ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Former Olympian Amy Van Dyken-Rouen is headed home after about two months in Craig Hospital where she underwent rehabilitation for a spinal cord injury.
Van Dyken-Rouen was paralyzed in an ATV crash on June 6 in Scottsdale, Arizona. She and her husband, former Broncos punter Tom Rouen, were riding ATV's when Amy hit a curb and went down an embankment. She was flown from Scottsdale to Craig Hospital on June 18.
During therapy at Craig, Van Dyken-Rouen learned how to take care of herself, how to transfer in and out of her wheelchair and even went sailing.
"I feel like I'm going to do everything. I'm going to ride bikes, I'm going to mountain climb, and I'm going to rock climb. I want to do everything," she said in a farewell news conference at the hospital Thursday.
She also added that the expectation of limitations caused by her injury actually encourage her to push harder.
Van Dyken-Rouen's experience has also turned her into an advocate for others with the same injury. While sharing her thoughts Thursday, she shared that her new passion came from a frustration with how little is known about spinal cord injuries.
"The big thing that I want to do is bring awareness to the fact that we need research, we need a cure, we need something," she said.
Van Dyken-Rouen has been tweeting her excitement about leaving the hospital. Earlier this week, she said, "I'm being sent out of the nest and flying on my own."
"I've met some amazing people here and they've really changed the way I think," she said, holding back tears during the news conference. "Of course staff, but I'm also talking about the patients that are here. I've made lifelong friends. They've changed the way I think about the world."
Van Dyken-Rouen starred at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where she became the first U.S. female athlete to win four gold medals in a single games. She captured the 50-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly and also competed on the winning relay teams in the 400 free and 400 medley.
Four years later at Sydney, she added two more golds in the 400 free and 400 medley relays before retiring from competition.