16-year-old Victoria Arlen uses a wheelchair to get around. But before a neurological disorder left her partially paralyzed five years ago, sports were a big part of her life. Then she heard about a sled hockey team organized by Northeast Passage, an organization that specializes in therapeutic recreation and adaptive sports.
Victoria: I kind of did every sport in the book because that was just my thing, athletics is my passion. The first time I tried sled hockey it kind of ignited a spark in me that I had lost. I felt as if I could really be an athlete again. Its hockey, you’re just in a specialized sled fitted with skates at the bottom. Other than that it’s the same rules and same game which is pretty sweet. It’s kind of cool because everybody you meet through sled hockey has a story. So everyone is some of the coolest people, but they go out there and just go hard.
After I started sled hockey I talked with one of my old swim coaches and he got me back in the water. Even my sled hockey coach has helped me with that and now I’m competing on a fully-able bodied swim team. The people at Northeast Passage – you can tell them you want to do something and they’ll find every way to help you be able to do it. They don’t say no, like “oh, no you can’t because you’re disabled”. They basically say alright let’s figure out a way to do it.
I think the big picture of it is that you can do anything no matter what. No matter what your handicap is, what situation you’re in, it doesn’t matter. If you have a dream you can achieve it and they’ve helped me realize that.
I want to get into Nordic skiing, I want to do hand-cycling and I want to do triathlons. I was in a tough spot before I found them and they’ve really helped me just kind of blossom into being back to my old self again.