Celebrate Women - Celebrating Resilience and Rejuvenation
Keynote Speaker - Victoria Arlen
Paralympian gold medalist Victoria Arlen joined ESPN in December 2015 as a features reporter and now works as a host and reporter. She is most often seen doing “SportsCenter Right Now” updates that air during weekday morning and afternoon programs on ESPN.
Hired at the age of 21, she became one of ESPN’s youngest regular reporters ever.
She made her ESPN television debut as a features venue reporter at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Since then, in addition to reporting from the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, she has reported and hosted from the X Games and Invictus Games, done features and updates for SportsCenter and reported for espnW. She also has appeared on College GameDay and the SEC Network’s coverage of NCAA swimming and diving.
Arlen has a remarkable story of overcoming odds and adversity. At 11 years old, she was diagnosed with two rare conditions; Transverse Myelitis and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis. She soon lost the ability to speak, eat, walk and move; doctors believed she had little chance of survival, let alone recovery. Fighting for her life, Arlen persevered through four years of being in a vegetative state and shortly after, began the near-impossible journey to relearn everyday tasks and functions. But recover she did – when she joined ESPN, she was in a wheelchair – in the Spring of 2017, she celebrated the one-year anniversary of regaining her ability to walk.
During her recovery, she became an accomplished motivational speaker, actress, model and competitive swimmer. In early 2012, Arlen qualified to compete in the 2012 London Paralympic Games, winning a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle event in a new world record time along with three silver medals in the 50-meter, 400-meter and the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. In addition, Arlen has also broken several other World, American and Pan American Records.
In the fall of 2017, Arlen was a contestant on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, advancing to the final four before being eliminated.
Her autobiography, entitled “Locked In,” was published in 2018.
Born in Boston, Mass., Arlen was raised in Exeter, N.H., and attended Exeter High School. Despite missing five years of schooling, she returned to high school and graduated within three years.