Since Amy Van Dyken-Rouen was six years old, she has made her life about never giving up. She was diagnosed with severe asthma at 18 months old and less than five years later, she hit the pool after her doctor prescribed swimming to help her breathing and endurance. She swam at her own pace. Six years later, Amy could swim the entire length of the pool without stopping – she kept pushing forward and getting stronger.
At 23 years old, Amy became the first woman to win four gold medals in a single Olympics. In the 1996 Summer Olympics, the Olympic Swimmer took gold in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 4x100-meter freestyle relay, and 4x100-meter medley relay. Even after a shoulder injury, Amy kept pushing and swimming. She won two more gold medals in the 2000 Summer Olympics and is one of only a handful of Olympians whose medals are all gold.
How Amy Became a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Patient Advocate & Survivor
On June 6th, 2014, Amy was in a severe ATV accident, going over a curb down a seven-foot embankment. The injury severed her spinal cord at the T11 vertebra. Amy was rushed via Life Flight to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center where she received surgery her physicians weren’t sure she’d survive. But after hours of surgery and initial recovery, Amy was ready to push forward in her rehabilitation and bring her fans and supporters along for the journey online.
Since her ATV injury, the Olympic swimmer and six-time gold medalist, Amy Van Dyken-Rouen has used her Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and ongoing recovery to empower other survivors. “My accident happened so I can be an example of never giving up and always moving ahead,” Amy told Angel MedFlight months ago.
But the patient advocate’s mission to inspire others she calls “differently-abled” to never give up has never been more personal than it is now.
Amy’s story of recovery, survival, and moving forward has been a shared story watched over the years by fans and SCI patients around the world online across social media mediums. Following her injury in 2014, she took a Life Flight to the Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center. From there the University of Arizona alumnae and Olympic swimmer needed a post-op medical flight. She was transported by Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance to Craig Hospital for rehabilitation to learn how to live her new life.
"This is the toughest competition I've ever had, but it's completely different (from swimming)"
"I will say the fact I am an athlete and have been training really hard has helped me in this recovery process."
Meet Swimmer, Van Dyken Fan, & SCI Patient, Carley Baldwin
Years later, Angel MedFlight transported another aspiring swimmer and University of Arizona grad to Craig Hospital for rehabilitation after a Spinal Cord Injury. While on vacation almost a year ago, Carley Baldwin dove into the ocean in Belize and hit a sand bar. “I knew something was terribly wrong because I floated to the surface and couldn’t move my body,” Baldwin explained to 9 News.
Carley has been an Amy Van Dyken fan since she swam competitively as a child.
“I remember watching her in the ’96 Olympics, my entire swim team huddled in the room of the rec center getting out of practice and watching her race,” Baldwin said. “Honestly, I thought of Amy because of her spirit and everything. And I followed her over the years after her injury.”
Her family had placed photos around her room to keep her positive throughout her recovery, and one of those photos shows a 9-year-old Carly in a swimming cap smiling with the woman she calls her “biggest role model”, Amy Van Dyken.
Olympic Swimmer, Amy Van Dyken and a then aspiring child swimmer, Carley Baldwin, smile for the camera after the Olympic gold medalist was spotted at a swim meet.
Carley’s family reached out to Amy, who decided to come see her at Craig Hospital.
“Your parents don’t what you’re going through,” Amy told 9 News. “Your friends don’t know what you’re going through, but people who have been here know that you’re going through.”
The bond between the two women grows stronger every day – they regularly speak on the phone and exchange texts daily. Their backgrounds, friendship, and the many ways their lives intersect was recently highlighted on an HBO Real Sports episode featuring the Olympic champion. The episode also features Shaquille O’Neal.
The Real Sports episode follows both women on their recovery journeys in an Unchartered Waters segment. Footage of Amy on her medical flight flickered on screen while the program built the story around her injury and her personal goal of inspiring others who have been through the same situation, like Carly.
The post Amy Van Dyken Shares about Inspiring Others and an Unbreakable Bond appeared first on Angel MedFlight.