Inspiring Others – II

Bibian Mentel had planned to go to law school but gave up her plans to focus on snowboarding.  Three years into her snowboarding career, she participated in her first world championship.  She was the Dutch Champion six times.  But at the championships six years into her career, things changed.

During a practice run at the championships, she injured her ankle.  She continued to ski, but her ankle was not healing.  An x-ray revealed that she had a bone tumor.  The tumor was removed and Bibian resumed training for the next Olympics.  Unfortunately, the tumor returned and presented a challenge to the spread of cancer.  Bibian decided to have her leg removed.

She continued to snowboard even though she couldn’t walk, even with crutches.  At the Dutch snowboarding championships, she entered one event and won it, competing against fully able snowboarders.

Realizing that her ability to compete against fully able snowboarders was ending, she started a campaign to have snowboarding as a Paralympic sport.  After eight years, she was successful.

The first time snowboarding qualified as a Paralympic sport, Bibian was the flag bearer for the Netherlands.  She won a gold medal.

Bibian’s health did not improve.  She had five surgeries and was diagnosed with cancer nine times.  One time, she was told her cancer was terminal, but she received a new form of treatment and survived.

She always believed in herself, but her sponsors did not.  Although she had brought gold medals to the Netherlands, the Dutch Olympic Committee withdrew their support.  She was only able to compete through crowdfunding.  She won two more gold medals after being told her cancer was terminal.

Bibian was an inspiration to all but especially those with physical impairments.  She created the Mentelity Foundation to support young people with physical impairments to compete in sports.

Bibian passed away at the age of 48 from brain cancer.  There are many ways that one can live a life.  Certainly, Bibian had every reason to live a life of remorse, but she continued a focus on her passion.  She could have been resentful, but she instead supported others.  She could have given up, but she continued on, winning a gold medal just three years before her death.  Bibian became an inspiration for all of us in how to confront our setbacks.

* * *

“Kut Kanker!  Cancer is Crap, a Story of an Amazing Woman.”  – The title that Richard Branson gave Bibian’s second book.

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.