After a rare medical condition left Arlen paralyzed from the waist down, she overcame adversity and made it to the 2012 Paralympics. Most people would consider that the end of the journey, but Arlen was determined to walk again. So with the help of her parents, she started the long process of getting back on her feet.
According to Arlen, it all started with a twitch in her right leg back in November of 2015. That was the first building block on her road to walking again, a goal she achieved less than a year later.
"I think throughout this whole journey, all I've needed is a small blink of hope to keep me going," Arlen told TV Guide. "You get a spark and you just keep fanning the flame."
She may have regained her mobility in 2016, but there's a reason Arlen chose 2017 as her most memorable year on this week's Dancing with the Stars, which celebrated the biggest moments in the competitors' lives.
"This past year has been kind of the first year where I can just live and not be fighting to get back what was taken away from me," Arlen explains. "From 2006 to 2016 I was fighting and catching up... 2017 was the first year where I didn't have any - I was finally alive and could just be back and didn't have to be reminded of what I had lost."
The theme of being alive again led to a seriously stunning routine, which Arlen obviously dominated as she's done all season. And the way she broke down into tears after it was over felt like it had to be such a catharsis for her.
For a girl who's only been walking for a year, after 10 years of paralysis, she's constantly getting rave reviews from the judges about her technique and how well she's executing quick steps that other stars are struggling with. While judges' feedback isn't a golden ticket on Dancing with the Stars, Arlen is appreciative of it none the less. "This whole journey I've been on has been incredibly emotional, and so this is just a really powerful moment of triumph I think." she says.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.