Ben Iammartino

First post: Jun 7, 2021 Latest post: Nov 28, 2023

(Updated July 5, 2023) 

Hey friends, family, and visitors!

HISTORY:  On Saturday June 5th after a fun afternoon at the baseball game, Ben was at Klode Beach in Whitefish Bay, WI (Lake Michigan) with a couple of friends and dove off an outcropping of rocks (a favorite spot for kids/adults to jump and dive off) - Ben did the same dive many times over the previous year, but unfortunately the water level was low and Ben hit his head at the bottom of the lake. As a result, Ben sustained a C5 fracture and incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI). Ben was rushed to Children's Wisconsin where he underwent a spinal fusion surgery Sunday June 6 to remove the fractured bone and place hardware to help his spine fuse; he is paralyzed from the chest down (quadriplegic). After spending almost two weeks at Children's Wisconsin (Milwaukee) in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, he spent 8+ weeks at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) in Chicago in intensive inpatient rehab (PT/OT, etc.) to try and regain as much functionality as possible. Ben returned to his (new) home and is continuing with day rehab 2-3x/week.

INDEPENDENCE UPDATE:  This is the start of a new (exciting and maybe somewhat terrifying) chapter for Ben in his journey to gain independence and learn how to live in the new world. 

For those of you who are new to Ben's story, he's been defying expectations and pushing limits even while struggling with certain aspects of daily life since a diving accident in Lake Michigan in June 2021 left him with a shattered C5 vertebra and resulting quadriplegia. He was just about to turn 16 at the time of the accident and he's missed out on a lot of "normal" teenage activities like learning to drive or any sort of normal high school experience but he hasn't let that stop him.
Now at almost 18 Ben has been living with this injury for 2 years, which seems like a lifetime yet is really only a drop in the bucket when compared to the full life he has ahead of himself. A HUGE and NECESSARY part of that life is Ben really taking full ownership of his body, his strengths, and also his limitations to determine what HE needs to live a full and happy life. 
As part of this journey, Ben has now been accepted into an amazing program in TX this coming September-November.  The program, aptly called ReDefine, will allo Ben to focus on his independence and build a community of support as he prepares to attend college in fall of 2024.  We are asking for your help to get him to this program (see details in Steve's update from July 4) so he can be as successful as possible.
Here's what Ben has said about this opportunity and a quote he included that sums things up nicely:
This program lets me be truly on my own for the first tie in 2 years.  Fr me that is the best part.  I will be challenged with something really hard.  That being said, I want to be challenged.  We can live our lives on autopilot or we can grow.  I have goals for myself that seem impossible sometimes.  My all-time goal is to be the best person I can be.  It's a goal I always have with me on my long journey.  It's the hardest thing to do but this program lets me work on it.
"There will always be obstacles and challenges that stand in your way.  Building mental strength will help0 you develop resilience to those potential hazards so you can continue on your journey to success."     [Amy Morin]

We will continue using this site to keep everyone updated on Ben's progress.  We appreciate your words of kindness and encouragement. If you'd like to donate you can do so via his GoFundMe page: and all funds will be used for Ben's ongoing home and medical needs (manual wheelchair, FES Cycle, ramps, new vehicle to accommodate his wheelchairs, bathroom with roll-in shower, etc.). Thanks to EACH and EVERY one of you for your ongoing support!

Note: CaringBridge "Tributes" go directly to CaringBridge and not to Ben or his family.