Hey friends, family, and visitors!
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 currently paralyzed from the chest down with some movement in his arms but no movement with his hands/fingers. 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 3x/week.
Ben faces a long, tough journey to recovery with many unknowns but he is a strong, determined young man and we know he will fight hard to get through this! Ben has struggled with his own mental health (depression and anxiety) over the past couple of years and had recently started power lifting and working out, which he quickly fell in love with. Just before the accident, Ben had a personal best and dead-lifted 335lbs! We know he will be ready to put forth the effort to make as many strides as he can. And through all of this, Ben continues to be the kind, polite, and funny kid we all know and love, often lifting others spirits even while struggling himself. He will need to rely on his resilience as he navigates this new normal; he will continue to be #BeniamStrong! (Follow #Beniamstrong on Instagram for more updates, videos, etc.)
Amidst all these life changes we have moved in to a new ranch-style home that is more suitable for our family and Ben's needs. Even with the new home it will need adjustments to accommodate Ben's needs, including an updated bathroom with roll-in shower and possible updates are needed to the kitchen to make it easier for Ben to move around and access things. He loves to cook, grill, and spend time outside by the fire pit - all of which are goals to work towards in the coming months.
We will be 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: https://gofund.me/a574d0a9
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.