This is the story of Ironman world champion Minda Dentler. When she was 6 months old; she was paralyzed from the waist because of polio and relinquished by her mom at an orphanage in Mumbai, India. She wasn't expected to live past her 18th birthday. She had no hopes that her life would progress toward becoming anything of note or that she would have the chance to be free and overcome extremely preventable disease.
At age 3, she was adopted by Bruce and Ann Dentler and became part of their family. She moved to Spokane, Washington, USA shortly after her 3rd birthday. Throughout the following years, she experienced series of surgeries on her hips, legs, and back to fix her body and she could eventually walk with leg braces and crutches.
While living in New York, she met Dick Traum, the first amputee to finish the New York City Marathon in 1976. Dick later established a non-profit, Achilles International, which gives free training and support to help individuals with disabilities to participate in sports. He gave her a hand cycle, which is a three-wheeled recumbent bike propelled by the arms, and encouraged her to prepare for a marathon. This opened up another world of opportunity for her, and she finished the New York City Marathon in her hand cycle in 2006.
Her next test was believed to be impossible for a female wheelchair athlete: the Ironman Triathlon. She made the progress to triathlon and completed her first Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, and qualified for the championship in Kona, Hawaii, in 2012.
She had qualified for the race and earned the right to contend on a level playing field, but if she completed the race, it would mean something more than accomplishing another personal goal she felt.
Each stroke in the water and wrench forward on my hand cycle were movements for the individuals who couldn't lift limbs paralyzed by polio. With each rotation of the wheels on my racing wheelchair, I was moving forward for the millions of polio survivors who might never get this opportunity. When I finally crossed the finish line 14 hours and 39 minutes after I began, I was overwhelmed with excitement and joy. It was a storybook ending and the acknowledgement of a fantasy that appeared to be difficult to accomplish- said, Dentler
"I believe it's important for my daughter to see her mother be strong and healthy and to see that defining goals are very essential," she said.
She said one of the best delights she has felt as a mother was watching her daughter get vaccinated for the first time— a health benefit which she never received as a child.
"As a person who has been affected by a preventable disease, I have turned into a supporter for worldwide childhood immunization and polio eradication," she said.
Minda Dentler a 39-year-old mother, motivational speaker and insurance executive, who lives in New York City, has finished 30 triathlons, including four Ironman World Championships. She indeed is an inspiration for millions of people to rise above the disability and prove the world your real ability & win against your odds in life.
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