In tribute to Ben Breedlove
Courage, Hope and Dignity
Ben Breedlove has touched so many in his short life and it is with a heavy heart I write this because although I did not know Ben I too was deeply touched by his story which I saw on Youtube. How could you not be touched by it? Here is a handsome young man with seemingly so much ahead of him yet he knew he was dying and probably knew he did not have much time left. In watching his video I could not help but cry as I watched intently and saw his story revealed in the video on index cards. He does not speak but his video is so powerful and so touching. He reveals that he had cheated death several times and you really feel for him as he tells his story.
You see a young teenager who wants to be just like any other. He wished he could participate in sports and just do what his friends did. Sadly he could not because of his medical condition which affected his heart. He was diagnosed at a young age with Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and was limited in activities that could affect his heart. At the age of 4 he describes a near death experience resulting from a very serious seizure he had and he recalled being rushed on a stretcher down the hospital hallway with his mother running by his side with the medical staff to emergency and he remembers seeing a bright light that he asked his mother about but he realized only he had seen it. He also revealed feeling a tremendous peace as he saw the bright light and did not have any fear after that.
He explained after that hospital visit he managed to stay healthy for several years but would still encounter other similar experiences over the years and each time he would feel an incredible peace. You could see that Ben was a very special kid with a maturity years beyond his age and a wonderful disposition despite the fact that he knew he was dying. I was deeply touched by his courage and his message of hope he shared in his video. He probably did not realize how many people he would touch in his video but he knew he had a message to share with his family and in doing so he would also give them a sense of peace. What he did not know was that he would also touch so many more in the process. Once the videos hit Youtube and word got out that this young man had died on Christmas day and he had a powerful message it was certain he would have a profound impact on so many who have come to learn of his videos.
I felt inspired when I saw his video so much so that I too wanted to write a tribute in honor of his memory. I also was touched by videos of others who also felt inspired and wanted to praise Ben and share their stories. I was inspired and touched by their stories as well and their praise for Ben. I saw a few of the tribute videos and two that come to mind were of 2 girls each with different stories but similar feelings and similar messages. I felt for each of them and was grateful to see their stories also. One of the girls revealed how she was touched by Ben and his story and wanted to pay her respects for him and his family and tell her story in his honor and memory. She had been born with a disabilty at birth. She did not reveal this until the very end of the video. She also told her story as Ben did with index cards and no voice. I read her story and could not help but feel her sincerity and her courage. I felt for her also and I could not help but shed a tear for her and feel inspired by her courage. She certainly was touched by Ben's courage and wanted to acknowledge that in her video.
The other tribute video was of another girl who wanted to acknowledge Ben and reveal her story of suffering from chronic depression that robs her of life and joy. She was also very inspired by Ben's story and wanted to share her feelings and thoughts and also pay her respects for Ben and his family. I was also touched by Megan Heart who has a youtube page called Megan Heart's makeup where she shares fashion and makeup tips for girls and who has paid a special tribute to Ben because she knew him personally and was a close friend. In watching their videos and reading Ben's story you could see how much one person has affected so many in such a beautiful way to allow them to open up and tell their stories in a way that is remarkable and very heartfelt.
The sad part of this story is that Ben was only 18 years old when he died on Christmas day, 2011. He made these videos that have touched and inspired the world the week before. It truly is incredible the outpouring of love and sympathy for Ben and his family which is truly deserved and greatly appreciated. Ben will pass on a beautiful gift and message of hope. In watching his video I realize I had never been touched in such a way. Surely I have been touched by other videos with stories of courage and heartbreak but this video was unique in its presentation and in its sincerity. Another image I was touched by was Ben's pause at certain moments to give a beautiful smile. I saw that each of the girls did the same thing in their videos as they revealed their stories on index cards also.
I realize Ben's family is going through a very difficult time right now and my thoughts and prayers are with them as they try to cope with his loss. They will grieve him and should hold on to the special memories of him and his incredible message of hope. I truly believe that they too will be inspired and touched by his reassuring words of the peace he felt during his other near death experiences. I am so glad I learned of his video and I pray for his eternal peace and happiness. I also pray for his family to be strong and to hold on to his special memories and his incredible words of inspiration.
I pray for Ben to finally be at peace and I pray for his family to be strong and to be touched by their son's beautiful life and his way of touching so many others.
Edward D. Iannielli III