By Joel Hillan


LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – In August of 2018 a Colorado man went on a camping trip that would change his life. The Lakewood High School graduate has always lived a life of adventure.

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“I’m a very energetic kind of guy. Very extroverted. You give me a crowd of people and then I’m the life of the party and everything,” said Ben, a 23-year-old man. “I grew up doing the Boy Scout program so we would always go backpacking, or archery shooting or a host of other fun stuff.”

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Last August, Ben went camping with some friends at Devil’s Head, near the town of Deckers. He was sitting in a tent, leaning up against a cot when a tree broke loose falling on him.

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“An 80 foot (tall) Aspen tree fell and fractured my T8 and L1 resulting in two complete injuries meaning full loss of feeling and function.”

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Ben was taken to Saint Anthony’s Hospital. Several days later, when he finally woke up, his dad told him what happened.

“It was just kind of that thing of like, ‘Well that’s sucks. What’s this going to be like now?’ A bit of unbelief like, man, ‘This has to happen?'”

It took two months at Craig Hospital to heal and prepare for his new life in a wheelchair.

“There’s so many opportunities that come with this and so many things I have accomplished, and one of the best practices is practicing what I’m grateful for and that really makes a difference.”

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For Ben, the best adventures are yet to come.

“You say ‘Yes’ to things. There’s a lot more things to say yes to than there are to say no to. Sometimes it takes a trial for that door to finally open.”

He says he hopes that will include a life full of travel and maybe competition.

“A friend of mine who wants to train for the Olympics said that she wants to take me with her, so, I have to find a sport and train for the Paralympics.”

LINK: Ben’s Recovery Fund

Joel Hillan

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