Published on Brock University (http://brocku.ca)
The following is the award citation for Ben Leber who received a 2011 graduate student Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock medal at Spring Convocation in June 2011.
Ben Leber has made a profound impact on the lives of people with disabilities, from his work in an exercise rehabilitation lab at Brock University to his contributions to the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games.
Ben is graduating with a master’s degree in Applied Health Sciences, having focused in his thesis work on research in the area of rehabilitation subsequent to spinal cord injuries.
Beyond his formal studies, however, Ben has devoted a great deal of time as a volunteer administering exercise programs to assist people who live with spinal cord injuries to lead healthy and active lives.
His supervisor, Dr. David Ditor, says the rehabilitation program, which offers much-needed support for this population in the Niagara region, could not have thrived as it did without Ben’s leadership and dedication. He offered participants motivation, support, encouragement and friendship to help them overcome the challenges they faced.
Ben’s work with this population extends across Canada. In March 2010, he travelled to Vancouver, at his own expense, to volunteer at the Paralympic Games for two weeks. It was an experience in which he witnessed first hand, in these outstanding athletes, the result of hard work and motivation.
Ben emphasizes that volunteerism is a two-way street, saying: “I was fortunate to receive inspiration from their stories and their continued determination not to let physical disability hold them back.”
Other examples of Ben’s generosity of spirit abound. Within his graduate program he has taken a great interest in mentoring the other graduate and undergraduate student volunteers in the lab. He has also enjoyed coaching little league baseball over the past two summers and teaching his young players the value of teamwork and the importance of staying active.
As a student, a volunteer and now as a professional fitness specialist, Ben is committed to the goal of promoting a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages and all abilities.
Please join me in congratulating Ben for being recognized with this very special honour.