EXETER — Victoria’s Victory Foundation delivered a special Christmas gift this holiday season by surprising a young man in Groveton with a handicap accessible van.

Exeter native and Paralympian Victoria Arlen created the foundation in 2017 to help people around the world achieve their own personal victories. Last year, Arlen placed fifth on “Dancing with the Stars,” quickly becoming a fan favorite for her moving story of overcoming obstacles. Arlen regained her ability to walk after spending 10 years in a wheelchair, as well as a significant period of time in a vegetative state.

A spokesman for the foundation said the gift was made possible by many people working together to help others.

The journey began when a young man with a spinal cord injury, Rob K., was no longer going to need his handicap accessible van. Rob and his Aunt Dianne decided rather than sell the van, they wanted to pay it forward by donating it so that someone else could benefit from the use of the van.

Meanwhile, the uncle of a young man who is a quadriplegic as a result of a car accident applied for a Victory Scholarship. Knowing that his nephew Sage was not getting out of the house due to limitations on transportation, he wanted to offer him the opportunity to have the freedom to leave his home, attend more training and recovery sessions and be a part of his community.

Upon receiving the donation of a van, Victoria’s Victory Foundation worked with Mobility Works in Londonderry to retrofit the van to fit the needs of Sage and his wheelchair.

On Dec. 19, Arlen dressed as an elf and the crew from Victoria’s Victory Foundation and Mobility Works set out on the two and half hour journey north of the foundation's home offices to surprise Sage with the van.

More than just the grant of transportation, Arlen said the Victory Scholarship provides freedom, accessibility to services and hope.

Sage told Arlen that this gift has made him the happiest person alive and he is truly appreciative.

Victoria’s Victory Foundation developed the Victory Scholarship program because their founder, Arlen, knows firsthand that when struck with a disability there is no manual to guide a family to the resources they need. Insurance is limited in what they will cover for a person with a mobility challenge or special needs.

“What I’ve even learned in the last decade, people can’t even get out of their house,” she said, referring to those with disabilities. “They’re kind of forgotten, the forgotten community. When you have a spinal or brain injury, or any kind of devastating illness, you kind of fall through the cracks in a sense. Your world implodes and no one is really there to help pick up the pieces.”

Arlen, she said, wants to help people pick up the pieces, and assist them in defining their goal.

“I want to be able to give them those wings,” she said. “I want to show them that you don’t have to stay down, you can get up and we’ll be those helping hands to help them.”

The Victory Scholarship program is dependent on the generosity of the sponsors, donors and grants. Donations are used to help fulfill grants for assistance with training and recovery sessions, wheelchairs, home and vehicle adaptations, nursing services and more.

To learn more about the foundation or make a tax-deductible donation visit victoriasvictory.org.