2012 Olympics: I'm part of Team USA and I'm heading to London!

Victoria Arlen - Team USA

If there’s one thing I could say that I liked most about competing in sports, it’s the idea that you are always competing against yourself – against your last “best.” This was my life before I got sick and lost the use of my legs. My disability has taught me a whole new level of what it means to overcome.

Small goals are still goals. There was a period of time where my goal was simply to live, and hopefully get better. I never stopped hoping. It meant being patient. When I came out of the vegetative state, but had no use of my legs, I needed to be patient. I can’t say that at that time I had great, lofty goals to go the Olympics; only to get better, to study hard and make up the years of school that I had lost.

Then came hope again. I read an article in a college alumni magazine about sports teams for people with disabilities. I thought, “You mean people with disabilities can still play sports?” This was my introduction to Northeast Passage, an organization that has changed our lives.

I joined a sled hockey team through Northeast Passage and began playing. Part of my training to stay in shape was to get back in the water and swim. I wasn’t sure I could swim without my legs. Through the encouragement of my coach Tom Carr, the suggestion of going to the Olympics was brought up.

Hope was born in me yet again.

As I’m on my way to the London 2012 Olympics to compete in the Paralympic Games for Team USA, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for those who believed in me and told me to never give up. They are my heroes. There has been a great gift given to me, and I am determined to commit my life to helping others live their dreams, despite their disabilities, or whatever obstacles they face. To believe in themselves enough to see their dreams come true.