Our lives are made up of experiences that teach and inspire us. Victoria Arlen’s journey gave her a sense of gratitude and the desire to give back; the result, Victoria’s Victory Foundation. While her journey is far from over, here is a glimpse of the challenges that inspired her to help people achieve their own personal victories.
Born Boston, MA the girl of triplets
Begins swimming with the Exeter Swim Team; she had begun dreaming of winning a gold medal starting at age five.
Unidentifiable pain begins, beginning the decline in her health.
May – July 2006
Her body begins to slowly shut down; leg dragging as she begins to lose use of her legs, she is becoming cognitively impaired, head and neck weakness, and trouble swallowing.
She is in and out of hospitals searching for a diagnosis.
Due to paralysis from the waist down, she begins life in a wheelchair.
She slips into vegetative state unaware of her surroundings and loses her memory due to brain inflammation. She is placed on a nasal gastric tube for feeding. Her family moves her out of the hospital to care for her at home.
October 2006 – April 2007
In and out of hospitals and rehab facility.
January 2007 – Sept 2008
Regains ability to speak and function while wheelchair bound, battling numerous physical limitations, cognitive disconnect and amnesia.
Neurological decline continues as hands begin to curl in and lose function and she loses her ability to speak.
Due to onset of myoclonic seizures, hospitalized once again.
A diagnosis of Transverse Myelitis is finally given; there is still no medical explanation for her vegetative state.
During hospital stay, she becomes aware of surroundings and memory returns however she has no ability to communicate. She is now suffering from “Locked In Syndrome”
Victoria returns home for long term care.
Hospitalized due to severity of seizures.
Ability to blink first form of communication – in hospital
Attempts to speak and sign and beginning to gain awareness
Begins speaking and regaining strength (still not eating)
Introduced back to swimming pool by brothers William and Cam.
Regains ability to read.
Starts school again at Exeter High School after missing four years.
Begins swimming independently with local teams.
January – July 2011
Catching up in school, swimming, and competed on US Women’s National Sled hockey team.
Swam in first Paralympic style swim meet, sets sights on London 2012 but was told she did not have a chance because she entered training too late.
Competed in first Paralympic style meet and broke her first American record and qualified for the Paralympic time trials.
Began training with swim coach John Ogden in Beverly MA – North Shore Sharks
Broke first world record (800 Freestyle)
Broke two more world records at the Paralympic swimming trials and earned a spot on Team USA for London 2012
August – September 2012
Swam for Team USA in London (age 17) and won three silvers and a one gold, and set new Paralympic and World Record.
Completed high school in three years and graduated on time with triplet brothers.
Nominated for ESPY - Best Female Athlete with a disability.
September – November 2013
Discovered and trained at Project Walk in California.
The Arlen family begins mission to bring Project Walk to the East Coast.
Motivational speaking tours and going to college while suffering health set backs.
Project Walk Boston opens doors and Victoria begins training full time
Job offer from ESPN as reporter.
Makes ESPN debut at Special Olympic World Games in Los Angeles.
While on the treadmill, a flicker in Victoria’s right leg is observed after months of hard work and hours of training at Project Walk, Boston.
Signs contract with ESPN and begins splitting her time between Bristol CT and Project Walk. She begins using leg braces and crutches, leaving her wheelchair after ten years.
Begins walking without crutches.
Lands book deal with Howard/Simon & Schuster.
Launches Victoria’s Victory Foundation.
Joins cast of Dancing with the Stars.
For the rest of the journey, stay tuned….