Celebrity
How Victoria Arlen went from being in a wheelchair to Dancing With The Stars
She turned adversity into strength and strength into inspiration.
Elijah Chan
04.11.22

“Don’t you ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do something that you can do.”

Victoria Arlen always had a grateful attitude towards life, even at a young age. Born as one of and first in a set of triplets, she considered herself the leader of her pack.

It was an attitude she carried with her as she lived her childhood with energy and vigor.

She had two goals.

To join Dancing with the Stars and win a gold medal.

YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero

But fate had other plans. One night, she found herself waking up in severe pain on the right side of her body. Her life would never be the same.

She contracted two auto-immune disorders.

The severe pain she felt that night didn’t leave. Then, one by one, she lost the ability to walk, talk, and function.

The last memory she had was being taken to a hospital in an ambulance.

YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero

When she came to, she woke up in a different kind of nightmare. She could still see and hear but had lost the ability to communicate.

Living felt like peering into reality through a window but losing all means to participate. Arlen, as she put it, was a prisoner in her own body.

Then, the seizures started.

She would often shake and rock violently. Her condition became so bad that her doctor suggested letting her go.

Her parents, especially her mother, refused the idea. But her mother’s decision to continue the fight pushed them to a turning point.

YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero

After being given a sedative to calm the seizures down, a miracle happened. Arlen turned to her mother for the first time.

She regained control of some of her functions, which gave her the chance to show her parents that she was there and ready to fight.

She didn’t waste any time.

She jumped right into rehabilitation programs so she could teach her body to move. A year later, she regained control of her upper body.

YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero

It was a difficult time for the family but Arlen, seeking to make the most out of her second chance, joined school and other athletic endeavors.

For someone who spent her younger years on the sidelines, she jumped into action when the opportunity presented itself.

She joined the hockey team which eventually led her to competitive swimming.

People said it was impossible to win.

But with her mother’s support, she tirelessly trained just six months before the London Paralympics. What she lacked in time she made up for with determination and courage.

YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero

In the end, she won.

She earned one gold and three silver medals. Upon returning home, she became a public speaker and was inspiring the youth to overcome their difficulties.

She was making the most out of her second chance but there was still one thing she needed to conquer.

She wanted to walk again.

So when her family learned of Project Walk, they flew to California to see their options. The program was promising but living on the other side of the country wasn’t feasible.

YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Modern Hero

Heeding the call in her heart.

Arlen’s mother called back home to mortgage their house. Then, they opened Project Walk Boston to help people like her daughter.

After strenuous training and rehabilitation, Arlen got the call she had been waiting for.

And while the journey to becoming a dancer was hard, she took to heart what her Dancing with the Stars partner said: “You lived. Show the world you lived.”

Tingnan ang post na ito sa Instagram

Isang post na ibinahagi ni Victoria Arlen (@arlenv1)

Despite the odds, Arlen refused to back down.

She turned adversity into strength, and strength into inspiration.

Tingnan ang post na ito sa Instagram

Isang post na ibinahagi ni Victoria Arlen (@arlenv1)

She has since written a book about her journey and opened an organization to help people overcome challenges.

And for people who are fighting their own fights, she has this to say: “Face it. Embrace it. Defy it. Conquer it.”

Learn more about Victoria’s incredible journey in the video below!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

By Elijah Chan
hi@sbly.com
Elijah Chan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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