SKATE IT OUT: Rollerblader on emotional journey makes local stop

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

The notion to skate 1,100 miles from Houston to Chicago came to Natalia Victoria in a vision from her late mother.

“It seems crazy,” said the Houston native during her stop in Arkadelphia. Her mother passed away four years ago, and in Natalia’s grieving she was moved to don a pair of rollerblades and skate to her mother’s former hometown.

In mid-June Natalia began her journey and on Friday morning she arrived at dawn for rest at a Caddo Valley hotel. Arkadelphia would be her second Arkansas stop, as she had departed Texarkana at dusk Thursday and skated north on Highway 67 through the night hours.

With a crew following behind her to light the path ahead, Natalia only skates at night when there is less traffic on the highways. At an average speed of 20 mph, she typically rakes in 80 miles per night, with breaks to ice her feet or rest. This trek is the first of its kind for her, as Natalia is a roller dancer rather than a long-distance speed skater. Her mother, too, was a performing artist and skater.

“She was my safe place, my person to go to with vulnerability to share my personal struggles and ask for advice,” Natalia recalled of her mother. “She would listen and then encourage me to go ‘skate it out.’ Throughout the years, I’ve reflected over many miles, and she was right. The answers always came from within me. Skating is my meditation, a way to recharge myself. This is where I find peace and resolution. It’s also a place where dreams are born and develop into goals.”

It’s an emotional journey for Natalia, one that she describes as like art. “It’s movement, it’s transformation. It’s a journey of understanding, peace and healing.”

After the crew got some rest they drove Friday afternoon into Arkadelphia for a bite to eat and a tour of some local artwork, including the murals in downtown. Natalia continued her journey north that evening as the sun set, and arrived in Little Rock on Saturday morning as the sun was rising.

Though the voyage was three years in the making, when she would begin was an unknown. She had been training with the conviction she would one day do it. She started the trip on her own dime, and has gotten some donations for food, fuel and lodging.

In addition to Arkadelphia, Natalia plans to also visit Little Rock, St. Louis and Springfield on her grueling trip before arriving at her destination of Chicago.

So far the trip has Natalia feeling refreshed both emotionally and physically. “I’ve made it this far, and I’ve got some really killer blisters,” she said. “I feel great. I thought I would be really sore.”

Although she isn’t certain when she’ll arrive in Chicago, she has a feeling she’ll get there on July 12, her mother’s birthday.

Her endpoint will be the Picasso statue in Chicago’s Daley Plaza, where friends, relatives and her 11-year-old daughter will be awaiting her arrival.

Natalia’s longtime friend and film producer Debra Gutjahr-Hale is documenting the event for a possible Netflix production.

The cross-country trip is being funded through donations. To donate to Natalia’s cause, visit

A professional artist and performing artist by trade in a wide variety of mediums, Natalia passionately preaches about the importance of chasing one’s dreams.

“It feels really good to embrace who you want to be,” Natalia said. “You don’t want to live your life and later regret that you didn’t live for yourself — that you didn’t become who you wanted to be.”

Natalia further stressed the need to write your own story along the way.

“I’ve found that creating your own mold and writing your own story and being happy with the choices you’ve made to follow your dreams are very, very important,” said Natalia. “You are allowing yourself to be free and create the way you need to create.”

Natalia selected the Picasso statue because of its sentimental value to her mother.

“She was from Chicago, and we often drove back and forth to visit family,” Natalia said. “Skating through these places where we’ve made memories over all the years is something I’m looking forward to because more than ever, I find comfort going to places we’ve been together, and enjoying things she loved. It makes me feel closer to her.”

Natalia hopes accomplishing this feat will serve as a springboard to other personal goals and ventures.

“It is my great hope that when I am done skating this 1,100-mile journey, I will be empowered and enlightened greater than ever before” Natalia said. One of Natalia’s long-term dreams is to open an interactive museum/gallery and studio/venue in her hometown of Houston.

Natalia is hopeful her experience will inspire others to pursue their own dreams. “Your story could be someone else’s guide,” she said.

Until then, Natalia plans to do what she’s always done: skate it out!

To follow Natalia’s journey, visit or follow #TheEnVieProject on social media. She is also on TikTok @envie_nataliavictoria.

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