Face it. Embrace it. Defy it. Conquer it. These are the words that Paralympic Gold Medalist and World Record Holder Victoria Arlen lives by every day. At the young age of 11, the lifelong swimmer and athlete fell ill with Transverse Myelitis, a rare viral disease that left her in a four-year long coma and without use of her legs for nearly 10 years. Unbeknownst to those around her at the time, Arlen could hear the conversations going on in her hospital room while she was in the coma as doctors expressed losing hope for any sort of improvement in her condition. However, with unwavering support from her family, her health improved tremendously.
In June of 2010, Arlen, determined to reach her childhood dream of competing in the Olympic Games, returned to the pool for the first time in years. In the spring of 2012, not only did she participate in four events at the London Paralympic Games, but she also took home one Gold and three Silver medals while also setting a world record in in the 100-meter free.
Following her successful and inspirational recovery, Arlen has since become an on-air TV personality with ESPN. She has reported for numerous sports programs, including X-Games, Invictus Games, The ESPY Awards, Special Olympics World Games and SportsCenter.
Her dedication, charisma, and inspirational story has not gone unnoticed. Once in the public eye after the 2012 Paralympic Games, the 21-year-old came to symbolize a beacon of hope for many. Since then, she has presented as the keynote speaker at many functions, including for TEDx and several Fortune 500s, like Disney, Pfizer and Liberty, sharing her remarkable story across the country.