Someone You Should Know: Overcoming obstacles

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 8:17 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A Sioux Falls woman has been overcoming obstacles all of her life and she’s excelled, which included getting a big honor recently.

“I live my life by, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade."

It’s a well-known phrase, but it’s truly what Kendra Gottsleben has lived by. She was born with a rare genetic condition called mucopolysaccharidosis type 3.

“What it actually means is, I am missing the enzyme that is needed to cleanse myself. So my cells filled up with a gooey like substance that affects my connective tissue. Eyes, heart, and other vital organs. So for me, that has also kind of stunted my growth,” says Kendra.

“Our attitude from the beginning is. This is what she has, this isn’t going to hold her back. We’re going to figure what we have to do, how to make her life the best,” says Kendra’s mom.

There are have been many tough times in life, including numerous surgeries, which included recent open-heart surgery in Minneapolis. But when life puts up a barrier, Kendra knocks it down.

“With having this condition, I’ve had too many amazing people come into my life through the hospital, through my job."

“Rather than feeling poor me, it’s like she has said this is why I’m supposed to be I think that’s the same with all of us. So you just decide to accept it and make the most of your life,” Kendra’s mom says.

Gottsleben graduated from high school in Vermillion, then college at Augustana. For the past ten years, she’s worked in marketing and communication at the Center for Disabilities at Sanford, where she’s helped others overcome the same challenges she’s faced.

“Helping them realize that we’re just like everybody else. And we have goals of having a job, owning our own house, getting married, having friends, being social. If I can help anyone, it doesn’t matter who it is have a better day then I feel like I’ve done my job,” Kendra says.

Kendra recently got the Governor’s Award for the outstanding individual with a disability.

“This award kind of helped me realize that I’m doing good things and helping those with disabilities by just being me."

And there’s a lot left to do for this 35-year old.

“My overall goal in life is to create more or better awareness for living life to the fullest despite whatever obstacle you have that day, that year, in your life in general."

“She’s an example to a lot of people. That there are many people that have said, I look at what she’s done and I think I’ve got tough things in life. I need to look at Kendra and say if she can push through, I can push through,” says Kendra’s mom.

Which is why Kendra Gottsleben has inspired so many

Kendra has also written three books and been a keynote speaker at a number of events.

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