From Abandoned Baby to Ironman Competitor: An Adoption Success Story

Minda Dentler was just an infant when she contracted polio, became paralyzed from the waist down, and was left at an orphanage.

Ashley Foster October 09, 2017
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Minda Dentler is a 39-year-old mom from New York. She works as an insurance executive and motivational speaker. She was the 1st female wheelchair athlete to complete the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. She is currently training to meet her next goal. Dentler aims to beat the 13:07 Ironman record. She has completed 30 triathlons, including 4 Ironmans.

When Minda was just an infant she contracted polio. She became paralyzed from the waist down and was abandoned at an orphanage in Mumbai, India. At 3½ years old, she was adopted by a family from Spokane, Washington. They were told she wouldn’t live to see her 18th birthday. Her adoptive parents wouldn’t accept that. The couple had surgery performed on her hips, legs, and back to straighten out her body. Those surgeries improved her mobility. She uses the support of a wheelchair daily.

Dentler remembers her younger days as being quite difficult. She felt as though she didn’t fit in with the other kids because of her disability and skin color. She focused on academics and thrived in the business club and on the debate team. Her hard work paid off, and she received an undergraduate degree at the University of Washington and a MBA at Baruch College in New York City.

At age 28 she was introduced to a disabled sports organization called Achilles International. Dentler learned to hand cycle and completed her 1st marathon in 2006. In 2008 she completed her first triathlon in NYC. “What I remember most was getting unexpectedly stung by a jellyfish swimming in the Hudson River,” she said. “It took me almost 4 hours and 30 minutes to finish the Olympic distance triathlon, but I was so proud of myself for finishing it.”

She completed her 1st Ironman in 2012. Dentler now serves as an ambassador for the Ironman Women for Tri Program, recruiting other female triathletes.

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Ashley Foster

Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and mother of two currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees' rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life. You can read her blog at

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