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Day 2 | Transcript

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Welcome to our second day of
virtual National Conference.

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I hope you enjoyed yesterday's
presentation by Kenneth

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as much as I did, and
that you are feeling

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motivated to dive into
another successful year

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here at PRMI.

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I also hope you get a chance to
participate in our fundraising

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efforts for No Kid Hungry.

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Remember, every
$5.12 you contribute

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represents a weekend of
food for a child in need

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and one more unit of
service towards our goal

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of 28,000 units served in 2020.

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For more information
or to make a donation,

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simply click on
the Donate button

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on our Conference website.

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Today, we are privileged to
hear from an incredible speaker,

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Victoria Arlen. Victoria
is a powerful example

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of perseverance in the
face of difficulty.

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In spite of a debilitating
childhood illness that left her

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without the use of her legs

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for many years, Ms. Arlen
has redefined what is possible

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over and over again

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throughout her life.
As a child, she

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dreamed of competing
in the Olympics,

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but when she was 11
years old, Victoria

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was diagnosed with a
rare viral disease, which

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she battled for five
years, including four

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years in a vegetative state.

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This disease left her
without the use of her legs

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for nearly a decade.

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But Victoria did not
give up on her dreams

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and in 2010, she returned to
the pool for the first time

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since her illness.

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In the spring of
2012, she qualified

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for the London Paralympic
Games in four events.

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And there she won a gold
medal and three silver medals.

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Victoria now stays busy as an
on-air personality with ESPN.

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She reports

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for many programs,
including the X-Games,

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Invictus Games, the
ESPY Awards, espnW,

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Frozen Four, Special Olympic
World Games and SportsCenter.

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On top of all of
that, Victoria is

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an accomplished
motivational speaker

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who graciously shares her
experiences and wisdom

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with people all over the world.

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We are so thrilled to get the
chance to hear from her today.

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And here she is.

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Thank you, Chris.

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I'm super excited
to be here today

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to be part of your program.

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Honestly, I just absolutely love
the theme of Redefine Possible.

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It really resonates with me to
the deepest parts of who I am.

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I spent years trying to
live this exact theme.

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In fact, I still try
to do so every day,

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but there was a time
in my life when many,

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many, many things that
I had visions of doing

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seemed to be impossible.

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So I had to redefine
my own vision

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of what I believed I could do.

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How I did that is what I'll
be sharing with you today.

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I'm honored, truly honored, to
be a small part of this year's

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Conference.

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So thank you,

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thank you,

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thank you to everyone at
Primary Residential Mortgage

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for inviting me
to be here today.

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Another thing I'm
excited about today

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is that I get to be speaking
to a bunch of winners.

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I wish I could see you all
face-to-face right now, because I

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would love to be standing
on a stage in front of you,

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giving you a big
round of applause

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for what I understand has
turned out to be a really

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impressive year, despite lots
of challenges you have never

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faced before.

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So a very big congrats and
round of applause to all of you.

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That's an amazing accomplishment
to have found ways

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to drive your business
forward in 2020.

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You know, as we talk
about redefining possible,

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this pandemic has forced
me, I think, like all of us,

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to have to pivot and kind of
redefine how I work a bit.

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So as I said, typically, I
would be in a room with you all,

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sharing my story.

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But of course,
that can't happen

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these days,

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so I have spent the last
six or so months Zooming

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and Webex-ing and Google
Meeting and Teams Meeting,

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and I'm sure, like all of
you, during 2020 I Zoomed

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like I never Zoomed before.

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And at first, I admit
I wasn't a big fan

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of this new virtual world.

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I'm a hugger and a
people person and an

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eye-to-eye kind of person,
so I really miss that.

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But I'm also like, I
also like to think

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of myself as a silver
lining kind of person too,

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so I try to look on the
bright side of things.

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And what I did find
is one plus of 2020

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for me is that I've been
able to share my story far,

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far, far more broadly
than ever before.

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In the last few
months, I've spoken

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to groups across the
U.S., which I usually do,

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but also across in Canada,
South America, Europe

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and to a number
of places in Asia.

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Without this
pandemic, that never

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would have happened,
at least not

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in the back to back to back
to back area in which it has.

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And by speaking to
people around the world,

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one thing has become
abundantly clear

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to me, because all
of those people

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have expressed all of the
same things we are all feeling.

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The inconveniences of
the COVID world, face

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masks, social distancing,
lockdowns, business

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interruptions, home schooling
and all kinds of anxiety

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and stress that just seems to
creep into our lives like never

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before.

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These are universal, as is the
very tragic and heartbreaking

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loss of loved ones.

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I've come to see
firsthand by speaking

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to people in all of
these different places

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that we are all
in this together.

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And there is something
very comforting

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knowing that people in Germany,
London, Asia and in Canada

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are dealing with most of the
same issues as you and I. Now,

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that, I will tell you
one big difference,

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and I congratulate
you again on this.

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I've probably spoken for
20 or more companies in

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the past couple of months,

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And for 19 of those,
I've been called

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in to help inspire
them to get back up

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and to recover from the
adversity of 2020.

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And I think, honestly,
this is the first time

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I've been asked to celebrate
a group of people who

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have faced the same adversity,
not only gotten back up,

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but found a way to thrive, to
break some records, might I

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add, and to redefine
what's possible.

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I assure you from
the world tour I've

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been on this past year,
that is not typical.

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It is actually anything but
these days. Frankly, it's

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incredible.

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And it's a testament
to the hard work

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that I'm sure each
and every one of you

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had to put in,
in order to get here.

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So, again, congratulations to
all of you and everyone at PRMI.

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So without further ado, might I
say, let me share with you

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what it is that my
life has taught me

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thus far about redefining
what's possible.

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And to do that,
to really show you

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how I learned the difference
between possible

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and impossible

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and turning the
impossible into possible,

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I want to try and take you
back to my darkest hour.

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I'm going to begin by
asking you to indulge me

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a bit with a little
audience participation.

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I know sometimes when I do
this during in-person events,

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that "audience participation"
thing doesn't go over

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so well.

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But I guess that's
one of the benefits

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and blessings in disguise
of these virtual calls.

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I can't necessarily see you, and
nobody else can see you either,

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so you're in your safe zone.

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I'm going to ask you to
please close your eyes,

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and keep them closed
and don't open them

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until I tell you. In fact,
I'm going to even cover

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my camera for a minute

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so even if you open your
eyes, you won't see anything.

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Anyway, so please, I invite
you to play along with me.

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Come with me for
a minute for real,

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and try to feel what
I felt during the most

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terrifying part of my life.

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Imagine being trapped.

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What comes to mind for you?

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Imagine being trapped.

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What do you envision? What
does that look like for you?

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Are you stuck in an elevator?

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Or in some room
with a stuck door

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that you can't seem to budge?

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Or maybe

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you're in a basement with no
windows and no clear way out.

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But I'm not talking
about any of those.

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Imagine being trapped
within your own body.

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You're unable to move.

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You can't turn your head.

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You can't lift a finger.

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You can't even blink
an eye. Nothing.

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You're completely trapped
within your own body.

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But now, imagine that even though
you're trapped inside yourself,

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you can see.

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You can hear.

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In fact, you can hear
everything going on around you,

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but no one knows that you can.

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You are you on the
inside, but the connection

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to this vehicle
of your body, this

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means of reaching the
outside world, it's broken.

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It won't respond.

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You try to call out,

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"I'm here, I'm here,
I'm right here."

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You try to shout that at
the top of your lungs,

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but those lungs won't
respond, your lips won't move,

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and nothing comes out, and
no one knows you were there.

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You can hear the
doctors right there

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in front of you telling your
parents that you're never

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going to recover and that you'll
remain in this vegetative state

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forever and that they should put
you in a special care facility

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and try to move on
with their lives,

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try to find some sense
of normalcy again.

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"But I'm here, I'm
here, I'm right here,"

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you try to shout again and
again and again, with no result.

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Open your eyes. Kind of sounds
like a nightmare, right?

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Well, this nightmare
was my reality

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not too long ago. My
world turned upside down

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when two incredibly rare
neurological conditions

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struck my body like
a head-on collision,

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causing irreversible damage
to my brain and spinal cord

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and leaving my
family in turmoil,

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trying to pick up the
debris, desperately

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looking for any sign of hope.

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Transverse myelitis, and acute
disseminated encephalomyelitis.

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These words are difficult to
pronounce as an 11-year-old,

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let alone for any adult. For me
now at 26 or 11-year-old

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back then,

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but this is what happened to me.

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And hauntingly,
if only my doctors

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had been more familiar with
these words, everything that

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happened to me, four years
in a vegetative state,

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having to relearn how
to eat, talk, to move,

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10 years in a wheelchair,
everything, all of that

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could have been prevented
by a dose of steroids.

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But that didn't happen.

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Now, before we get
to those details,

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let me give you a
bit of the backstory,

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because before all
of this, I was simply

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a little girl with big dreams.

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I had dreams of being
a gold medalist,

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of being on television,
dreams of changing the world.

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Whatever it was, I had big
dreams and plenty of them.

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But then one day I didn't feel
well. I was 11 at the time,

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and I remember that my
right side ached and hurt

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so badly.

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And this eventually
led to doctors

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diagnosing me with appendicitis.

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So they took out my appendix, a
simple fix, but that wasn't it.

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But it seems that was the
catalyst that somehow set off

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the storm brewing
inside my body.

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And the wrath of that
storm would very quickly

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cause my entire
body to shut down.

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The best way I can
describe this is

245
00:11:45,310 --> 00:11:47,770
to ask you to think of that
circuit breaker in your house

246
00:11:47,770 --> 00:11:51,850
and all of those switches.
And with the storm

247
00:11:51,850 --> 00:11:53,860
that was raging on,
little by little,

248
00:11:53,860 --> 00:11:56,200
each one of those switches
was being tripped.

249
00:11:56,200 --> 00:12:00,170
And I lost more and more power
and more and more control.

250
00:12:00,170 --> 00:12:02,270
The first switch, my
legs began to give out.

251
00:12:02,270 --> 00:12:05,120
It started on my feet, and
I began to lose sensation

252
00:12:05,120 --> 00:12:07,130
and quickly it worked
its way up my legs

253
00:12:07,130 --> 00:12:10,670
when suddenly, for no reason,
my legs would just give out.

254
00:12:10,670 --> 00:12:12,260
The strength and
function in my legs

255
00:12:12,260 --> 00:12:14,850
was disappearing
at a rapid pace.

256
00:12:14,850 --> 00:12:18,440
And before long, just like
that, I was paralyzed.

257
00:12:18,440 --> 00:12:21,260
Within two weeks, I went from
standing on my own two feet

258
00:12:21,260 --> 00:12:23,700
to being stuck in a wheelchair.

259
00:12:23,700 --> 00:12:26,040
The second switch, that my
fine motor skills began

260
00:12:26,040 --> 00:12:30,180
to slow down and very quickly
my arms and hands would move,

261
00:12:30,180 --> 00:12:33,660
every motion became more
and more disconnected.

262
00:12:33,660 --> 00:12:38,250
Simple things like grabbing a
glass of water, holding a fork

263
00:12:38,250 --> 00:12:42,060
or even scratching my
nose became impossible.

264
00:12:42,060 --> 00:12:45,090
Third switch, then slowly,
my voice began to give out,

265
00:12:45,090 --> 00:12:46,890
every word became
less and less clear

266
00:12:46,890 --> 00:12:49,440
and my words began to
slur more and more.

267
00:12:49,440 --> 00:12:51,990
And yet, in my own
mind, I was speaking

268
00:12:51,990 --> 00:12:55,450
clearly and articulately, until
it was gone all together

269
00:12:55,450 --> 00:12:57,850
and I was completely
silenced by the storm

270
00:12:57,850 --> 00:13:00,137
and no longer able
to communicate.

271
00:13:00,137 --> 00:13:02,220
And not to mention the
pain throughout all of this

272
00:13:02,220 --> 00:13:05,430
was quite honestly
at times unbearable.

273
00:13:05,430 --> 00:13:08,520
Yet despite all of this, I
don't remember being scared.

274
00:13:08,520 --> 00:13:09,930
I was so young at
the time that I

275
00:13:09,930 --> 00:13:12,090
don't think I yet
had the maturity

276
00:13:12,090 --> 00:13:15,270
to absorb the severity of
what was happening to me.

277
00:13:15,270 --> 00:13:18,060
I never
considered that this

278
00:13:18,060 --> 00:13:21,090
could be a permanent condition
or that it might even

279
00:13:21,090 --> 00:13:22,590
be terminal.

280
00:13:22,590 --> 00:13:25,300
I recall just thinking I
was going to feel better

281
00:13:25,300 --> 00:13:28,230
the next day and that
tomorrow, tomorrow I

282
00:13:28,230 --> 00:13:30,630
would get to go back
to swim practice.

283
00:13:30,630 --> 00:13:34,090
Tomorrow, I could go to
dance class. Tomorrow,

284
00:13:34,090 --> 00:13:38,080
I could just go back to
school and be with my friends.

285
00:13:38,080 --> 00:13:41,750
Tomorrow, maybe
things will be better.

286
00:13:41,750 --> 00:13:45,290
But for my parents, they
were terrified and scrambling

287
00:13:45,290 --> 00:13:48,620
for answers and they were
watching their only daughter

288
00:13:48,620 --> 00:13:51,290
deteriorate in front of
them, growing worse and worse

289
00:13:51,290 --> 00:13:53,870
by the day. They were
racing against what appeared

290
00:13:53,870 --> 00:13:56,450
to be a very fast
moving condition

291
00:13:56,450 --> 00:13:59,330
and getting no meaningful
answers as to what

292
00:13:59,330 --> 00:14:02,280
was wrong with their child.

293
00:14:02,280 --> 00:14:05,220
If you can believe this,
more than one doctor

294
00:14:05,220 --> 00:14:06,190
told my parents

295
00:14:06,190 --> 00:14:10,050
I was doing this for attention
and that this was in my head.

296
00:14:10,050 --> 00:14:11,220
You see, I'm a triplet.

297
00:14:11,220 --> 00:14:13,690
I have an older brother
and two triplet brothers.

298
00:14:13,690 --> 00:14:17,080
So I guess unable to explain
what was happening to me,

299
00:14:17,080 --> 00:14:20,070
doctors went so far as
to suggest to my parents

300
00:14:20,070 --> 00:14:21,750
that it was all a
cry for attention

301
00:14:21,750 --> 00:14:24,670
and that it was psychosomatic.

302
00:14:24,670 --> 00:14:27,490
But it wasn't until the final
switch when all the lights went

303
00:14:27,490 --> 00:14:29,325
out that everything changed.

304
00:14:33,490 --> 00:14:36,670
Darkness, total darkness.

305
00:14:36,670 --> 00:14:39,400
By this point, it was very
obvious that I wasn't faking

306
00:14:39,400 --> 00:14:41,960
and that something was
seriously wrong with me.

307
00:14:41,960 --> 00:14:44,590
And we had gotten the
soul crushing diagnosis

308
00:14:44,590 --> 00:14:46,360
of these two rare conditions.

309
00:14:46,360 --> 00:14:50,180
But the prognosis for the future
was way worse. Over and over,

310
00:14:50,180 --> 00:14:51,790
doctors told my
parents they needed

311
00:14:51,790 --> 00:14:53,770
to accept the very
real possibility

312
00:14:53,770 --> 00:14:55,040
that I would not survive.

313
00:14:55,040 --> 00:14:57,170
And even if I did, the Victoria

314
00:14:57,170 --> 00:14:59,740
they once knew was
never coming back.

315
00:14:59,740 --> 00:15:02,350
And while my family was willing
to accept the diagnosis,

316
00:15:02,350 --> 00:15:04,750
they refused to
throw up their hands

317
00:15:04,750 --> 00:15:08,110
and accept that this was all my
future had in store, that this

318
00:15:08,110 --> 00:15:10,070
was it.

319
00:15:10,070 --> 00:15:12,470
They accepted the
diagnosis, but not

320
00:15:12,470 --> 00:15:14,675
the prognosis. The prognosis

321
00:15:14,675 --> 00:15:16,550
they had in mind was
very different than what

322
00:15:16,550 --> 00:15:18,410
they were being told.

323
00:15:18,410 --> 00:15:21,770
Somehow, they believed
I was not a lost cause.

324
00:15:21,770 --> 00:15:23,720
And I now believe that
it was their refusal

325
00:15:23,720 --> 00:15:27,840
to accept that prognosis
that brought me back to life.

326
00:15:27,840 --> 00:15:31,260
So, this was my life
for quite some time.

327
00:15:31,260 --> 00:15:33,930
I lay in a vegetative
state in my own home,

328
00:15:33,930 --> 00:15:36,270
completely unresponsive to
anything going on around me

329
00:15:36,270 --> 00:15:40,340
and completely unresponsive
to anyone in my life.

330
00:15:40,340 --> 00:15:43,500
Thankfully, I don't
remember any of this time.

331
00:15:43,500 --> 00:15:48,190
I call it my darkness period.
But my family remembers it

332
00:15:48,190 --> 00:15:51,250
and they remember it well, and
I have to believe for them,

333
00:15:51,250 --> 00:15:53,790
it must have been nearly
unbearable to hold out hope

334
00:15:53,790 --> 00:15:56,700
for so long while getting
nothing, absolutely

335
00:15:56,700 --> 00:15:59,060
nothing back in return.

336
00:15:59,060 --> 00:16:01,180
Talk about keeping the faith.

337
00:16:01,180 --> 00:16:04,750
But they never wavered, that
faith never wavered, and then

338
00:16:04,750 --> 00:16:07,400
one day, the switch that
controls my brain went back on

339
00:16:07,400 --> 00:16:12,520
and I woke up. Except,
it was the only switch.

340
00:16:12,520 --> 00:16:14,690
None of the other switches
clicked back into place.

341
00:16:14,690 --> 00:16:16,960
So I was there in my
body, but I couldn't

342
00:16:16,960 --> 00:16:18,430
connect to the outside world.

343
00:16:18,430 --> 00:16:19,610
Nothing else worked,

344
00:16:19,610 --> 00:16:24,010
and there was no way for me to
let anyone know I was in there.

345
00:16:24,010 --> 00:16:27,160
And that was the first time
I remember being scared.

346
00:16:27,160 --> 00:16:32,280
That is when I remember being
terrified that this was it.

347
00:16:32,280 --> 00:16:35,190
When I started today, that's
what I asked you to imagine.

348
00:16:35,190 --> 00:16:39,030
That feeling of being trapped
and completely disconnected.

349
00:16:39,030 --> 00:16:42,250
Now, I could see and hear things,
but no one knew that I could.

350
00:16:42,250 --> 00:16:44,400
In fact, now I
could see and hear

351
00:16:44,400 --> 00:16:47,850
everything, even the things
I didn't want to hear.

352
00:16:47,850 --> 00:16:51,180
I heard doctors having actual
conversations with my parents

353
00:16:51,180 --> 00:16:53,610
that I was never going
to come out of this.

354
00:16:53,610 --> 00:16:55,920
And despite desperately
trying to scream out to them,

355
00:16:55,920 --> 00:16:58,620
there was no way to connect.

356
00:16:58,620 --> 00:17:00,480
But then the
realization set in to me

357
00:17:00,480 --> 00:17:02,730
that, what if this is it for me?

358
00:17:02,730 --> 00:17:06,480
What if I am to forever be the
way I am right now, hearing

359
00:17:06,480 --> 00:17:07,569
the world around me,

360
00:17:07,569 --> 00:17:12,160
but locked away from it,
locked inside myself?

361
00:17:12,160 --> 00:17:13,930
And that was
terrifying, and so I

362
00:17:13,930 --> 00:17:17,380
did what I think any kid would
do in that situation. In fact,

363
00:17:17,380 --> 00:17:22,430
I did what I think anyone of any
age would do in that situation.

364
00:17:22,430 --> 00:17:24,619
I tried not to think
about it. I tried

365
00:17:24,619 --> 00:17:28,700
to push those thoughts out of
my head as fast as I could,

366
00:17:28,700 --> 00:17:30,470
and as I awoke from
this darkness,

367
00:17:30,470 --> 00:17:34,370
I was really left with only my
own thoughts and time to think,

368
00:17:34,370 --> 00:17:35,820
plenty of time to think.

369
00:17:35,820 --> 00:17:39,140
And I remember during this time
with nothing else on my hands

370
00:17:39,140 --> 00:17:41,540
other than time, to
avoid going down

371
00:17:41,540 --> 00:17:45,180
this path of negative thinking,
which I knew got really scary

372
00:17:45,180 --> 00:17:48,590
really quickly, I began
to think about everything

373
00:17:48,590 --> 00:17:50,630
I was grateful for.

374
00:17:50,630 --> 00:17:53,420
Now, when I've mentioned that
thought to people before, I've

375
00:17:53,420 --> 00:17:56,150
gotten some looks like
what I can imagine

376
00:17:56,150 --> 00:17:58,653
is going on on the other
side of my screen.

377
00:17:58,653 --> 00:18:00,320
You're probably
thinking along the lines

378
00:18:00,320 --> 00:18:02,780
of, "What did you possibly
have to be grateful for?

379
00:18:02,780 --> 00:18:05,090
Your life had completely fallen
apart, you're lying there,

380
00:18:05,090 --> 00:18:06,360
trapped inside your own body.

381
00:18:06,360 --> 00:18:08,180
You can't even
scratch your nose.

382
00:18:08,180 --> 00:18:10,190
What do you have
to be grateful for?"

383
00:18:10,190 --> 00:18:12,170
And yet, with all of this
free time on my hands,

384
00:18:12,170 --> 00:18:14,690
I was able to find things
to be grateful for,

385
00:18:14,690 --> 00:18:16,790
starting with the simple
fact that my mind was now

386
00:18:16,790 --> 00:18:19,730
working enough that I could
have these sorts of thoughts

387
00:18:19,730 --> 00:18:21,770
of self evaluation.

388
00:18:21,770 --> 00:18:24,670
And the more I thought about
it, the more that list grew.

389
00:18:24,670 --> 00:18:25,410
I wasn't dead, right?

390
00:18:25,410 --> 00:18:27,550
That's a big win.

391
00:18:27,550 --> 00:18:30,050
Now, you also might think that
if I'm starting with the fact

392
00:18:30,050 --> 00:18:32,090
that I'm not dead,
that I'm really

393
00:18:32,090 --> 00:18:34,620
scraping the bottom of the
barrel to find some good news.

394
00:18:34,620 --> 00:18:36,860
And you know what?

395
00:18:36,860 --> 00:18:39,060
Maybe you're right, but
it was a good start,

396
00:18:39,060 --> 00:18:42,320
and it was a big one
for the plus column.

397
00:18:42,320 --> 00:18:47,090
And then as I continued on with
my focus shifting to gratitude,

398
00:18:47,090 --> 00:18:50,240
the most amazing thing
happened. The most amazing chain

399
00:18:50,240 --> 00:18:53,840
of events began that eventually
brought me back to life.

400
00:18:53,840 --> 00:18:56,840
When I began to feel
this sense of gratitude,

401
00:18:56,840 --> 00:19:00,590
it changed my perspective. That
fear I felt began to weaken

402
00:19:00,590 --> 00:19:03,940
and things weren't quite so
dark as they had once been.

403
00:19:03,940 --> 00:19:06,070
Instead of being
focused on the negative,

404
00:19:06,070 --> 00:19:09,020
I began to see the
positive a bit more.

405
00:19:09,020 --> 00:19:11,050
And then with that
different perspective,

406
00:19:11,050 --> 00:19:14,863
it ignited a very
powerful thing, hope.

407
00:19:14,863 --> 00:19:16,280
It gave some
strength to this idea

408
00:19:16,280 --> 00:19:20,270
that maybe, just maybe,
things could get better.

409
00:19:20,270 --> 00:19:23,180
And I believe me focusing
on that gratitude, which

410
00:19:23,180 --> 00:19:25,910
changed my perspective,
which created some hope,

411
00:19:25,910 --> 00:19:29,630
eventually led to a tiny
little breakthrough.

412
00:19:29,630 --> 00:19:33,610
Tiny in movement, but
enormous in magnitude.

413
00:19:33,610 --> 00:19:37,000
I regained the ability to
blink, and that little thing

414
00:19:37,000 --> 00:19:39,850
that we take for granted,
that everyone in this room

415
00:19:39,850 --> 00:19:43,240
has done countless times
since I started speaking,

416
00:19:43,240 --> 00:19:45,610
it became my lifeline.

417
00:19:45,610 --> 00:19:49,120
Suddenly, I had a
way to communicate.

418
00:19:49,120 --> 00:19:51,880
Two blinks for yes,
one blink for no.

419
00:19:51,880 --> 00:19:56,980
And I'll never forget the moment
that I reconnected with my mom.

420
00:19:56,980 --> 00:19:59,510
I've always been told I
have these big brown eyes.

421
00:19:59,510 --> 00:20:03,510
So I was just waiting for my
mom to turn and look at me.

422
00:20:03,510 --> 00:20:05,920
It felt honestly like forever.

423
00:20:05,920 --> 00:20:08,850
I'm sure it wasn't, but
she turned and looked

424
00:20:08,850 --> 00:20:11,190
and stopped dead in
her tracks. I was

425
00:20:11,190 --> 00:20:13,740
staring at her intensely.

426
00:20:13,740 --> 00:20:17,710
And you see up to this point, I
didn't have control of my eyes.

427
00:20:17,710 --> 00:20:21,060
So typically my eyes
were unfocused and fixed

428
00:20:21,060 --> 00:20:25,230
and I definitely couldn't follow
anyone walking across the room.

429
00:20:25,230 --> 00:20:28,290
She looked at me and could
tell something was different.

430
00:20:28,290 --> 00:20:30,330
She came towards me,
our eyes now locked

431
00:20:30,330 --> 00:20:35,550
in on each other, her hand over
her mouth gasping, she said,

432
00:20:35,550 --> 00:20:39,520
"Victoria, if you can hear
me, can you blink twice?"

433
00:20:39,520 --> 00:20:42,840
And so I went like this.
Basically trying to say

434
00:20:42,840 --> 00:20:45,240
through blinking, "I'm here,
I'm here, I'm right here."

435
00:20:45,240 --> 00:20:47,430
And in that moment, she
burst into tears of joy

436
00:20:47,430 --> 00:20:50,190
and the weight of the world,
was lifted from her back

437
00:20:50,190 --> 00:20:52,320
with such a simple gesture.

438
00:20:52,320 --> 00:20:54,840
And it was undoubtedly the
single most powerful moment

439
00:20:54,840 --> 00:20:57,150
I've ever shared with anyone.

440
00:20:57,150 --> 00:21:00,630
She grabbed her phone, called
my dad, and excitedly said,

441
00:21:00,630 --> 00:21:01,360
"She's back,

442
00:21:01,360 --> 00:21:02,610
Larry, Victoria is back.

443
00:21:02,610 --> 00:21:04,170
She's looking right at me.

444
00:21:04,170 --> 00:21:07,240
She's responding and
we are communicating."

445
00:21:07,240 --> 00:21:10,260
Now I was able to
communicate, and slowly

446
00:21:10,260 --> 00:21:14,830
but surely, I began to recover.
Painfully slowly,

447
00:21:14,830 --> 00:21:17,010
excruciatingly slowly.

448
00:21:17,010 --> 00:21:19,590
Also, that word
is a tough word,

449
00:21:19,590 --> 00:21:24,330
but you get the idea. It was
a very slow, slow, slow, slow

450
00:21:24,330 --> 00:21:25,590
recovery period.

451
00:21:25,590 --> 00:21:29,022
But now my family knew
that I was truly in there.

452
00:21:29,022 --> 00:21:30,730
And I knew that they
knew I was in there.

453
00:21:30,730 --> 00:21:32,970
So that was a huge step forward.

454
00:21:32,970 --> 00:21:34,500
But it was still
a long road back

455
00:21:34,500 --> 00:21:36,460
to any remote sense of normalcy.

456
00:21:36,460 --> 00:21:41,810
And my patience for walking
that road was really tested.

457
00:21:41,810 --> 00:21:43,760
It was a good two
months where all I had

458
00:21:43,760 --> 00:21:45,742
was this renewed use of my eyes.

459
00:21:45,742 --> 00:21:47,450
And while that in and
of itself was huge,

460
00:21:47,450 --> 00:21:49,700
there was definitely times
that I would start down

461
00:21:49,700 --> 00:21:52,550
the road to that dark
place of thinking,

462
00:21:52,550 --> 00:21:54,620
"What if that's all I get back?

463
00:21:54,620 --> 00:21:59,060
What if this is how I am
to communicate forever?"

464
00:21:59,060 --> 00:22:02,940
At times, it was honestly
hard to stay optimistic.

465
00:22:02,940 --> 00:22:04,890
There's a great,
great quote I love

466
00:22:04,890 --> 00:22:06,870
from the famous French
writer Victor Hugo,

467
00:22:06,870 --> 00:22:08,370
and if you don't
recognize his name,

468
00:22:08,370 --> 00:22:11,100
I'm sure you'll recognize
some of his famous works

469
00:22:11,100 --> 00:22:14,380
like Les Mis and the
Hunchback of Notre Dame.

470
00:22:14,380 --> 00:22:18,100
He says, quote, "Even the
darkest night will end

471
00:22:18,100 --> 00:22:21,340
and the sun will
rise," end quote. I

472
00:22:21,340 --> 00:22:25,280
kept trying to believe that my
night, my nightmare would end

473
00:22:25,280 --> 00:22:27,640
and that the sun would
rise and continue to rise.

474
00:22:27,640 --> 00:22:30,320
And so I used just about
every ounce of strength

475
00:22:30,320 --> 00:22:32,170
I had to keep my mind
in the right place,

476
00:22:32,170 --> 00:22:36,500
to continue to be optimistic,
to continue to be grateful.

477
00:22:36,500 --> 00:22:38,770
Within a few months, I
began to get some movement

478
00:22:38,770 --> 00:22:42,310
in my upper body back,
some movement in my arms.

479
00:22:42,310 --> 00:22:44,680
And by this point, I had
been out of commission

480
00:22:44,680 --> 00:22:46,280
for about four years.

481
00:22:46,280 --> 00:22:49,580
So my muscles had
suffered severe atrophy

482
00:22:49,580 --> 00:22:52,690
and I was kind of a shell
of who I used to be.

483
00:22:52,690 --> 00:22:53,870
But my mind was there,

484
00:22:53,870 --> 00:22:55,330
and so was my heart.

485
00:22:55,330 --> 00:22:57,730
And at first my motions,
as you might expect,

486
00:22:57,730 --> 00:22:59,930
were really weak
and uncoordinated.

487
00:22:59,930 --> 00:23:02,470
And as my muscles started
coming back to life,

488
00:23:02,470 --> 00:23:05,920
the best way I could communicate
was through some very basic

489
00:23:05,920 --> 00:23:06,680
sign language

490
00:23:06,680 --> 00:23:10,660
I learned. And through something
called a communication board,

491
00:23:10,660 --> 00:23:13,450
where I was able to point
to different pictures,

492
00:23:13,450 --> 00:23:17,320
to express my thoughts and what
I needed and what I wanted.

493
00:23:17,320 --> 00:23:18,760
And I didn't
realize at the time,

494
00:23:18,760 --> 00:23:23,895
but I had no idea how complex of
a muscle movement speaking is.

495
00:23:23,895 --> 00:23:25,270
I guess if you
think about it, it

496
00:23:25,270 --> 00:23:27,460
takes little kids years
to go from no speech

497
00:23:27,460 --> 00:23:29,890
at all to making sounds
and baby noises that

498
00:23:29,890 --> 00:23:33,010
grow into words, phrases and
eventually well thought out

499
00:23:33,010 --> 00:23:34,510
sentences.

500
00:23:34,510 --> 00:23:37,510
And for me, it was like going
through that whole process

501
00:23:37,510 --> 00:23:39,340
for a second time.

502
00:23:39,340 --> 00:23:41,170
My brain knew what
I wanted to say,

503
00:23:41,170 --> 00:23:43,210
but my mouth just
couldn't do it at first.

504
00:23:43,210 --> 00:23:46,990
And I had so much to say, four
years worth of things to say,

505
00:23:46,990 --> 00:23:49,930
but I just couldn't
get my mouth to do it.

506
00:23:49,930 --> 00:23:54,280
So even though I was no longer
locked in like I'd been,

507
00:23:54,280 --> 00:23:56,740
I'd be lying to say there
weren't plenty of times

508
00:23:56,740 --> 00:23:58,930
that I still felt very trapped.

509
00:23:58,930 --> 00:24:01,390
And it was months later
that these jerky arm movements

510
00:24:01,390 --> 00:24:06,060
grew more and more refined and
my speech slowly came back.

511
00:24:06,060 --> 00:24:09,570
And you can be sure that
with each new tiny bit

512
00:24:09,570 --> 00:24:13,350
of regained ability, I grew
more and more grateful.

513
00:24:13,350 --> 00:24:17,700
This cycle of being grateful for
each tiny new step of progress

514
00:24:17,700 --> 00:24:20,040
continued to change
my perspective.

515
00:24:20,040 --> 00:24:22,470
It kept me focused on the
positive, which created hope

516
00:24:22,470 --> 00:24:26,130
that things would continue to
get better, which, when I mixed

517
00:24:26,130 --> 00:24:29,490
in a lot of hard
work, eventually led

518
00:24:29,490 --> 00:24:31,650
to more and more progress.

519
00:24:31,650 --> 00:24:35,580
It was my breakthrough
formula, and it was my roadmap

520
00:24:35,580 --> 00:24:37,200
back to life.

521
00:24:37,200 --> 00:24:40,830
This whole cycle of gratitude,
perspective, change, hope

522
00:24:40,830 --> 00:24:44,370
and effort led me to getting
out of that hospital bed

523
00:24:44,370 --> 00:24:47,260
and into a wheelchair, where,
for the first time in years,

524
00:24:47,260 --> 00:24:49,600
I was able to move on my own.

525
00:24:49,600 --> 00:24:53,530
And then one day, my brothers,
shout out to the brothers,

526
00:24:53,530 --> 00:24:55,270
without my parents'
permission, or mine,

527
00:24:55,270 --> 00:24:58,300
I should add, decided it was
time for me to swim again,

528
00:24:58,300 --> 00:25:01,300
just like I'd loved to do
before I'd gotten sick.

529
00:25:01,300 --> 00:25:03,970
So, as the story goes, they
strapped on a life jacket

530
00:25:03,970 --> 00:25:06,220
and threw me in the
pool, literally.

531
00:25:06,220 --> 00:25:09,910
And I'd like to say I went
in kicking and screaming,

532
00:25:09,910 --> 00:25:11,360
but my legs didn't work,

533
00:25:11,360 --> 00:25:12,620
and I couldn't kick at the time,

534
00:25:12,620 --> 00:25:15,190
but you can be sure I
was screaming at them

535
00:25:15,190 --> 00:25:16,170
and making up for it

536
00:25:16,170 --> 00:25:18,680
in the screaming department.
Because I was terrified.

537
00:25:18,680 --> 00:25:19,580
I truly was,

538
00:25:19,580 --> 00:25:21,700
but they never let go of me.

539
00:25:21,700 --> 00:25:23,810
They got me over that
initial fear of drowning

540
00:25:23,810 --> 00:25:25,840
and very quickly, my
love being in the water

541
00:25:25,840 --> 00:25:28,310
was rekindled.
Because in the water,

542
00:25:28,310 --> 00:25:31,040
I didn't need my legs, and
it was a sense of freedom

543
00:25:31,040 --> 00:25:33,430
I had not felt in years.

544
00:25:33,430 --> 00:25:36,400
So that baptism by my
brothers, if you will, led me

545
00:25:36,400 --> 00:25:40,570
to getting back into the
pool and swimming on my own.

546
00:25:40,570 --> 00:25:42,970
It fired up the
competitor in me

547
00:25:42,970 --> 00:25:44,470
and even without
the use of my legs,

548
00:25:44,470 --> 00:25:47,110
I could still get in
the water and compete

549
00:25:47,110 --> 00:25:49,210
against other people.

550
00:25:49,210 --> 00:25:51,350
It was right about this time

551
00:25:51,350 --> 00:25:52,490
that summer was ending,

552
00:25:52,490 --> 00:25:54,880
and it was time to
go back to school.

553
00:25:54,880 --> 00:25:57,130
As I mentioned, I'm a
triplet, and my brothers

554
00:25:57,130 --> 00:26:00,170
were heading back to
sophomore year of high school.

555
00:26:00,170 --> 00:26:01,160
So I knew what year

556
00:26:01,160 --> 00:26:03,490
I should be heading back to,

557
00:26:03,490 --> 00:26:07,120
but the last time I was in
school, I was in fifth grade.

558
00:26:07,120 --> 00:26:09,580
And I'm not going to
sugarcoat this, folks.

559
00:26:09,580 --> 00:26:12,010
High school was rough for me.

560
00:26:12,010 --> 00:26:15,610
I was the coma kid and
the girl in the wheelchair

561
00:26:15,610 --> 00:26:18,280
and about whom lots
of rumors and gossip

562
00:26:18,280 --> 00:26:22,840
flew, and lack of knowledge and
understanding created a recipe

563
00:26:22,840 --> 00:26:23,690
for disaster.

564
00:26:23,690 --> 00:26:26,420
And no one really knew
what I had truly been through,

565
00:26:26,420 --> 00:26:29,140
and despite all of my
brothers relentlessly

566
00:26:29,140 --> 00:26:31,960
sticking up for
me, let's face it,

567
00:26:31,960 --> 00:26:33,790
high school kids
aren't typically noted

568
00:26:33,790 --> 00:26:35,000
for their compassion,

569
00:26:35,000 --> 00:26:37,210
and frankly, the anti
bullying movement

570
00:26:37,210 --> 00:26:40,060
hadn't really
gotten started yet.

571
00:26:40,060 --> 00:26:43,550
So, high school was
a rough ride for me

572
00:26:43,550 --> 00:26:45,940
and maybe it was
because of that, that I

573
00:26:45,940 --> 00:26:48,220
wanted to get out of
there as soon as possible.

574
00:26:48,220 --> 00:26:50,500
So I told my parents
and school counselors

575
00:26:50,500 --> 00:26:52,420
that I wanted to
double my course load

576
00:26:52,420 --> 00:26:54,160
and do whatever it takes.

577
00:26:54,160 --> 00:26:56,350
But I wanted to graduate
on time and roll

578
00:26:56,350 --> 00:26:58,270
across that stage
on graduation day

579
00:26:58,270 --> 00:27:00,250
and get my degree
with my brothers.

580
00:27:00,250 --> 00:27:01,640
I didn't want to be left behind,

581
00:27:01,640 --> 00:27:06,430
and so I wanted to
make up five years

582
00:27:06,430 --> 00:27:07,790
of schooling in three years.

583
00:27:07,790 --> 00:27:09,490
And there are a
handful of things

584
00:27:09,490 --> 00:27:11,800
I've accomplished thus far
in my life of which I'm

585
00:27:11,800 --> 00:27:13,090
pretty proud of.

586
00:27:13,090 --> 00:27:16,150
But seeing that dream come true
holds a really special place

587
00:27:16,150 --> 00:27:18,090
in my heart.

588
00:27:18,090 --> 00:27:22,530
It was in the middle of all of
this when I wasn't necessarily

589
00:27:22,530 --> 00:27:24,840
fitting in at high school
and didn't have many friends,

590
00:27:24,840 --> 00:27:28,410
that I began to get serious
about swimming. As if I didn't

591
00:27:28,410 --> 00:27:31,170
have enough to do
just with my classes

592
00:27:31,170 --> 00:27:33,420
and trying to make up five
years in three years,

593
00:27:33,420 --> 00:27:36,360
but my parents thought having a
physical outlet was good for me

594
00:27:36,360 --> 00:27:38,100
and swimming made me happy.

595
00:27:38,100 --> 00:27:41,520
So I began to take
it pretty seriously.

596
00:27:41,520 --> 00:27:44,760
I bounced around to a few coaches,
all of whom were nice people,

597
00:27:44,760 --> 00:27:47,010
but they really didn't know
how to train a swimmer who

598
00:27:47,010 --> 00:27:48,810
couldn't use her legs.

599
00:27:48,810 --> 00:27:53,250
And I get it, it's not an
everyday kind of thing.

600
00:27:53,250 --> 00:27:56,250
And it was during this time
that the Paralympics first

601
00:27:56,250 --> 00:27:57,310
came on my radar

602
00:27:57,310 --> 00:28:01,920
and I began to think in the back of
my head that maybe, just maybe,

603
00:28:01,920 --> 00:28:03,360
that could be me.

604
00:28:03,360 --> 00:28:05,010
I could go there.

605
00:28:05,010 --> 00:28:06,700
I wasn't thinking
I could win.

606
00:28:06,700 --> 00:28:07,840
Not at all, actually,

607
00:28:07,840 --> 00:28:10,770
I just thought it would
be cool to be there.

608
00:28:10,770 --> 00:28:13,480
But I also could
feel the coaches

609
00:28:13,480 --> 00:28:15,300
I had thus far
probably weren't going

610
00:28:15,300 --> 00:28:17,430
to be able to help me get there.

611
00:28:17,430 --> 00:28:21,180
It was then that I met a coach
named John Ogden who had seen

612
00:28:21,180 --> 00:28:22,930
me swim, and we got to talking,

613
00:28:22,930 --> 00:28:24,010
and I told him

614
00:28:24,010 --> 00:28:26,760
I had this dream bubbling up
that maybe I could represent

615
00:28:26,760 --> 00:28:29,370
Team USA at the Paralympics.

616
00:28:29,370 --> 00:28:33,360
I knew he was the right
coach for me when he said,

617
00:28:33,360 --> 00:28:36,300
"That's nice, but I don't
coach people who just

618
00:28:36,300 --> 00:28:38,500
want to be there. I coach winners,

619
00:28:38,500 --> 00:28:40,820
and I think you can win gold.

620
00:28:40,820 --> 00:28:43,800
And if that is what you want

621
00:28:43,800 --> 00:28:47,470
and that's what we agree
on, then I'll train you."

622
00:28:47,470 --> 00:28:50,350
And as I look back, I think
there are two big reasons

623
00:28:50,350 --> 00:28:52,450
I was successful under John.

624
00:28:52,450 --> 00:28:55,420
One was that I respected him.
I believed in his leadership,

625
00:28:55,420 --> 00:28:57,680
and I wanted to prove him right.

626
00:28:57,680 --> 00:29:00,820
And two, because he treated
me like every other swimmer

627
00:29:00,820 --> 00:29:02,940
on the team.

628
00:29:02,940 --> 00:29:05,520
I didn't get any
special treatment

629
00:29:05,520 --> 00:29:09,630
because I showed up to
practice in a wheelchair.

630
00:29:09,630 --> 00:29:13,260
This no-nonsense environment
was just what I needed, and soon

631
00:29:13,260 --> 00:29:17,250
John had me breaking literally
world records within a month.

632
00:29:17,250 --> 00:29:19,560
And within that very same
year, we not only made it

633
00:29:19,560 --> 00:29:20,970
to the Paralympics, but there

634
00:29:20,970 --> 00:29:23,730
I set multiple world records
and won a gold medal

635
00:29:23,730 --> 00:29:26,400
and three silver medals.

636
00:29:26,400 --> 00:29:29,820
All it takes is one
person to believe in you,

637
00:29:29,820 --> 00:29:33,600
one person to push you past what
you believe you're capable of.

638
00:29:33,600 --> 00:29:35,820
And as you can imagine
now, I had even more

639
00:29:35,820 --> 00:29:37,440
to be grateful for.

640
00:29:37,440 --> 00:29:38,905
And I found that
the more I focused

641
00:29:38,905 --> 00:29:40,530
on the things I had
to be grateful for,

642
00:29:40,530 --> 00:29:44,160
instead of dwelling on
the things I couldn't do,

643
00:29:44,160 --> 00:29:46,770
the more it changed my
perspective, the more it

644
00:29:46,770 --> 00:29:48,750
continued to create
hope that things

645
00:29:48,750 --> 00:29:51,660
would continue to get better.

646
00:29:51,660 --> 00:29:54,180
It was not long
after the Paralympics

647
00:29:54,180 --> 00:29:57,240
that I was invited to
ESPN to share my story,

648
00:29:57,240 --> 00:29:58,890
and while I was
there, they took me

649
00:29:58,890 --> 00:30:01,380
on a tour of their headquarters.

650
00:30:01,380 --> 00:30:04,890
This is at the mothership of
ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut.

651
00:30:04,890 --> 00:30:07,000
And I'd always been
a big sports fan,

652
00:30:07,000 --> 00:30:10,080
so touring their
headquarters was super cool.

653
00:30:10,080 --> 00:30:12,640
And I got to see how
SportsCenter comes to life

654
00:30:12,640 --> 00:30:16,050
and a little behind the scenes
view. The cameras, the control room,

655
00:30:16,050 --> 00:30:16,780
the lights,

656
00:30:16,780 --> 00:30:18,790
the host. It was
all really cool

657
00:30:18,790 --> 00:30:19,850
and I fascinated.

658
00:30:19,850 --> 00:30:20,590
I loved it.

659
00:30:20,590 --> 00:30:22,540
It was my light bulb moment.

660
00:30:22,540 --> 00:30:25,060
It was during that trip that I
met a couple of people there

661
00:30:25,060 --> 00:30:29,160
and they invited me to come
back and job shadow. Basically.

662
00:30:29,160 --> 00:30:31,530
just follow them around
behind the scenes

663
00:30:31,530 --> 00:30:34,230
and check it all out,
learn the business.

664
00:30:34,230 --> 00:30:37,030
And it was really an
incredible kind of invitation,

665
00:30:37,030 --> 00:30:37,740
so I did.

666
00:30:37,740 --> 00:30:39,190
I was like, yes, yes, yes.

667
00:30:39,190 --> 00:30:40,270
Whatever you want.

668
00:30:40,270 --> 00:30:42,330
If you want me to
hook up a coffee

669
00:30:42,330 --> 00:30:43,890
cart to the back
of my wheelchair

670
00:30:43,890 --> 00:30:47,020
and pull that around the
office for you, no problem.

671
00:30:47,020 --> 00:30:47,620
I can do it.

672
00:30:47,620 --> 00:30:48,220
I'll do it.

673
00:30:48,220 --> 00:30:50,220
I just want to learn.

674
00:30:50,220 --> 00:30:52,000
And that's how I got
in the door there.

675
00:30:52,000 --> 00:30:55,110
And it wasn't too long
thereafter that ESPN

676
00:30:55,110 --> 00:30:58,710
got the rights to broadcast
the special big World

677
00:30:58,710 --> 00:30:59,890
Games in Los Angeles,

678
00:30:59,890 --> 00:31:01,980
and they were looking for
a young female reporter

679
00:31:01,980 --> 00:31:04,260
to be a part of the broadcast.

680
00:31:04,260 --> 00:31:07,650
And that is how I
got on board at ESPN.

681
00:31:07,650 --> 00:31:08,760
Just like that,

682
00:31:08,760 --> 00:31:12,640
I became one of the youngest on
air hosts they had ever hired.

683
00:31:12,640 --> 00:31:16,510
And I remember, fun fact, my
very first on camera interview

684
00:31:16,510 --> 00:31:20,780
was with the legendary
Michael Phelps. No pressure.

685
00:31:20,780 --> 00:31:24,350
(Whispers) A lot of pressure!
By this point, my life had turned

686
00:31:24,350 --> 00:31:27,020
around and I was incredibly blessed
to have my mind and most

687
00:31:27,020 --> 00:31:29,660
of my body back, and I had
this great opportunity going

688
00:31:29,660 --> 00:31:32,700
at ESPN, but I still
didn't have my legs back.

689
00:31:32,700 --> 00:31:36,140
And I always held out hope
that maybe someday, just maybe

690
00:31:36,140 --> 00:31:40,130
someday, I would get
them back, that someday I

691
00:31:40,130 --> 00:31:42,410
could stand again on my own.

692
00:31:42,410 --> 00:31:45,880
I felt like I just
needed one more blink.

693
00:31:45,880 --> 00:31:49,440
And doctors honestly have
never been able to tell us why

694
00:31:49,440 --> 00:31:52,000
or regain the ability
to blink any more

695
00:31:52,000 --> 00:31:55,100
than they can tell us how I
got sick in the first place.

696
00:31:55,100 --> 00:31:57,320
In not much more than
the blink of an eye,

697
00:31:57,320 --> 00:32:00,400
both of those things
just happened.

698
00:32:00,400 --> 00:32:03,130
And I think at this
point, now that I

699
00:32:03,130 --> 00:32:05,410
had everything back
except my legs,

700
00:32:05,410 --> 00:32:08,950
I felt like all I needed
was one more blink.

701
00:32:08,950 --> 00:32:11,410
My parents never
forgot the promise

702
00:32:11,410 --> 00:32:13,810
they made to be back when I
was first grasping everything

703
00:32:13,810 --> 00:32:15,840
that had happened to me.

704
00:32:15,840 --> 00:32:18,360
They promised me that
they would do everything

705
00:32:18,360 --> 00:32:20,940
they can to help me get back
everything that was taken away

706
00:32:20,940 --> 00:32:25,500
from me, and that they would
leave no stone unturned.

707
00:32:25,500 --> 00:32:27,000
And it was that
promise that led us

708
00:32:27,000 --> 00:32:30,900
to a world renowned paralysis
recovery center in California.

709
00:32:30,900 --> 00:32:33,990
They treat all
kinds of individuals

710
00:32:33,990 --> 00:32:37,230
with various forms of paralysis,
and my mom thought maybe

711
00:32:37,230 --> 00:32:39,910
they could help me. For the
first few weeks of trying,

712
00:32:39,910 --> 00:32:41,820
we got nothing out
of my legs, nothing

713
00:32:41,820 --> 00:32:43,720
at all, not even a twitch.

714
00:32:43,720 --> 00:32:47,190
And honestly, it appeared to be
a total bust, which, of course,

715
00:32:47,190 --> 00:32:49,890
was incredibly disappointing.

716
00:32:49,890 --> 00:32:53,520
But I knew, deep down, I
couldn't just give up.

717
00:32:53,520 --> 00:32:55,470
I just needed a blink.

718
00:32:55,470 --> 00:32:57,210
We'd been there a few
weeks, and it was then

719
00:32:57,210 --> 00:32:59,190
time to go home
to New Hampshire.

720
00:32:59,190 --> 00:33:01,290
And as the story goes,
it was on our way home

721
00:33:01,290 --> 00:33:03,180
that my mom had an epiphany.

722
00:33:03,180 --> 00:33:06,300
She called my dad
and simply said,

723
00:33:06,300 --> 00:33:07,950
"Larry, do you
remember how we talked

724
00:33:07,950 --> 00:33:09,550
about how the doctors told us

725
00:33:09,550 --> 00:33:11,940
we shouldn't mortgage
the house chasing

726
00:33:11,940 --> 00:33:14,100
down this one in
10 million chance

727
00:33:14,100 --> 00:33:15,990
that Victoria will walk again?

728
00:33:15,990 --> 00:33:19,360
And you remember how we talked
about me going back to work

729
00:33:19,360 --> 00:33:23,040
now that the kids are grown
and Victoria's doing well?"

730
00:33:23,040 --> 00:33:24,990
To which my dad
nervously replied,

731
00:33:24,990 --> 00:33:27,910
"Yes, where you going with this?"

732
00:33:27,910 --> 00:33:31,470
My mom continued, "well, I
want to open up a Project

733
00:33:31,470 --> 00:33:33,930
Walk here on the East
Coast where Victoria

734
00:33:33,930 --> 00:33:35,470
could get therapy every day

735
00:33:35,470 --> 00:33:38,100
and we could help all kinds
of other people like her

736
00:33:38,100 --> 00:33:40,020
who need this sort of treatment.

737
00:33:40,020 --> 00:33:41,672
And we can help
other families who

738
00:33:41,672 --> 00:33:43,380
have been through what
we've been through.

739
00:33:43,380 --> 00:33:44,680
And I've figured
out the numbers,

740
00:33:44,680 --> 00:33:45,820
And we can afford to do it

741
00:33:45,820 --> 00:33:49,020
if we mortgage
the house." By now,

742
00:33:49,020 --> 00:33:50,850
you probably know
enough about my mom

743
00:33:50,850 --> 00:33:54,300
to know she is the kind of
woman who doesn't give up.

744
00:33:54,300 --> 00:33:56,620
And so, they mortgaged the house,

745
00:33:56,620 --> 00:33:59,640
And that's how Project
Walk Boston was born.

746
00:33:59,640 --> 00:34:02,550
And when it opened, I
was in there every day,

747
00:34:02,550 --> 00:34:05,280
twice a day, training
like an NFL running back

748
00:34:05,280 --> 00:34:07,890
getting ready for his
first shot at the pros.

749
00:34:07,890 --> 00:34:10,909
And this led to the tiniest
flicker of activity

750
00:34:10,909 --> 00:34:14,460
in one of my hip flexors. I was
on the treadmill at the time,

751
00:34:14,460 --> 00:34:16,949
but my treadmill was
a little different

752
00:34:16,949 --> 00:34:19,949
than what you might see
at your local health club.

753
00:34:19,949 --> 00:34:23,370
I was held up by this big
overhead harness to support me,

754
00:34:23,370 --> 00:34:26,070
and I had wires and sensors
hooked up to my legs

755
00:34:26,070 --> 00:34:29,190
that led to various monitors.
And my trainers would move

756
00:34:29,190 --> 00:34:31,050
my legs for me,
forcing my muscles

757
00:34:31,050 --> 00:34:34,350
to go through the
motions of walking to try

758
00:34:34,350 --> 00:34:35,520
and wake them up.

759
00:34:35,520 --> 00:34:37,949
And so we're doing this like
we had done plenty of times

760
00:34:37,949 --> 00:34:39,570
before,

761
00:34:39,570 --> 00:34:43,290
and I hear one of my trainers
go, "We got something,

762
00:34:43,290 --> 00:34:44,699
we got something."

763
00:34:44,699 --> 00:34:47,230
And I remember thinking,
well, what does that mean?

764
00:34:47,230 --> 00:34:51,030
What what do you...what do
you mean, what do we got?

765
00:34:51,030 --> 00:34:52,112
Little more.

766
00:34:52,112 --> 00:34:54,070
And he started calling
the other trainers over,

767
00:34:54,070 --> 00:34:56,920
and everyone is kind of
freaking out, me included.

768
00:34:56,920 --> 00:34:59,640
And that one of my
right hip flexors

769
00:34:59,640 --> 00:35:01,180
was showing signs of firing.

770
00:35:01,180 --> 00:35:03,600
There was activity in the
muscle, exactly what we

771
00:35:03,600 --> 00:35:06,840
had been hoping for. Exactly
what had been nonexistent

772
00:35:06,840 --> 00:35:08,400
for nearly a decade.

773
00:35:08,400 --> 00:35:11,140
And as you can imagine,
it was a huge day.

774
00:35:11,140 --> 00:35:13,420
And it was the blink I'd been
desperately searching for.

775
00:35:13,420 --> 00:35:15,610
And it was not much,
but it was something,

776
00:35:15,610 --> 00:35:17,400
and with that
something, the hope

777
00:35:17,400 --> 00:35:20,770
came pouring back. With the
help of my amazing trainers,

778
00:35:20,770 --> 00:35:23,670
within the next few months,
I trained harder and harder,

779
00:35:23,670 --> 00:35:26,640
and eventually, I learned to
stand again, to take a step,

780
00:35:26,640 --> 00:35:29,580
to walk, jump and to
run, because all it takes

781
00:35:29,580 --> 00:35:30,150
is a flicker.

782
00:35:30,150 --> 00:35:31,150
All it takes is a blink

783
00:35:31,150 --> 00:35:34,270
and you just need to fan
that flame. And all of that,

784
00:35:34,270 --> 00:35:37,110
all of that hard work,
all of those blinks

785
00:35:37,110 --> 00:35:39,785
led me to Hollywood and
being able to do this.

786
00:35:44,950 --> 00:36:50,580
(Music)

787
00:36:50,580 --> 00:36:53,620
Now before I go any further,
let me just share with you

788
00:36:53,620 --> 00:36:55,120
one of the key
learnings of my life

789
00:36:55,120 --> 00:36:55,710
so far.

790
00:36:55,710 --> 00:36:57,090
Listen up.

791
00:36:57,090 --> 00:36:59,260
Life is better in
pink fringey pants.

792
00:36:59,260 --> 00:37:00,480
You can do anything.

793
00:37:00,480 --> 00:37:00,980
Who knew?

794
00:37:00,980 --> 00:37:02,140
I'm seriously

795
00:37:02,140 --> 00:37:04,920
I'm seriously
serious about this.

796
00:37:04,920 --> 00:37:07,110
You put on a pair
of hot pink fringies

797
00:37:07,110 --> 00:37:08,900
and it's impossible
not to smile.

798
00:37:08,900 --> 00:37:09,650
You've got to try it.

799
00:37:09,650 --> 00:37:12,210
I'm telling you, next
time you need a little

800
00:37:12,210 --> 00:37:14,690
pick me up, hot pink
fringey pants.

801
00:37:14,690 --> 00:37:17,190
Who knows, I might even have
hot pink fringey pants on right

802
00:37:17,190 --> 00:37:18,000
now.

803
00:37:18,000 --> 00:37:22,260
That's the beauty of Zoom
and all these Webex calls.

804
00:37:22,260 --> 00:37:26,190
So, if you need a pick
me up, hot pink fringey pants.

805
00:37:26,190 --> 00:37:30,210
but to my final final, more
serious closing thought,

806
00:37:30,210 --> 00:37:34,170
I was very young when my life
took a very dramatic and very

807
00:37:34,170 --> 00:37:37,560
sudden turn for the worse, and
it is truly my sincere prayer

808
00:37:37,560 --> 00:37:40,760
that none of you ever go
through anything like it.

809
00:37:40,760 --> 00:37:43,850
But unfortunately,
I can assure you,

810
00:37:43,850 --> 00:37:45,440
you will come upon
your own challenges

811
00:37:45,440 --> 00:37:48,330
in life. Some big, some
small, but for sure,

812
00:37:48,330 --> 00:37:52,760
challenges, obstacles, problems,
whatever you want to call them,

813
00:37:52,760 --> 00:37:56,850
unfortunately, they are part of
this crazy journey called life.

814
00:37:56,850 --> 00:38:00,090
But I have found that the
real suffering doesn't

815
00:38:00,090 --> 00:38:03,480
come from the challenge
or the obstacle itself.

816
00:38:03,480 --> 00:38:06,120
It comes from the
things we tell ourselves

817
00:38:06,120 --> 00:38:09,630
about the consequences,
about the future,

818
00:38:09,630 --> 00:38:11,880
about what's going to happen
because of what already

819
00:38:11,880 --> 00:38:13,600
happened.

820
00:38:13,600 --> 00:38:17,110
Let me say that again. The
real suffering doesn't come

821
00:38:17,110 --> 00:38:20,020
from the challenge or
the obstacle itself.

822
00:38:20,020 --> 00:38:22,660
It comes from the
things we tell ourselves

823
00:38:22,660 --> 00:38:24,910
about what's going
to happen because

824
00:38:24,910 --> 00:38:27,200
of what already happened.

825
00:38:27,200 --> 00:38:30,620
The real terror for me was
not the illness itself,

826
00:38:30,620 --> 00:38:33,300
it was the things I was telling
myself about the future

827
00:38:33,300 --> 00:38:35,600
that was really scary.

828
00:38:35,600 --> 00:38:38,120
Would I be locked in
forever? Would I ever

829
00:38:38,120 --> 00:38:41,790
be able to connect with
the outside world again?

830
00:38:41,790 --> 00:38:44,190
So when life hits
back at you, when

831
00:38:44,190 --> 00:38:48,390
these unwelcomed and
unexpected challenges test you,

832
00:38:48,390 --> 00:38:50,970
when that happens, you can either
let those obstacles pull you

833
00:38:50,970 --> 00:38:54,200
down, or you can stop,

834
00:38:54,200 --> 00:38:55,490
take a deep breath,

835
00:38:55,490 --> 00:38:57,710
and take a moment to find the
things in your own life

836
00:38:57,710 --> 00:39:00,020
that you have to
be grateful for.

837
00:39:00,020 --> 00:39:02,600
I can assure you, that
even when it appears

838
00:39:02,600 --> 00:39:04,730
you've hit rock
bottom, and trust me,

839
00:39:04,730 --> 00:39:07,310
I've been a frequent
flyer there,

840
00:39:07,310 --> 00:39:10,370
There are always things
to be grateful for. When

841
00:39:10,370 --> 00:39:14,630
you do that, when you focus
on what you still have,

842
00:39:14,630 --> 00:39:17,240
you will find it
changes your perspective,

843
00:39:17,240 --> 00:39:20,600
and that change in
perspective creates hope.

844
00:39:20,600 --> 00:39:24,272
Hope that tomorrow will be
just a bit better than today,

845
00:39:24,272 --> 00:39:25,730
and when you take
that hope and you

846
00:39:25,730 --> 00:39:28,280
mix in your own hard
work, lots and lots

847
00:39:28,280 --> 00:39:30,600
of hard work, I might add,

848
00:39:30,600 --> 00:39:32,400
I believe you will
find yourself back

849
00:39:32,400 --> 00:39:35,380
on the path to living
out your own dreams.

850
00:39:35,380 --> 00:39:38,050
And I think this is
particularly true these days

851
00:39:38,050 --> 00:39:41,230
as we all find ourselves
in these uncharted waters,

852
00:39:41,230 --> 00:39:44,440
uncertain about tomorrow,
and perhaps incredibly anxious

853
00:39:44,440 --> 00:39:45,940
about today.

854
00:39:45,940 --> 00:39:48,190
I think it's a great time
to focus on gratitude,

855
00:39:48,190 --> 00:39:50,680
because despite what's
going on in the world,

856
00:39:50,680 --> 00:39:53,350
I believe if you
look deep enough,

857
00:39:53,350 --> 00:39:56,140
you can always find
things to be grateful for.

858
00:39:56,140 --> 00:39:59,320
I'm beyond grateful to have
had this opportunity to share

859
00:39:59,320 --> 00:40:00,810
my story with you all today.

860
00:40:00,810 --> 00:40:02,603
Congratulations again.

861
00:40:02,603 --> 00:40:04,270
And based on the
results you've achieved

862
00:40:04,270 --> 00:40:07,510
this year, of all
years, it's clear to me

863
00:40:07,510 --> 00:40:11,230
that you know how to
redefine what's possible.

864
00:40:11,230 --> 00:40:13,180
You've demonstrated that.

865
00:40:13,180 --> 00:40:16,000
And with that, you can
reset your expectations

866
00:40:16,000 --> 00:40:17,030
for what's possible

867
00:40:17,030 --> 00:40:20,680
next year, and the
year after that.

868
00:40:20,680 --> 00:40:23,190
And the year after that,
can you use what

869
00:40:23,190 --> 00:40:24,990
you've accomplished
as the proof you

870
00:40:24,990 --> 00:40:29,350
need to set a new standard for
what's possible for tomorrow?

871
00:40:29,350 --> 00:40:32,520
There's a time when this

872
00:40:32,520 --> 00:40:38,680
made this and this
seem impossible.

873
00:40:38,680 --> 00:40:41,710
But it wasn't. All
I needed to do was

874
00:40:41,710 --> 00:40:44,740
to redefine what's possible.

875
00:40:44,740 --> 00:40:46,640
Thank you for sharing
this time with me,

876
00:40:46,640 --> 00:40:50,500
and I wish you all peace, good
health and continued success.

877
00:40:50,500 --> 00:40:52,380
Thank you.