Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Victoria Arlen

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

As you might imagine, we are very often asked for charitable donations from many, many entities such as sports programs, local churches, events for charity and school fundraisers. Oh, how we would love to give to all of them! Much like other corporations, though, we just can't accommodate them all. It's so hard to have to say no to people who deserve and need contributions in one form or another. On the flip side, it feels awesome to be able to say yes and hear or read the reaction of an entity we give to. Seeing their appreciation is really, really satisfying. We quietly do our fair share of giving back to the community and will continue to do so in the future - quietly. It's not cool to broadcast charitable giving, you know. Unless you're Bill Gates.

But I feel the need to break the rule this one time. We first heard Victoria Arlen's story a few months back. In short, Victoria was your typical young teenager - dancing in the house, singing out loud, very active in athletics, going to school every day and being part of a great New Hampshire family. She is one of three triplets and comes from a hockey lineage - her dad and brothers all play the game and shop up in our Dover, NH hockey store. I wish the story continued as is, but unfortunately it doesn't. A few years back, Victoria contracted Lyme Disease, a relatively uncommon tick-borne disease. Most suffer the basic symptoms and go on living normally, but some aren't so lucky. Unfortunately, Victoria was one of the unlucky ones, as it took doctors over a year to diagnose her and she ended up suffering for years after that, unable to walk, talk, eat or speak. Victoria eventually ended up paralyzed and teetering back-and-forth between good and terrible health.

So many times we hear about how much we take life for granted. I'm as guilty as anyone of it. But if you read Victoria's story and watch some of the videos of her suffering, you quickly get brought back down to Earth. What she went through was simply horrific. I began to ask myself "what if it was me?" I've played hockey since I was four years old. What if I had to stop when I was 13 and fight for my life? Would I have what it takes to fight? So far, I haven't had to answer that question and I am glad for that. But Victoria did. And let me tell you, she fought. And won.

Victoria remains paralyzed today, but you would never even know it if you sat and talked with her. She's back to that cheerful, bubbly teenaged kid you see everywhere.  Her paralysis is not going to stop her from pursuing athletics. No way. Before Lyme Disease affected her, she was a championship level youth swimmer. When she overcame ill health, she got right back in the water. She also took up sled hockey - and this is where we come in. If you're unfamiliar with sled hockey, you should head over to YouTube and watch some, because it's INSANE! The players are inspirational, the game is amazing and the vitality of these people is infectious. Now Victoria is one of them! So we were very happy and gratified to have provided her with a sled that will enable her to compete competitively. We were also blessed to meet her family, who remain hopeful, funny and incredibly nice people, who after going through something that could make a lot of people bitter and mad at life, seem quite happy now. They are a wonderful and inspiring group to sit and speak with.

But let's let Victoria talk a little! We took our cameras up to the Dover, NH store recently and sat with her for a quick three minute video.....see it here:
 

I want to thank both Victoria and her family for coming into Dover to spend some time with us. It was an honor to meet them and we're so happy to have helped them out. To find out more about Lyme Disease and how you can help, go to the American Lyme Disease Foundation web site by clicking here. Thanks for reading and watching.



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