Gottsleben has a rare disease called Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) Type VI. This disorder causes various skeletal abnormalities, including short stature and joint deformities that affect mobility. As a third and fourth grader, Gottsleben and a group of friends helped one another overcome their fears of failure to perform at dance recitals.

“In my book, I want to show the obstacles I faced while dancing with MPS,” said Gottsleben. “Even though I had MPS, I still did activities that I liked to do.”

When Gottsleben was a child, she noticed there were not many books that represented her life or others living with disabilities. Her goal in writing her books is to show what it is like to live with a rare disease.

“After ‘Kendra’s Lemonade,’ I saw that kids are hungry for these types of books, even if they don’t have a disability or health condition,” Gottsleben said. “The overall message I hope readers take away from the book is that there is no right or wrong way to be themselves and expressing oneself isn’t about perfection. It’s more being proud of yourself.”

To celebrate the release of the book, Gottsleben will host a book signing at the Wegner Health Sciences Library on Dec. 12 from 4-7 p.m.

A Vermillion, South Dakota, native, Gottsleben earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Augustana College (now Augustana University). Gottsleben has been featured as an inspirational speaker at TEDxSiouxFalls, has mentored local South Dakota young adults with disabilities, and is involved in several local, state and national board/committees. She has been at the Center for Disabilities since 2010. 

"Kendra's Perfect Dance" is available in paperback and hard cover and can be ordered online through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. 

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