It is May in Indianapolis, which means thousands of people from all over the world are in town to watch IndyCar drivers race their way around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 200+ MPH. On May 15, staff from Easter Seals Crossroads went to the track to experience an achievement of another kind.
In June 2014 I had the pleasure of meeting Ben Trockman in Washington, D.C. He and other Easter Seals representatives from all over the United States came together to lobby on Capitol Hill for critical funding to support people with disabilities. You can read about our trip and see the photos here.
Ben Trockman was a local Adult Representative for Easter Seals Southwest Indiana in 2010. After a motocross accident in 2006 left Ben paralyzed from the neck down, he met with therapists and assistive technology professionals through Easter Seals who helped make his home accessible and created ways for him to use a motorized wheelchair with a "sip-and-puff" system.
Since 2006, Ben has graduated from the University of Southern Indiana and is currently employed at Old National Bank in Evansville where he has the mission of helping the company become a leader in disability employment. Ben has become an advocate not just for Easter Seals in Indiana but for all of the affiliates throughout the United States. When he isn't working at Old National Bank, Ben writes for his personal blog where he keeps people up to date on his advocacy efforts. Accessible airlines and transportation is important to Ben. He and his family have driven 12 hours across the Midwest to met with industry representatives in Washington, D.C. in hopes of helping people understand why accessible transportation is so important.
Last Friday I listened to Ben receive the Ralph Braun Foundation Spirit of Ability Award presented by Sam Schmidt, a former Indy Racing driver who was rendered a quadriplegic after an accident in 2000 at the Walt Disney World Speedway. Sam chose to stay in the racing world by creating Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, which has become the most successful team in the history of the Indy Lights series, and also build the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation.
Sam presented Ben with this award for many reasons. You can listen to the presentation with captions here.
We look forward to seeing all of the progress Ben makes towards employment for people with disabilities in Indiana and accessible airplanes! Many thanks to BraunAbility, the Ralph Braun Foundation and Superior Van and Mobility for creating this opportunity.