AROUND TOWN: Paralyzed Olympian Amy Van Dyken knows there's a reason she survived

By Linda Navarro Updated: November 10, 2017 at 1:14 pm • Published: November 10, 2017 0

Amy Van Dyken knows how lucky she is that she had great insurance.

That was something the delightfully funny, multiple gold-medal-winning, Olympic swimmer didn't have to worry about after she and her ATV went flying off a cliff, leaving her paralyzed. It was so serious, she was told to say her goodbyes to husband Tom Rouen, a former Denver Broncos punter. He told her, "If this is too much, you can let go." The organ donor team was at the ready. Somehow she survived.

At Peak Vista Community Health Center's Oct. 26 Breakfast of Champions, Van Dyken told the 800 guests the funny stuff, starting with struggles she had as a swimmer - like "wanting to kick" the person who invented the butterfly stroke - and even cracked jokes about the challenges she has had attempting to walk at Craig Hospital after her spine was severed.

But she was brought to tears talking about the 90,000 people served by Peak Vista who don't have insurance or whose insurance is inadequate. "This is so important."

She's in a wheelchair, knows all about lack of accessibility and, she said, "Sometimes your day is too much. You close your eyes. But you rock out. I'm here for a reason." She encouraged guests to help those thousands in seven counties who need Peak Vista, and they dug deep, donating more than $225,000.

"Improving the health of our community is possible only through the help of all of you," said Peak Vista head Pam McManus.

The night before the Breakfast of Champions, Van Dyken spent time with sponsors and donors, some longtime friends and several former Olympic teammates at a VIP reception. She waited patiently for everyone who wanted a photo with her and had some lively conversations. And the smile never dimmed.

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