Victoria Arlen, an Exeter High School student who won a gold medal in the 2012 London Paralympics, was honored by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, Friday morning.
"She is a role model and an inspiration," said Shaheen, who wrote a congressional statement recognizing Arlen's achievements.
Arlen, 18, is a senior at Exeter High. She lost the use of her legs after being afflicted with the spinal cord disease transverse myelitis.
At the Paralympics, Arlen set a world record and won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle event. She also earned three silver medals in other events.
"She's one of the most detemined young women I've ever met," said Exeter High Principal Sean Kiley.
Watch Arlen's gold-medal winning performance in the YouTube video above.
Below is Shaheen's congressional statement:
I rise today to recognize and honor the success of Victoria Arlen of Exeter, NH. This summer, Victoria represented the United States in a number of swimming events at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Victoria Arlen is an 18-year-old young woman who seven years ago was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder that causes inflammation of a section of the spinal cord. Victoria’s resulting paralysis from the waist down has not damaged her determination or her competitive spirit, and her achievements this year have been truly remarkable.
Victoria was a very active child prior to her diagnosis, and was involved in dancing, swimming and playing field hockey, lacrosse and soccer. For more than two years, Victoria lived in a coma and only began swimming competitively again at the age of 16, and it came as no surprise to Victoria’s family when the honors student earned a place on the U.S. Paralympic Team. In London, she competed in the 100-meter, 50-meter, 400-meter and 4x100-meter relay freestyle events and the 100-meter breaststroke event. Victoria set a world record and won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle, in her final competition, and earned silver medals in three of her other races.
Victoria’s determination in the face of adversity and ability to accomplish her goals demonstrate her strength of spirit and her quality of character. Citizens of New Hampshire are incredibly proud of her achievements; she is a role model and an inspiration. I am confident that her success at the 2012 Paralympic Games is one great accomplishment in what is certain to be a lifetime of impressive feats.
Since 1960, the Paralympic Games have provided athletes who have certain physical disabilities the chance to compete in a broad range of sports and athletic events on the international level, providing them with an opportunity similar to that of their able-bodied counterparts. Victoria’s inspiring performance throughout the 2012 Paralympic Games should serve as a reminder of the hard work and dedication required to succeed.
I applaud and congratulate Victoria for her devotion and determination. I also commend her family, including her parents, Jacqueline and Larry, and her three brothers, Cameron, LJ and William, for their role in her success. I know that her victories give her family, her friends, the Exeter community and the State of New Hampshire great pride.
I rise today to recognize Victoria Arlen for her accomplishments and her victory in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and I commend her dedication, maturity and hard work. She is truly an inspiring young woman.