experienced more movement and gradually learned to eat, speak, and move again. She threw everything she had into physical therapy, so thankful for the opportunity.
She studied hard to graduate on time. She started swimming.
Despite being terrified of being in the water without using her legs, she decided to go after her dream of getting a gold medal.
Everybody said it wouldn’t be possible, except her mother, who said, “don’t ever let anyone tell you can’t do something that you can do.”
As soon as Victoria put her mind to be one of the amazing Paralympics athletes, no one could stop her. She won one gold and three silver medals her first year for team USA Paralympics, and she also broke a world record.
She shared her story as a speaker, but she still had one goal left – to walk again. Her doctors told her that after 8 years of being in a wheelchair, it was near impossible. Still, Victoria knew what she could achieve.
She started physical training, and after 2 years of work, 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, she was able to walk with leg braces and crutches. Six months after that, she said goodbye to her wheelchair.
Victoria Arlen now joined ESPN covering sports events. She then accepted a spot on ‘Dancing With The Stars.’ Although unsure if she could dance, she decided to define her personal motto – FACE IT. EMBRACE IT. DEFY IT. CONQUER IT.
Victoria Arlen’s unique story shows us what is possible if we believe we could do it. Do you have something impossible today, be it your finance, job, or family life? Know that you have the strength to do it and keep plowing through. The sun is shining on the other side of the tunnel.
“At some points, hope was the only thing I had. When I began my journey toward walking again, I clung to hope like a life raft.”