After 15 years of sharing his gifts of love and joy with us, Ben Wood-Lewis died at home surrounded by his adoring family. From the beginning, Ben drew amazing people to him with his sparkling eyes, unforgettable smile, resilience, work ethic, and empathy. He loved love, and his spirit lives on in the hearts of all who knew him and whose lives are forever enriched by his presence.
Ben reveled in adventure. Skiing, riding roller coasters, zooming on his wheelchair bike, swimming in the surf, ziplining, pulling pranks, and racing his siblings brought out his famous smile. He loved parasailing with his Papa, co-piloting his uncle’s helicopter, and spotting dolphins with his Mama. He enjoyed sledding, horses, pets, and baseball with his sister and brothers.
Ben looked forward to every day of school, most recently completing his freshman year at Burlington High School, where he performed in concerts and was a proud member of the Unified basketball team. Many of his classmates were either lifelong or new friends.
Ben’s work in his too-short life included inspiring the creation of FrontPorchForum.com; helping to improve Edmunds Middle School, Champlain Elementary School, and North Beach for accessibility; encouraging systemic change around family-centered care; spurring dozens of people to enter the helping professions; and generally opening minds wherever he rolled. Ben’s unique ability to inspire others extended his impact through the ongoing works of those whose lives he touched.
Ben’s family is forever grateful for the fierce, loving support of the many family, friends, community members, and professionals who helped us over the past 15 years, and especially through Ben’s recent health crisis.
Ben is survived by his parents, Valerie and Michael Wood-Lewis; his adored siblings, Madeline, Henry and Isaac; his grandmother, Tamra Lewis; his aunts and uncles, Stephanie and Larry Ihle, Debbie Hannan, Beth and Jim Lewis, Becky and David Lewis, Marcy and Stephen Lewis, and Susan Lewis and John McClendon; and dozens of dear cousins and extended family. Ben was predeceased by his Grammy, Joan Stettler; Grandpa Don Wood; and Grandpa, James Lewis, Jr. Ben is also survived by his loving birth mother and birth father and their families, and many helpers who became like family.
The Wood-Lewis family will host visiting hours for all on Thursday August 13, 4:00 to 7:00 PM, at their home in Burlington. A celebration of Ben’s life will be held Friday August 14, 2:00 PM, at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington with an outdoor reception to follow (no parking available).
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Ben’s name to Double H Ranch (donate: http://www.doublehranch.org). Additionally, the family invites friends to join Ben’s team in the 2015 Zoe’s Race, August 30 (register: http://zoesrace.com).
Ben’s infectious smile and love of life will continue to inspire all whose lives he touched.
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