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Paralympian Victoria Arlen talks to LI kids

ESPN announcer and Paralympic athlete Victoria Arlen with

ESPN announcer and Paralympic athlete Victoria Arlen with Kidsday reporters, (top left) with Kidsday reporters Uchenna Kelly, left, Mira Oncale-Tippit and, bottom, left, Amy Molina and Laura Roa, at the Jockey Store offices in Manhattan on April 25. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

Last week we met Victoria Arlen. She is a Gold Medal winning swimmer from the 2012 Paralympic Games. She is also an actress, model and motivational speaker. Her story and her success are incredible. She went from not being able to walk for years because of two rare conditions that compromised her immune system to dancing on stage in “Dancing with the Stars.”

As a young girl, she could not walk or talk. It was like she was trapped in her body. The only way she could communicate with people was by blinking. She was in this condition for many years and it took her nearly three years to recover. When Victoria recovered and went back to school she became a victim of bullying. Through it all, her mom helped her stay strong and believe in herself, and she learned to walk again. Her mom told her to be positive even though it was hard. Victoria’s mom liked swimming so Victoria started swimming with her mom. She also spent time with her dad playing hockey. After a lot of training, she was in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, winning three silver medals and a gold medal. We think Victoria Arlen is an amazing person. She inspired us to become better people. Victoria is now the next model and hero for Jockey and their campaign: Show ’Em What’s Underneath, Show ’Em your Jockey.

We met Victoria at the Jockey Store in Manhattan. We were escorted to the interview room where Victoria was waiting for us. She immediately introduced herself to us and this made us feel a lot less nervous about interviewing her. We asked her many questions including whether she always knew if she were going to be a swimmer/dancer? She said she always knew and that she told her mom when she was young that she was going to win a gold medal. She did not know she also was going to be a dancer. Victoria one day said to her mom that she wanted to go to a dance class. Her mom signed her up and so began that passion.

We also asked Victoria what her hardest struggle was after she came out of the state of not being able to move? Victoria replied it was hard to control the wheelchair.

Since she was on “Dancing with the Stars,” we were curious if Valentin Chmerkovskiy was a good coach? Victoria said he was good and that he pushed her hard even though she could not spin.

This interview showed us what an unbelievable person Victoria Arlen is. We also found out that she is a triplet — she has two brothers. We hope that her story inspires you to be a better person because if she can believe in herself after all she has been through, you should be able to get through the little things. We all think that Victoria Arlen is an amazing person because it’s hard to know that you might not be able to live a normal life and she persevered. We learned so much from her experiences.

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