By Bob Kann & Caroline Hoffman
Cindy Bentley: Spirit of a Champion celebrates the life of one of Wisconsin’s most inspirational leaders and activists. Born with an intellectual disability as the result of fetal alcohol syndrome, Cindy Bentley spent much of her childhood at the Southern Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled. No one expected her to learn the skills necessary to live on her own. To everyone’s surprise—including her own—she did that and much more.
With the encouragement of a teacher at Southern Center, Cindy realized she had a deep passion for sports—and the discipline to train and compete. She began participating in Special Olympics, and gained confidence as she worked with teammates to earn medals in tennis, track and field, and even snowshoeing.
Chosen as a Global Messenger for the Special Olympics International in 2000, Cindy has had dinner at the White House with two different American presidents, traveled around the world, and given speeches in front of thousands of people.
In these pages, young readers will learn what gives Cindy her champion spirit—and why she gave away five of her gold medals. Today, Cindy is still competing in Special Olympics. She also continues to advocate for people with disabilities, and helped to start People First, a Milwaukee organization that encourages those with disabilities to speak up for their rights.