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EXCLUSIVE: ESPN Host Victoria Arlen shares her miraculous journey of survival

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – As a kid, ESPN Host Victoria Arlen was always active.

"I loved playing sports, being with my family and my friends," said Arlen.

She’s a triplet and enjoyed goofing around with her brothers, as well as dancing and swimming. 

At age 11, Victoria had her entire life ahead of her, until it changed forever.

“I developed two incredibly rare neurological conditions that took away every ability I had … and I was pretty much written off as a lost cause," said Arlen.

Victoria lost the ability to speak, walk and move, slipping into a coma.

“The worst part of my experience was essentially doctors telling my parents they should give up and that there is nothing they could do … and that there is very little hope that I would make it … let alone ever come back to them," said Arlen.

Unable to function, Arlen could still hear her family’s words of encouragement, even though they couldn't hear her.

“By the grace of God, I came out of it at age 15 against all medical odds And had a very long, challenging path back to life, and then faced the world in a wheelchair," said Arlen.

Arlen believed this was not how her story was supposed to end. 

In 2010, after nearly four years in a coma, Arlen shocked doctors as she began to regain control of her body. 

“I’ve come pretty far … I managed to win a gold medal along the way I learned to walk," said Arlen.

From paralysis to a Paralympian, Arlen learned to dance as a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

“It was definitely a wild experience … I had only been walking for about a year .. not only to be asked to be on the show and to be a beacon of hope it was … truly an honor," said Arlen.

Now, Victoria is bringing her inspiration to Santa Barbara where she visited the Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, and will speak on "The Power Within" at the Lobero Theater.

“And her journey is not just one person’s journey, because all of us have our village … our camp of people, and she had her her family," said recreation therapist Rene Van Hoorn of Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital.

In her upcoming speaking engagement, Arlen hopes to highlight the importance of never giving up despite all odds.

“People that come out are just a beautiful cross section of our community … so we’re going to have former patients as well as staff members … just anybody," said Van Hoorn.

“I’ve never been to Santa Barbara! So I couldn’t think of a more fitting reason to be here and it’s really such an honor, and to be speaking on the theme of 'The Power Within' couldn’t be more fitting for for my journey," said Arlen.

Arlen went through what doctors call a miracle.

Today, as one of the youngest on-air talents ever hired on ESPN, Victoria Arlen hopes to continue fighting the odds while redefining what’s possible.

"I would never choose what happened to me, but I would never change it. I will use my voice … to change the world," said Arlen.

Tickets for tonight's 7pm event, The Power Within, featuring Victoria are still available online and at the Lobero box office.

Article Topic Follows: Lifestyle

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Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martellotti is a reporter for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Patricia, click here.


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