Stories

Victoria Arlen’s Story | How She Went From Paralyzed To dancing With The Stars

“You won’t believe the things you think of when you only have your thoughts. When you have only one muscle that works, your brain. Fully aware of your surrounding, fighting each moment just to take a breath.”
Victoria Arlen

Victoria Arlen's story

Today I will like to share the story of a lady who has gone through so many challenges.

Challenges which many of us are opportune not to have faced.

Despite all of these challenges, she went on to win 4 Paralympic medals, working as the youngest correspondence on ESPN and participating on dancing with the stars.

Today I will be sharing with you Victoria Arlen’s story.

Victoria Arlen’s story

victoria arlen's story

Childhood

Victoria was born on the 26th of September, 1994.

Arlen is a triplet, she has 2 brothers.

As a child, she loved living.

She had this intense gratitude for life.

She was asked what she wanted to do when she grew up and she said she wanted to win a gold medal.

At ten she also said she wanted to be on dancing with the stars.

And her mum told her ” you can do anything you set your mind to

Becoming Paralyzed

Victoria Arlen Paralysed

In 2006, at the age of 11, Victoria developed two rare conditions known as transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.

These conditions led to the loss of her ability to eat, speak, walk or move.

For four challenging years, Victoria was in a vegetative state.

She was aware of the environment around her but just unable to move and communicate.

Doctors predicted that her recovery was very unlikely.

What It Was Like Being Locked In

She experienced very frequent seizures.

Like I mentioned, Victoria was completely aware of what was going on in her environment.

Meaning she could hear doctors telling her parent, she will never recover, that they should accept the fact that she going to die and if she didn’t she was going to be in that vegetative state for the rest of her life.

Recovering

While Victoria Arlen was in that vegetative state, she made a promise to God.

She said, ” God if you give me a second chance, I promise to use my voice to make a difference in the world.”

Desperate to get the seizures to stop, in November of 2009, doctors gave are something to help her relax and that was the turning point.

She was able to lock eyes with her mom, which gave her mom so much hope, that she was still in there.

From there she slowly started coming out of the vegetative state.
She was 15 years old when she began recovering.

She had to begin learning how to eat, speak and move.

She worked so hard to regain her self as a way of dealing with post-traumatic stress.

More than a year later she had some control of her upper body but no control from the waist down.

She gradually worked her way up to using a wheelchair.

Rejoining society (Being Bullied )

Victoria Arlen Graduation

As she became able to walk around with a wheelchair, she also became determined to graduate high school at the same time with her brothers in 3 years

She had just a 5th-grade education before her illness.

So she began school and from the first day she was bullied.

Victoria says this was the one time she started feeling really sad about all that had happened.

She was able to succeed despite these challenges as a result of the support and believe given to her by her parents, siblings, and trainer.

She did succeed, she graduated at the same time with her brother.

Winning Paralympics Medals

Victoria Arlen Paralympics

In addition to her studies, Victoria found comfort in sports.

So she joined a program called Northeast Passage.

Which provided innovative sporting activities for people with disability.

She was convinced by her hockey coach to get into competitive swimming.

She was initially scared because she thought she couldn’t swim without her legs.

But she later fell in love with it, as this was freedom from her chair.

She was all in and decided to go for Olympic gold.

She was told no by everyone except her mom.

With just 6 months to train for the London, 2012, Paralympic competition, Victoria got to work.

She got a coach, who for the first time just looked at her like an athlete and not someone with a disability.

And within a month she broke a world record and went on to win 1 gold and 3 silvers medals at the London Paralympic games.

Keeping Her Promise

When Victoria Arlen returned home after winning several medals at the Paralympics, she decided to keep the promise she made to God.

She began public speaking.

She started sharing her story, in order to inspire others to pursue their dreams.

She Began Walking

Victoria Arlen Walks

She was told by doctors that after 8 years on a wheelchair, she had low chances of ever walking again.

Her mom recounts asking a neurologist about Victoria chances of walking again and he replied ” well, I won’t mortgage the house ”

Determined to defy the odds, Victoria and her mom went to California to start therapy at Project walk.

There training was going well but they couldn’t stay away from their family in California.

So Victoria’s parents decided to mortgage their house to open Project Walk Boston, led by her mom.

For nearly 2 years, Victoria Arlen trained tirelessly in hopes of reactivating her central nervous system.

Finally, on November 11th, 2015, she experienced a small flicker in her right leg.

With the help of her trainers, she kept working hard to train her muscles to move.

And by March of 2016, Victoria was able to walk with the use of leg braces and a crutch.

6 months later, she said farewell to her wheelchair for good.

Big break from ESPN

Victoria Arlen Espn

Victoria Arlen had been job hunting and had come across ESPN and she decided that was somewhere she would like to work.

Her work ethic was noticed by ESPN executives.

They decided to give her a shot as an intern.

After she proved herself, she was given a chance, as an on-air correspondence.

She became ESPN’s youngest correspondence.

She has traveled the world, covering sporting events close to her heart.

Dancing With The Stars

Victoria Arlen Dancing With The Stars

During Victoria’s evaluation at Project walk, she said she wanted to be the first person on a wheel on dancing with the stars and her trainer replied ” why not do it with your legs”

In the spring of 2017, Victoria Arlen got the call she had been waiting for since she was just 10 years old.

Then reality sunk in.

She had been walking only for about a year when she got the call.

She was still finding it difficult to wear regular shoes, now she had to dance in front of millions.

Victoria experienced a lot of panic attacks and nightmares during this period.

She was pushed and inspired by her partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy, who is a Ukraine- American professional dancer.

He reminded her to rise and hold her head up.

He would tell her ” you lived, show them what that means”

Victoria danced her victory dance to the semi-finals of dancing with the stars,  and she came fifth in the competition.

Still keeping her promise

Victoria Arlen Public Speaking

Victoria continues to keep her promise she made to God.

By giving motivating speeches

And opening Victoria’s victory foundation

In which she inspires people going through various types of hardships.

They also fund scholarships to individuals and organizations that help people overcome obstacles.

Know More

There is so much more, you need to know about this brave soul.

And you can find that out in her autobiography titled ” Locked In”

 

Victoria Arlen’s Quotes

Victoria Arlen Quotes

Before, we go, here are some lesson learned from Victoria’s story.

Lessons which will make us rethink giving up when it gets really hard, as we know it will.

1. You really find your faith when you are in that fire.

2. Every day I got to wake up, I was grateful. I found gratitude among all the grief.

3. The is power in believing in someone.

4. I watched the world go on in the sidelines for so long, so when I got the call to get into the game, I just got into the game and went for it.

5. I realized that people don’t get a second chance and God gave me my voice back for a reason and I am not going to waste it.

6. Accept the diagnosis, not the prognosis.

7. The only way you set yourself up for success is when you take that challenging step.

8. When you see that spark, you godda fan the flame.

9. Face it, embrace it, defy it and conquer it.

10. Shred hate and choose kindness.

11. For me not one breathe is taken for granted and if it is, then shames on me.

12. You kind of learn to rise but sometimes it’s a little scary to stand tall.

I hope Victoria Arlen’s story inspired you as much as it did me.

I will like to know, what inspired you the most about Victoria Arlen’s story?

As usual, my friend go be legendary

The Inspiring story of Dr. Tererai Trent

27 Comments

  • AV2001

    Hey there,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this article as you’ve provided us with lots of valuable information on Victoria Arlen. She is indeed a very strong woman, and it’s not easy to be in a position where she’s in today. She just proved that anything is possible, doesn’t matter what disabilities or health problems one has in life!

    Thanks a lot for sharing this blog with us. Keep up the good work!!!

    • Etah

      I am glad you found some value here.
      Victoria Arlen is really a testament that anything is possible with the right mindset and hard work

  • Koda

    What an inspirational story! It’s things like this that I like to stumble upon throughout my day 🙂 

    This is truly an inspiration for all. Victoria overcame extremely adverse conditions and beat the odds stacked against her! Despite overhearing she would never recover, she persevered onward. I think a lot of people reading this could learn a thing or two from this girl! Never give up, keep moving forward and always have your dreams in the back of your mind. It is incredible what Victoria Arlen has accomplished, so that gives the rest of us no excuse to not do the same. 

    Thanks for the awesome post! It is much appreciated! 😀 It has given me the shot of motivation I needed for the day!
    Koda 

    • Etah

      I am glad you found some value here, Koda.
      Yeah, you are right, Victoria’s actions really tell us no excuses.
      The challenges are not a reason to give up.

  • Amanda

    It’s amazing how far a seed planted at such a young age can go, what an amazing feat this girl went through to prove that you can beat the “odds”

    Also many people make promises to God and never keep them, its very inspiring that this girl continued to speak about her experience and follow through with that promise.

    12 incredible words to live by but its not easy to change the way we’ve been programmed or brought up to believe, I said its not easy I didn’t say it was impossible.  

    So glad I got to read this today, something I won’t forget and it backs up my progression of thinking positive and pushing on.

    • Etah

      You are very right, Amanda, changing our mindset is not easy but definitely possible.
      We just need to be willing to make the change.
      I am glad you found some value here, have a great day ahead

  • Geoffrey wurz

    Thank you for the post on Victoria Arlen. This is a heartwarming story. This story goes to show that anything you put your mind to you can accomplish it may not be easy but if you keep working at it it can become a reality. Everyone that has a hard time doing something that is not easy should read this story to renew their faith in whatever they are doing and persevere and keep pushing through. Thank you for the post It has inspired me to keep pushing through the bad times and keep my head up. Keep up the good work. 

    • Etah

      I am glad you found some value here, Geoffrey.
      Any worth doing definitely come with challenges and we need to be ready to overcome them in order to attain any level of success.
      All the best to you on the road ahead.

  • Richard

    I have often wondered how people who are faced with such enormous challenges are able to rise to the occasion and beat the odds when it comes to what they are able to achieve. Reading stories like this help normal people like myself to reevaluate their circumstances and be grateful for what we have. 

    This will be on my reading list for my next read. can you confirm that it is available for kindle download?

    Rich

    • Etah

      Yeah, it is really amazing to hear about stories like this.
      First, they fill me up with a sense of gratitude, then they inspire me to put in the work, no excuses.
      Yeah, the book is available to be downloaded on kindle

  • Rony

    Hi,

    Wow this articleis too good. By reading this i got too much informationabout her. I really love your article. It’s too much informative. Anyone can understand your article easily. This is a great article with lot of information about  Victoria Arlen. I’m going to share it with my friends and family. Thanks for sharing this with us. 

    • Etah

      I am glad you found some value here, Rony.
      Her story is really amazing and I am sure your family and friends will find some value from it too.
      Best regards o you

  • Sammynathaniels

    I couldn’t help reading this over and over again. Victoria’s story really shows that if one can put faith in whatever he/she does, then the sky will truly be her stepping stone. She defied medical hypothesis, she proved the world wrong by showing super-ability in disability. If she can do this, then anybody could. 

  • Kehinde Segun

    Hi there 

    This post is so so emotional and motivating. While reading this post, I nearly burst into tears. Truly, miracle exists. Having faith and never give up attitude will make one achieve so much. I couldn’t Belive Victoria could ever be anything in this life anymore will all her deficiencies. But she believes and kept going. The beauty of her story is that she never forget her promise to God. I will read this story over and over again to keep motivating myself that there is nothing impossible for me to achieve 

    • Etah

      I am glad you found some value here, Kehinde.
      Victoria’s story is really one to get you inspired.
      She truly succeeded to defy all the negative expectations of her future.
      Best regards

  • ajibola40

    Thanks for writing this story of  Victoria Arlen and how she  Went From Paralyzed To Dancing With The Stars. At the beginning of her story I really feel sorry for her, it rare to see someone of her condition pull through and also I learn a lot from this her story which is never to give up even when hope is lost and never look down on anyone no matter the situation, who knows the table can turn life later favor the person 

  • Seyi

    Thanks for sharing the article, it has really inspired my day. One of the things I discovered about her story is the fact that she was very relentless, through all the medical report, people’s believe about a person with such condition, she kept her Faith, she kept on believing and working very hard to achieve her dreams. She never saw her situation as a limit to what she can achieve or do in life. This is most inspiring for me.

    • Etah

      I am glad you found some value here, Seyi.
      Victoria’s story is one of overcoming so many challenges, many will consider impossible.
      Best regards to you

  • Adamuts

    Thanks for writing out this lovely article and I must say its a must for everyone to read and digest.life challenges are like a promotional examination, challenges brings out the best in us. I learnt a lot from this article of Victoria Arlen. There’s a word I love on this post  “For me not one breathe is taken for granted and if it is, then shames on me.Victoria Arlen is an overcomer. Am encouraged. Good testimony 

    • Etah

      Victoria is definitely an overcomer.
      She has a testimony which inspires us to not think of quitting and not take our lives for granted

  • Olalekan

    Thanks for sharing this story on Victoria Arlen. This is an inspiring and motivating story. I really feel for her with the challenges she faced while growing up and yet she put her trust in God to walk again. She never gave up on her dream and she focused till she achieved it. This passes a message that no matter what the are challenges that we face, ẹ we should believe in God and giving up shouldn’t be an option for us. Thanks for sharing Victoria’s story. It is really motivational. 

    • Etah

      Yeah, Her trusting in God was definitely a step in the right direction.
      I am glad you found some value here,
      Best regards to you.

  • Rgpratap

    Hi Etah,

    A truly very inspiring and motivational story about Victoria Arlen. For the persons who have faced many difficulties and hardly survive, they know the real value of life and promises.
    Please don’t mind, but I’m confused with the year of birth of Vitoria.
    Thanks for sharing this inspiring story. 

    Regards,
    Rgpratap.

    • Etah

      Hello Rgpratap,
      Yeah, Victoria has one of those stories which gets you thinking about your own life and all you have to be grateful for and how you don’t have any reason to give up
      Sorry about the mix up and thanks for letting me know.
      Victoria was born in 1994

  • Joseph Amigo Matonge

    An amazing victorious story portraying that with determination, a medical doctor cannot seal your destiny. It is full of inspiration and what Christians can call a string of miraculous events in Victoria’s life. I am reminded of my neighbor’s child whom the doctor had told his parents that he would be unable to speak normally for the rest of his life because of what they had detected three years after his birth with his twin sister.

    However, he was taken to a private boarding school in his ninth year. Fortunately, in his tenth year he showed signs of speech. Now he is eleven years and his speech has been improving steadily since last year. He enjoys singing a lot. I shall not be surprised if he turns out to be a singer.

    God’s wonders are unlimited and so I can give glory to God for the inspiring story about Victoria. What is marvelous about her life is that she has gone out to help many people through the establishment of Victoria’s Victory Foundation. I am sure many people are destined to be helped through this foundation. To God be the glory.

  • Etah

    Thanks for sharing this equally inspiring story.
    Yeah, Victoria’s story and that of your neighbor’s kid is definitely a testament to the numerous miraculous deeds of God, with our determination to make an effort.’
    Best regards to you

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