A childhood survivor of polio, Ralph Pieplenbos was able to walk through his teen and adult years with the help of operations, braces and crutches.
But, in his mid-40s, a secondary condition struck the Monrovia resident.
"Just in last 20 years, because some polio survivors are living longer, they diagnose us with post-polio syndrome," Pieplenbos said. "All the muscles that were working got overworked, they're deteriorating ... That's why I'm in a wheelchair today - because I just can't stand anymore."

But soon after finding himself in a wheelchair, Pieplenbos discovered competitive racing. Hand-cycling as part of a relay team led to solo marathons and triathlons.
The athlete says he is now resolutely addicted.
At 57, he has just completed his 50th full "para-triathlon" (in which he races in a wheelchair, hand-cycles and swims). Soon, Pieplenbos will start the Herculean task of preparing for the Ironman triathlon.
"I think I'm in better shape than I've ever been. My whole outlook on health and fitness has totally changed," said Pieplenbos, who says he tries to get in "one, at least maybe two (events) a month," and trains every day at the gym, the Rose Bowl or the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale. Read more http://www.whittierdailynews.com/rss/ci_16128755?source=rss