Being an inspiration by overcoming obstacles

Posted April 25, 2014 at 3:28 pm

By Julie Ann Madden

j Hawarden library author Kendra Gottsleben with Sandy Kuiper and Julie Wegner.tif

Sioux Falls, S.D., author Kendra Gottsleben (r) talks with guests Sandy Kuiper and Julie Wegner, both of Hawarden, at Gottsleben’s book signing Saturday at the Hawarden Public Library.

It would be hard to find someone more able and ready to tackle any obstacle in his or her path.

At just 3 feet tall, Kendra Gottsleben of Sioux Falls, S.D., has a personal philosophy that everyone should adopt: “When life gives you lemons, turn right around and squeeze those lemons to make the best lemonade possible.”

On Saturday, Gottsleben held a book signing at the Hawarden Public Library for her first book, “Live, Laugh, Lemonade: A Journey of Choosing to Beat the Odds.”

Gottsleben was born with mucopolysaccharides, also known as MPS. Her body doesn’t produce the enzyme which cleanses her body’s cells. Therefore, her cells fill with a gluey-like substance.

Gottsleben had no signs of a disability until age four when she was diagnosed. Her most noticeable symptom is being short.

At age 29, Gottsleben has accepted much about her physical limitations, including every Friday she spends hours receiving an enzyme infusion.

Gottsleben not only graduated from high school but earned her bachelor’s degree with a double major in Sociology and Psychology from Augustana College in Sioux Falls. She currently is employed as the Social Media coordinator for the Center for Disabilities at the Sanford School of Medicine.

In addition, she is now working on her second book, a children’s book, and has her own business, Kenimagine.

“My goal in life is to be there to encourage others,” said Gottsleben. “I feel that is my purpose in life.”

“I have a ‘can do’ attitude,” said Gottsleben. “I believe life is what you make it.”

“Everybody has obstacles,” she said, explaining some are visible and others not. “They are just part of life.”

“Try to see the person first, not the disability,” said Gottsleben, who faces this obstacle every time she meets someone.

People with visible disabilities have so many talents they contribute to society — a lot of times people assume they can’t do, said her mother.

“When I reach a goal, I set the bar higher and try harder,” said Gottsleben. “If you dream it, you sure can achieve it.”

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