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Happy Birthday, Ben!

When most kids are taking their first steps and learning their first words at the age of one, Ben was being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a form of muscular dystrophy.  SMA, often called ALS in babies, is a genetic motor neuron disease with no known cure.  SMA causes the nerve cells connecting the brain and spinal cord to the body’s muscles to break down over time. Given only six years to live, the Seals were honored to help Ben celebrate his 15th birthday.

As an early birthday surprise, newly announced General Manager and Head Coach Patrick Merrill knocked on Ben’s door to kick off the festivities. As the door opened, Ben smiled ear-to-ear as he made his way out to meet Patrick.

It didn’t take long to for Patrick to realize just how special Ben is. With his love for math and science, Ben is ranked in the top 1% in the country. He’s traveled to Beijing, where he competed at the World Math Team Championship and won the only gold medal awarded to the USA Junior Team.

Not only is he unbelievably smart, but his loving and determined nature radiates through every smile.

“I have always maintained a positive attitude,” said Ben. “It grounds me. Inspires me. Motivates me. And it empowers me to face the big challenges, and the small, no matter how daunting they may seem.”

Overcoming so much early in his life, Ben and his family continue to become stronger each and every day. Though the grind may sometimes be tough, Ben uses his resources to actively rise above his problems, seek solutions, and keep growing stronger and smarter, always with a smile on his face.

“Meeting Ben was the highlight of my trip,” said Patrick. “He is so inspiring, and I am honored to have met him.”

Quoting his theme song, Ben lives by the words, “Shoot me down, but I won’t fall, I am Titanium!”  That’s Ben.  He is Titanium!

Follow Ben and the Muscular Dystrophy Association on Instagram at @team.ben_ and @mda_usa!