Being an inspiration by overcoming obstacles

Posted April 25, 2014 at 3:29 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.”

The Akron Opera House announces the final performance of the 2013-14 Theatre season.

AOH is presenting The Doc Walker Trio for one night only, so make plans now to attend.

The Doc Walker Trio performance will be presented Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. You may want to come early and listen to their background music while the audience is being seated.

To make reservations, call the Akron Opera House ticket line at 712-568-2614. Ticket prices are $16 for adults, $13 for seniors 65 and older, and $8 for Students of high school and younger. Bring your friends along and save more by purchasing a six-ticket package. Our six-ticket package can be shared by six people.

Season ticket holders are encouraged to call and reserve their seats as soon as possible.

The Doc Walker Trio is sponsored by Reed Street Imaging.

The Doc Walker Trio has had an interesting past. It was formed in 1964 using the most experienced jazz musicians in the area. Its members represent a total of over 120 years of professional playing experience.

Greg Olsen from Sioux Falls, S.D., is known as one of the top percussionists in the Midwest, and has played with groups from rock bands to huge big bands and everything in between. He is in such high demand he is kept playing year round in a variety of bands. Greg is versed in all styles of drumming, and demonstrates great skill with the nuances of a jazz trio or the bombast of kicking a big band.

Jerry Houpt, the bass player from Sioux City, is known throughout the area as being a solid rhythm player, with a great ear for musical line. Jerry and Greg combine to provide a rhythm foundation second to none. Jerry and his brother, Glenn (pianist) had a well-known and wonderful group in Siouxland for years. He is in high demand by area groups as well as national groups.

Doc Walker taught orchestra in the Sioux Falls area for 38 years. He plays the piano in the DWT and with other groups. He has many years of classical training on the piano and started teaching himself jazz when he was in junior high. He also plays string bass in jazz groups and was Principal bass in the South Dakota Symphony for many years, and played bass in the Sioux City Symphony. He has been asked to play with artists such as The Carpenters, Doc Severinsen, Mel Torme and Henry Mancini. Doc received the Sioux Falls Mayor’s Award for Excellence In Performing Arts in 2007.

The Doc Walker Trio plays in many varied settings, and performs in styles from traditional jazz to big band styles, and even 1950s rock and some (very) selective country tunes.

The DWT has played for events from weddings to anniversaries to bar mitzvahs. They have played for presidents and senators and parties from six people to huge corporate gatherings.

One of the group’s fortes is background music,. This is one reason country clubs seek their services. Another reason is the DWT understands people like to listen but also like to converse. In the end, the band loves to make music for people to enjoy, and has great fun during the process.

Doc Walker Trio to perform

May 3 at Akron Opera House

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