Serious illness fails to derail determined teenage powerlifter

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by TED MADDEN

WFAA

Posted on April 10, 2013 at 5:10 PM

ANNA, Texas — Danielle Gonzales won state and national championships in powerlifting as a sophomore at Anna High School.

So when she won another state championship last month and another national championship last weekend, no one was surprised.

Not unless you know what happened to Danielle last May.

"Both kidneys failed," said her mom, Kimberly Lindsey. "She would stand up, and if you let go of her, she would fall over."

Danielle was hit with a series of maladies: Viral meningitis, cerebellitis, and encephalitis — three diseases that are all potentially deadly and left her a physical and mental wreck.

"She went to write her name, and she couldn't even get the 'D' out," said her mom. "She forgot how to write a 'D.' I went to give her a drink out of a straw, and she was choking on it; she forgot how to swallow."

"I became special," Danielle said. "People are born with special needs so they don't know what real life was. I just became 'special needs,' and I knew what I was missing, so I was like, 'I want to get back to that.'"

When we met Danielle a year ago for the first time, the story was, she went from never lifting to a national champion in the span of four months.

Then she got sick.

When she came back this year, she was basically starting from zero, all over again.

And in only a couple of months, she went from zero to state champion.

And she won by a mile.

To get an idea of how far ahead of her competition Danielle is, one of the girls at the state meet tried to dead lift 330 pounds and barely moved the bar.

Danielle followed and lifted 400, giving her 1,000 pounds total for the three events.

"One of her big goals was to try to get over 1,000 pounds," said Reed Eichenberger, Anna High School's powerlifting coach. "And based on the way she was lifting that day, we thought she had a pretty good chance to get 400, but I had no idea how easy she was going to make it look."

"Nine months ago, where we are today, I did not see her doing this again," said Danielle's mom. "But yeah, I'm happy. She's back."

And she'll be back again next year to try and win another state championship.

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