As the Olympics come to a close, I believe we have all been struck by the “overcoming the odds” or “overcoming great adversity” stories.

I did some research and found: 10 inspiring stories from Olympians who overcame adversity for Rio 2016. I also found: Why We Love Watching the Olympics-How stories of redemption give us hope. I love and am inspired by this quote near the end:

This is the power of stories: When we think we cannot go on, when it is just too hard and no one really understands, we hear these stories, and we gain strength. These stories inspire us and give us hope

Runner Obstacle Pablo

I suppose all of us can say we somehow overcame some odds to become successful. But, for most of us who would say that, we should ask who are we kidding.

I grew up in a middle class family that supported me and encouraged me all the way. My father, mother and aunt all saved money to help put me through school. My grandmother allowed me to live with her during law school.

I know for sure that without their support, I would have never made it. I can say that for sure because, I almost didn’t make it even with their support.

As many of you know, I have been working on a novel for the last two years, actually 30 months. I am up to version 9 and in this version my protagonist is an attractive, young, Mexican American lawyer who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and must overcome the odds thrown her way by the legal and business community in Dallas.

In my earlier versions, Gina complains about not having a mentor or role model to help her or to emulate.

Imagine my surprise, when I recently had lunch with trial lawyer Brady Sparks who told me all about Longtime Dallas lawyer, civil rights activist Adelfa Callejo who died in 2014 at 90.

When I read the obituary in the link, I wondered if I had been asleep at the switch for not knowing of her during the 18 years I practiced law here while she was alive. I guess I was off in my own little legal world and not paying attention to what was going on around me.

Wow, talk about someone who overcame the odds. Adelfa Callejo’s story will inspire anyone. Read the story. Here are just a few highlights and here is a YouTube video.

She was born June 10, 1923, in Millett, a small town of segregated schools and cemeteries north of Laredo in La Salle County, the daughter of immigrant farm workers. In 1939, the Botellos moved to Dallas. Callejo eventually became a bilingual secretary by day and an SMU student by night.

In 1961, at age 37, Callejo became the first Hispanic woman to graduate from law school at Southern Methodist University. Like Justice O’Connor, when she graduated she could only get a job as a legal secretary.

Vallejo became a multi-millionaire over time and gave $1 million to the SMU law school.  She was proud of her money and more than once told friends: “El dinero no habla. El dinero grita.” (“Money doesn’t talk. Money screams.”)

What an incredible story. I am surprised Hollywood has not made of full length feature movie of her life.

Want a little more feel good? Take a look at 16 Wildly Successful People Who Overcame Huge Obstacles To Get There.

P.S. Now that I know there is a great role model out their for my character, how can I use it in my novel? Share your thoughts with me.