If you Google the word “underdog,” Minda Dentler’s photo should accompany it. She is the true definition of a person not blessed with great size, talent, and resources yet managed to achieve great things against all odds.
Dentler was born in India and contracted polio at just six months old, leaving her paralyzed from the hips down. Her parents could not afford to take care of her, so they dropped her off at an orphanage.
When she was three years old, Dentler was adopted by an American family who took care of her, enabling her to have the necessary care and surgeries to make her situation more tolerable.
At 34-years-old, Dentler, who didn’t partake in many sports because of her disabilities, decided she wanted to do an Ironman event, which consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run.
“You have to focus on what you CAN do,” Dentler told a Ted Talk audience.
Dentler eventually qualified for the Ironman Championship in Hawaii in 2012, but failed to meet the cut-off times and had to drop out of the race. While she didn’t achieve her goal of finishing the race, she did learn a very important lesson:
“Big dreams can only be realized when you’re ready to fail,” Dentler said. “You need to fail in order to move forward.”
Dentler was back in Kona the very next year and finished the Ironman event in just over 14 hours, becoming the first female wheelchair athlete to complete the race.
“Against all odds, I achieved my dream,” Dentler told Rotary.org. “It wasn’t so much about conquering Kona as it was about conquering polio,” she added.
Finishing the most grueling and challenging event made Dentler realize something else.
“It doesn’t matter who I am or what I look like. I’m able to be successful.”
God bless her!
Photo Credit: Facebook