Victoria Arlen's life drastically changed in 2006 at the tender age of eleven when she developed two rare conditions known as Transverse Myelitis and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis. This was an incredibly rare scenario and Victoria quickly lost the ability to speak, eat, walk and move. She slipped into a vegetative state in which doctors had written her off as a lost cause. Victoria spent nearly four years “locked” inside her own body completely aware of what was going on, just unable to move or communicate. Doctors believed there was little hope of survival and recovery was unlikely. Victoria, however, was not ready to give up. In 2010 after almost four years, she began the nearly impossible fight back to life. Learning how to speak, eat and move all over again.
Victoria went on to exceedingly defy the odds and not only recovered but has since become an accomplished Motivational Speaker, Television Host and Swimmer. Her swimming resume includes three Silvers and a Gold medal from the London 2012 Paralympic Games as well as multiple World, American and Pan American Records.
In April 2015, Victoria made the transition from professional athlete to sportscaster and joined ESPN as one of the youngest on air talents hired by the company and reports and hosts across all platforms. In the Spring of 2016 Victoria defied yet another odd and after spending nearly a decade in a wheelchair paralyzed from the waist down was able to learn how take one step after another and eventually not only did she learn how to walk but within a year and a half in the Fall of 2017 she learned to dance as a contestant on Season 25 of Dancing with the Stars. Victoria and her dance partner Val Chmerkovskiy quickly became fan favorites.
Victoria is also carrying out her dream of helping others, serving as the Founder and Co-Chair of Victoria's Victory Foundation, a nonprofit that assists those with mobility challenges to achieve their own personal victory.
Victoria’s book, titled Locked In, hit stores worldwide in August of 2018. In July of 2019 in addition to her ESPN duties, Victoria was announced as the new host of American Ninja Warrior Jr, Season 2 which launched in February 2020. In the last year Victoria has branched into more creative spaces in both acting, producing, fashion and hosting with a variety of projects currently in the works.
Interviewed by our Different & Able President and Founder, Alexandra Nicklas, Victoria opens up about the importance of creating a bucket list, the smartest ways to stay physically strong, and her tactics for facing and embracing challenges. In the interview, viewers can clearly see that Victoria continues to push the boundaries of what others see as impossible. Victoria has become world famous, not only for her story and accomplishments, but for her message: “Face It, Embrace It, Defy It, Conquer It.”