WICT New England hosted an “Afternoon with Victoria Arlen” at the annual NECTA conference in Newport, RI on July 14th, 2016.

Sticking with our theme for the year, “The Keys to Leadership, Plan, Perform, Persevere”, we felt Victoria was the perfect embodiment of persevering against all odds.

In 2006, at 11 years old Victoria was diagnosed with two rare conditions, Transverse Myelitis and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis. She slipped into a vegetative state and doctors gave little hope of recovery or survival to her family, but neither Victoria nor her family were ready to give up, and after almost 4 years, Victoria slowly began to recover.

“Face it, Embrace it, Defy it, Conquer it”-Victoria Arlen’s mantra
– WICT New England (@WICTNewEngland) July 14, 2016

Victoria’s message is “Face it, Embrace it, Defy it, Conquer it.” She encouraged us all to know ourselves and to be uniquely us. She demonstrates being fearless every day, and told us nothing was scarier than when her brothers threw her into the pool to prove to her she could still swim without use of her legs, but that moment lead to Victoria participating in the Paralympics as a swimmer bringing home 3 silver and one gold medal for her country in 2012.

Victoria inspired us as she gave numerous examples of defying the naysayers. She let us know there are many people who will tell you something is impossible until you make it possible. You just need to listen to the one person saying, “Yes, you can do it.” If she and her parents had listened to Dr.’s originally after she became sick, she may have given up when she was locked in a vegetative state. If she had listened to the Paralympics coach that she had performed well in her first meet, but wasn’t ready for the Paralympics, she wouldn’t have won gold in London. Ultimately, if Victoria had listened to Dr.’s that walking after not using your legs for 10 years was impossible, Victoria and her parents would not have brought the first Project Walk franchise to the east coast.

In March 2016, after 10 years of battling back, Victoria was able to walk again.

“My suffering has created hope for others”-Victoria Arlen
– WICT New England (@WICTNewEngland) July 14, 2016

Victoria left us with the message to look at our setbacks as setups for something greater to come.