Arlen’s message of hope and perseverance echoes through DWTS

Valentin Chmerkovskiy (L) and ESPN’s Victoria Arlen perform on DWTS’ “Disney Night.” (Eric McCandless/ABC)

Feeling she has been “blessed beyond words” with the opportunity, ESPN reporter/host Victoria Arlen inches closer to a possible mirrorball trophy each week as she competes in the 25th season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.

Arlen and her professional dance partner Val Chmerkovskiy have survived six weeks of eliminations heading into tonight’s episode (8 p.m. ET, ABC). One of eight remaining couples from the original cast of 13, they will dance in a “team dance” tonight in addition to performing a Viennese Waltz during the Halloween-themed episode.

Arlen took a few moments between rehearsals to answer some questions for Front Row:

Has the DWTS experience been all that you hoped it would be?
It honestly has been beyond anything I could’ve ever hoped or dreamed of. I am truly blessed beyond words not only for this experience but for all of the people I have met along the way. To be able to go from being paralyzed a year-and-a-half ago and told I would “never walk again” to now not only walking but dancing. . . there are truly no words.

How does it feel to get the exposure you and your story have been getting in the national and entertainment media?
Initially it was a bit surreal, and I guess in some ways it still is. But the response and attention has been incredible. People from all over the world have reached out and shared their stories. And every time I dance more lives are changed. To be a voice for the voiceless and give hope to the hopeless is truly a gift from God. Val and I knew from the beginning that we had a bigger purpose on this show. Having this platform has given me an opportunity to help others and spread love and hope in a world that really needs it.