Victoria Arlen, the on-air personality for ESPN, gold medal Paralympian swimmer, "Dancing with the Stars" alum, and author of the new book "Locked In," has overcome impossible odds after a health scare that could have ended her life.
At 11 years old, Arlen, an active kid full of personality, was suddenly struck by two rare neurological conditions, transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which caused inflammation in her brain and spinal cord and left her unable to speak or walk. “I was in a vegetative state for four years,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Eventually, she awoke from her vegetative state and began competitively swimming. After winning a gold at the 2012 Paralympics in London, she set her sights on walking. Having achieved that, she joined the 25th season of "Dancing with the Stars."
What’s incredible is that Arlen was able to dance despite having no sensation in her legs. “It’s really hard to describe what it means,” she says. “There’s just nothing there. I learned how to walk without feeling my legs.”
As far as how she was able to dance, it’s a mystery to her, too. “I don’t know how I do it. I just do,” she says.