Rolling Without Limits

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Meet Amy Van Dyken-Rouen: Olympian Facing New Life with Disability
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Meet Amy Van Dyken-Rouen: Olympian Facing New Life with Disability

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen made her mark on the world through her successful athletic career, even reaching the pinnacle of becoming an Olympic swimming champion. In June, Amy suffered a severe accident that left the once strong athlete fighting for her life and facing her new reality as a member of the disability community. Read about her remarkable road to recovery that will leave you inspired by the strength of the human spirit to overcome any challenge and adapt to any challenge life may throw your way.

A native of Arizona, Amy and her husband were enjoying dinner together one summer evening this June in Denver, CO when she severely severed her spine after an ATV rolled over her. The accident has left her paralyzed from the waist down. She has spent the last 2 months in Craig Hospital focused on her recovery and left the hospital last week from the seat of a wheelchair to go back to her home in Arizona.

Amy has been posting milestones in her recovery for her fans on social media, but even though she is now released from the hospital, she still has a lot of work ahead of her as she adjusts to her new life at home in her wheelchair. She admits that the journey thus far has not been easy.

In a recent interview with Matt Lauer for the Today show, she said, “this is not easy and I don’t want to portray the fact that because I have a smile on my face, it really is easy. It’s really not.”

Her husband has been her rock throughout her recovery. Amy is married to former NFL player Tom Rouen. She is a 6-time medalist in the Atlanta and Sydney summer Olympic games, winning gold in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 4×100-meter freestyle relay, and 4×100-meter medley relay.

One would imagine that adjusting from a super active, athletic-centric lifestyle to relearning how to do basic tasks from the seat of a wheelchair could be a real challenge. Amy is facing it with great courage and determination yet is keeping things in perspective and is not afraid to admit when things get rough.

Amy is a great example that life throws unexpected curveballs our way. It is our reaction to these challenges and the amount of work we put into them that will eventually get us through to the other side.

Have you heard about Amy’s story? What is your reaction to the message Amy’s story provides to others about the disability community? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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