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Celebration of Health gala caps College of Health Solutions' 10th anniversary festivities

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen speaking to an audience at the ASU College of Health Solutions Celebration of Health event.

Six-time Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen was the keynote speaker at the inaugural Celebration of Health event on Oct. 19 in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The event was part of 10th anniversary festivities for the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University.

October 25, 2022

The College of Health Solutions recognized its 10th anniversary Oct. 19 with the inaugural Celebration of Health gala.

The event took place at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and raised more than $60,000 for scholarships.

Celebration of Health recognized health leaders from across the Valley for their impact in the community. The inaugural Celebration of Health Awards honorees were:

  • Community Impact Award: Circle the City.
  • Health Equity Award: Arizona Burn Center - Valleywise Health.
  • Health Innovation Award: Terros Health Cafe 27 Youth Center.
  • Outstanding Alumnus Award: Denee Bex, Tumbleweed Nutrition.

The event included an interactive showcase with exhibitions of College of Health Solutions research in addition to entertainment from the Devil Clefs acapella singers.

Inspiring words from Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was an inspiring keynote speech from six-time Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen. In Atlanta in 1996, Van Dyken-Rouen became the first American female athlete to earn four gold medals in a single instance of Olympic Games.

She spoke of the challenges she encountered leading up to her Olympic success, but also of the life-changing obstacles she faced after being paralyzed in an ATV accident in 2014.

On June 6 of that year, on her way home from dinner in Show Low, Arizona, Van Dyken-Rouen’s ATV hit a curb. She fell over a six-foot dropoff and broke her back. At the hospital, the surgeon told her he wasn’t confident she would survive the operation and that she should say goodbye to her husband.

“I came out of that operation and I was so happy,” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “I died several times in that incident. I’m not supposed to be here.”

That experience changed her. She decided she was going to be a better person and “live every moment for what it is.”

Since then, she has competed in CrossFit and rock climbing and has tried skydiving.

“I love everything that I am doing, but there are those days when you wake up and the nerve pain is out of control,” she said. “The nerve pain tells me I’m alive.”

College of Health Solutions Dean Deborah Helitzer presented Van Dyken-Rouen with a certificate naming her an honorary alumna of the college.

In addition to Van Dyken Rouen’s speech, the event featured remarks from students Christian Leo and Renuka Vemuri, alumna Kayla Koren and Helitzer.

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