Mel during her GORUCK 9/11 Light Challenge

Leslie Denton

Thorndike, Maine

Event: Spartan Hurricane Heat Rutland, MA

Date: June 17, 2017

"I am so passionate about building people up. The more they see what they are capable of, the better contribution they will make to society!"

Leslie's "Why"

I live in a low-income area of Waldo County, Maine. Most people living in this area are struggling to make ends meet. Many parents are working two jobs or have odd hours and can not always be there when their kids get home from school. In some cases, children are being raised by grandparents or other family members. I live in an area where there's not a lot to do and inspiration is hard to find. I want to help students that come through my classroom, realize that they can rise above their circumstances! In my classroom, I put daily quotes on the board about metal grit, change, rising above circumstances, etc. When I began Spartan Racing these kids all started looking up to me. I shared pictures, stories and videos from my GoPro. They were amazed. They have followed my journey, awed over my medals and especially my Trifecta! I signed 5 of them up for a Spartan kids' race. We traveled to MA, where they worked together over obstacles and crossed the finish line together.  

I can not describe the self-esteem boost this gave them! It spread through the school. My entire class and other students in the school would LOVE to try a Spartan. The point is, they are realizing, through me, that they can do anything they want if they put their mind to it. I am so passionate about building people up. The more they see what they are capable of, the better contribution they will make to society!

I will continue to bring this experience into my classroom, to preach to my students and friends about believing in themselves no matter what their circumstances! My life goal is to change lives for the better. It's why I became a teacher. I think when people are passionate about something, it becomes contagious! Especially when working with impressionable children. I have the opportunity to influence and help change lives! Along with my students, some of my friends think I do "the impossible," which I find funny, but I know I'm inspiring them, so it's all good! I get my "why" through racing. My students and friends can get their "why" too, in whatever they put their mind to!

It Takes a Village

I began running at 40 after having a baby. My brother, who was 22, a prison guard and my all time hero, died in a car accident on his way to work. He was an avid runner, and a very good one! He could run a mile in under 5 minutes. He used to try to get me to run "long distance" during my high school track days. I always said, "no." I was a hurdler and didn't think I could handle 2 miles. I thought I'd give this a shot, "for him." And it would be a great way to lose the baby weight. 

Once I started running, I became addicted and did my first half marathon during my first year of running! At another race, there was music playing and his song came on right when I approached the start line. It was an older song, he's been gone over 20 years. I feel like I get signs from him a lot around racing. In the first two years of running I have completed two trifectas in Spartan Racing, including Killington and the World Championships in Tahoe which were both 14+ mile races. If it wasn't for my brother, I never would have started running. Completing these races, some of them grueling, has given me a whole new outlook on life. I brought this excitement into my classroom and never expected the reaction I got from my students. This is how I inspire. Through racing, I feel like I can change lives, because of the mental strength and positivity it has brought into my life. I'm not sure a lot of people really "get it"....why I race. But my kids do and my students do. The belief they've gained in themselves inspires me to keep going.

#liveforaliving in motion

If money wasn't an object, what would I change?

If money wasn't an object I would want to travel the world, visiting poverty stricken areas and low income school districts, to speak to kids about physical and mental health. I would work with them on having a growth mindset and working to become whatever they dream of being. Having a positive attitude and mental strength are the most important qualities in being successful in life. When we feel good in body and mind, we can achieve what seems to be, "the impossible." In my work, I see so many kids with enormous potential. I work everyday to build them up and show them what they are capable of. My hope is that I am making a difference. Of course, if money were no object, I would also enjoy my time traveling, going on adventures and seeing the world as well! I would free myself from the daily grind. I'd show my children all the unique cultures of the world, in person!

Want to get involved?

Do you know someone who embodies the Live for a Living spirit deserving of sponsorship? Maybe you would you like to offer your support? Learn more about #LLSP on the Live for a Living Sponsorship Program page, and get involved. You're only changing the world with us. That's all...