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Amy Van Dyken's speaking fee falls
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After an ATV accident left her paralyzed from the waist down, six-time swimming Olympic gold medalist, Amy Van Dyken became more than a sports champion. She became a champion for thousands of people with spinal injuries who didn’t have access to the same resources as she did.
Today her non-profit organization, The Amy Van Dyken Foundation helps provide medical supplies to individuals who cannot afford them.
Amy has always pushed herself, surprising people along the way. As a child she couldn’t swim the length of a pool until the age of 12 due to intense asthma. In 1996 Sports Illustrated predicted that she would win three silver medals; instead she took four golds, becoming the first American woman to do so. Prior to the 2000 Olympic trials, she underwent two shoulder surgeries spurring much discussion and rumors that she would not make the cut to go to Sydney. Not only did Amy make the cut, she added two more gold medals to her collection.
After a 2014 accident severed her eleventh vertebrae, doctors speculated that Amy would never walk again, but once more, Amy pushed herself and with the support of her family, fans, and physical therapist, stood without assistance 11 months after the crash. She continues to drive herself in rehabilitation with a smile on her face in addition to serving as a FOX sports news analyst and advocating various charities including her own foundation.
Olympic Celebrity Speaker Amy Van Dyken didn’t expect to exceed in swimming even though it was something she liked since childhood. She suffered from severe asthma and swimming was one of the best ways of relieving it. Following the doctor’s advice, Van Dyken began swimming. She didn’t compete competitively until high school. In 1991, she became the team captain and led her team to a state title. She was named the NCAA Female Swimmer of the Year in 1994. After college, she joined the United States Olympic Training Center to train full-time for the 1996 Olympics.
When she won four gold medals in the 1996 Olympic Games, Van Dyken became the first American female athlete to accomplish such a feat. At the 2000 Olympic Games, she won two gold medals, bringing her count to six gold medals. She won numerous accolades, including the ESPN’s ESPY Female Athlete of the Year, Swimming World magazine’s female Swimmer of the Year, USOC Sports Woman of the Year, Women’s Sports Foundation Sports Woman of the Year, and USA Swimming Swimmer of the Year. She was also inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and the US Olympic Hall of Fame and named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. She also received the ARETE Courage in Sports award. In 2007, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, making her the only American ever to be inducted yet.
Amy Van Dyken does more than just swimming. She also serves as a FOX Sports analyst interviewing some of the most elite athletes and helps out charities and non-profit events. She and her husband, NFL punter Tom Rouen, participated in an event to benefit Colorado Youth Outdoors, a charity that takes families to the great outdoors of Colorado. Van Dyken and her dog, Georgia, are the US representatives of Paws with a Cause (PAWS), a non-profit organization that trains and assists hearing and seizure dogs. She is keen with continuing her role as the National Spokesperson for PAWS.
In June, 2014 Amy’s life changed forever as she was severely injured in an ATV crash. The life threatening injury severed her vertebra and almost ruptured her aorta. After several operations, Van Dyken was paralyzed from the waste down but still managed to keep her spirits up, inspiring millions of Americans.
Amy Van Dyken dispels the romanticized stereotype that Olympic champions are super humans, poking fun at her own expectations of how making the Olympics would change her life. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so excited to wake up the next morning and look in the mirror because I am an Olympian,’” she recalls how she felt. “‘I’m going to have a clear complexion, long flowing hair, and a hot boyfriend.’”
Noting that none of that happened, Amy further demonstrates her normalcy recounting a live interview she had during the Olympics in which the journalist caught her off guard asking her how she felt about breaking the Olympic record. “‘Well, my time broke the Olympic record?’” Amy relays what went through her mind before the reporter corrected her. “‘No you’re the first American woman to win four gold medals in one game.’ I looked dead into the camera and said, ‘Shut up!’”
Amy Van Dyken talks about how training for the Olympics gave her the strength and discipline to overcome her ATV accident and strive to walk again. She attests that she trains just as hard everyday in physical rehabilitation as she did to win her six gold medals. “The power of sport is why I’m here today to talk to you. Without having been strong mentally and physically I wouldn’t be here today,” Amy affirms.
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