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Olympic gold medalist bravely starts over in bankruptcy

Starting over can be difficult to do. Sometimes, individuals are forced to start over after divorce or the death of a spouse. Sometimes, starting over means moving to a new state away from friends and family. And sometimes, starting over means filing for bankruptcy – discharging your debts and beginning to rebuild your finances.

While starting over can be difficult, it can also be inspirational. A recent news article told the story of a former Olympic gold medalist whose recent bankruptcy is one of many trials that he has faced in life, including at least two brushes with death.

Rulon Gardner’s past reads like the plot of an action and adventure novel. In the 2000 Olympic games, Gardner won a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling. He also competed in the 2004 Olympics, where he won a bronze medal. His Olympic wins and generally successful athletic career brought modest fame and a small fortune in memorabilia.

In 2002, Gardner nearly died after getting stranded overnight in the freezing Wyoming wilderness during a snowmobiling trip. He suffered frostbite and lost a toe because of it.

Five years after that harrowing incident, Gardner and two other men survived a plane crash into a lake. It took them about an hour to swim to the shore in water that was just 44 degrees. They were not rescued until the next day.

A few years after that, Gardner got the opportunity to compete on “The Biggest Loser.” He was able to drop 200 pounds.

Now 43 years old, Rulon Gardner is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings. As a means of paying off debt, Gardner’s sports memorabilia (his own and some given to him by other athletes) will be auctioned off. He says that the bankruptcy has been difficult, but that he has grown as a result of the experience.

Gardner added: “Before the Olympics in 2000, I didn’t have any stuff. Some of that stuff is really cool to have, but, at the end of the day, I have a great wife, and I have a chance to start my life over.” He also has a new career as a sales representative for medical device manufacturers.

Starting over in bankruptcy is often very difficult, both practically and emotionally. But it is important to remember that bankruptcy is not the end. It is a new beginning and the chance for a brighter financial future.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “Olympian Rulon Gardner auctions personal items to pay off bankruptcy debt,” Brady McCombs, Oct. 23, 2014

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