DWTS’s Victoria Arlen Thought She Wouldn’t Make It to Her 16th Birthday After She Was Paralyzed By a Rare Condition

 

Victoria Arlen didn’t think she’d live to see age 16.

As she lay paralyzed in a hospital bed due to the effects of a rare autoimmune disease that left her bedridden for four years, the teen mentally prepared to die.

“You know when you’re fading away, and I just knew,” the ESPN host and Dancing with the Stars contestant says in the current issue of PEOPLE. “I couldn’t communicate, but in my own way I had to say goodbye to my family.”

But just three months after turning 15, Arlen woke up to find she’d regained control of her eyes.

“From there it was miracle after miracle,” she says of regaining feeling in the upper half of her body.

(Dr. Michael Levy, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins who has treated Arlen, says only a third of patients recover from transverse myelitis like Alren has. Dr. Levy says Arlen’s age and overall good health prior to her transverse myelitis episode was a major factor in her ability to recover.)

For more from Alren — including how she survived two years conscious but unable to move — pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Ready to make up for lost time, Arlen set lofty goals for herself: first winning gold as a swimmer at the 2012 Paralympic games in London and then defying her doctors’ expectations by learning to walk again.

The latter goal wouldn’t be achieved until November 2015 after months of intense physical therapy, but that triumph allowed Arlen to set her sights on fulfilling her childhood dream of competing on Dancing with the Stars.

“This is the first year that I’m not fighting to get back what was taken away from me,” says Arlen, who spent her 23rd birthday dancing a rumba with Valentin Chmerkovskiy on the Sept. 26 episode of the ABC reality dance competition. “This is the first year that I can finally just live — and I’m going to make it a full life.”


PEOPLE.com

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Paralyzed ex-Olympian walks wife down the aisle (Yahoo Sports)

Jamie Nieto (AP)

Step by halting step, former Olympic high jumper Jamie Nieto made good on his vow to walk wife Shevon down the aisle after their wedding Sunday.



Yahoo Sports – Top News

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Paralyzed Ex-Football Player Chris Norton Walked Again, Graduated And Got Engaged. How Was Your Weekend?

Chris Norton, a former college football player who broke his neck during a game in 2010, said he was given a 3 percent chance of ever regaining movement below his neck.

Over a life-changing weekend, he beat the odds and then some.

On Saturday, he got engaged.

Then on Sunday, Norton walked across the stage at his graduation from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, accomplishing a goal he had set over a year ago. Assisted by his fiancee, Emily Summers, Norton rose from his wheelchair and took steps in front a cheering crowd to receive his diploma in business management, KCCI reported.

It was like my gameday,” Norton, 23, told The Des Moines Register. “I was in the zone, focusing on what I needed to do and not worrying about anyone or anything else.”

According to NBC, Norton has gradually regained movement while in therapy. He’s also launched a foundation called SCI CAN to help finance high-priced equipment for people recovering from spinal injuries. In part to provide inspiration for spinal cord injury patients, he publicly declared he would walk at his ceremony. He completed school a semester early to train for the big moment, the network reported.

When “gameday” arrived, Norton was ready. “So many people, including myself, fear failure, it’s human,” he said to the network. “But if you do everything in your power to accomplish your dreams, at the end of the day, you can be proud and happy with how far you’ve come.”

Getting a life partner and overcoming the odds on graduation day added up to 48 memorable hours. But Norton says we ain’t seen nothing yet.

This is just one chapter of my life that just got closed,” he said in his YouTube graduation video. “And there’s still so many things I can accomplish.”

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