Ben Trockman was injured in a motocross accident in 2006. Since his injury, Ben graduated from high school, earned a degree in Communications from University of Southern Indiana, and petitioned state and federal legislation for more accessible air travel, collecting over 15,000 signatures.
It is no easy task when people in wheelchairs plan a trip involving an airline. Wheelchairs are equipped with special seating cushions specifically designed to prevent skin breakdowns. These cushions cannot be brought onto the plane, as the chair is disassembled in order to fit in the bottom of the aircraft. In many instances they are damaged, or much worse. As Ben said, “These chairs are our legs, it is vital that we stay with them.”
CPN met Ben at the 2015 Indianapolis Day at the Races, where he was the recipient of the Ralph Braun Spirit of Ability Award. The Award celebrates the legacy of Ralph Braun, founder of BraunAbility, by honoring someone who makes a difference in the lives of people with physical disabilities. The winner of the Award is able to direct a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. When asked why he chose CPN, Ben said, “When you see and hear from good people doing great things, it’s natural to want to give back to those organizations. CPN was an obvious choice for me. With the involvement of Sam Schmidt, who has a spinal cord injury similar to mine, this foundation intends to change the lives of people living with paralysis through the CPN Challenge Program. If this contribution helps someone in a similar situation to mine, this is an absolute win in my book!”
Ben’s commitment to disability activism lead him to a career at Old National Bank as the Community Outreach and Employment Specialist, where he’s challenging businesses and organizations about the realities of biases of not hiring the disabled—whether paralyzed, blind, or deaf. Ben has helped create programs like professional mentoring, interview training, and relationship building to help engage disabled and able bodied in a conversation about disability in the workplace.