Victoria Arlen spent four years in a vegetative state. Since then, she’s beat every odd.
Recovery can mean healing from a small scab or a minor injury, but for Paralympic gold medalist and former world record holder Victoria Arlen, it meant learning how to walk again after being paralyzed for 10 years.
When she was just 11 years old, Arlen was infected with transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis which made her slip into a state where for four years she could hear everything going on around her but couldn’t move any part of her body. During her vegetative condition, she focused on two things: creating a hefty bucket list and asking God for a second shot at changing the world.
Doctors told her she wouldn’t walk again and might live the rest of her life trapped in her body, but Arlen didn’t lose hope. In 2015 she took her first steps, and she hasn’t looked back since.“I am not one to give up the fight that easily,” Arlen says. “I was just determined to prove people wrong.”
Arlen, who is the latest hero to be featured in Jockey’s Show ‘Em What’s Underneath campaign, has no feelings in her legs today—which makes her appearance on Dancing With The Stars and her four Paralympic medals truly astonishing. A big part of her secret is dance which helped because it taught her not to look at her feet. She also pushed her mind and body to take on barre classes twice a day—even when she was told she would never have leg muscles again.
“I have to work out a minimum two hours a day to keep my legs going, because if I don’t move it, I lose it,” Arlen says. “I’ve had no feeling in my legs longer than I’ve had feeling in my legs. I think people almost feel bad in a sense like, ‘Oh my God, I am so sorry,’ but I’m like, ‘Why are you sorry?’ It hasn’t stopped me yet, and I don’t plan on it stopping me.”