May 11, 2012

Our Stories – 52 Stories in 52 Weeks – Our twelfth story Ben Phillips

Ben was born legally blind with only very limited vision as a child. Over time, Ben's sight deteriorated further to where he now has only extremely limited light perception. As an 11-year-old, he was introduced to blind cricket. He has been able to overcome his adversity by playing blind cricket for Australia but also saved a young boy's life when that boy was being attacked, and has gone on to complete a diploma in child care.

Ben has also completed two Melbourne Oxfam Trailwalks. Anyone who has ever walked a bush trail can appreciate how much Ben's involvement in the event requires extra concentration — not to mention courage.

In Ben's own words after crossing the finish line at Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 2011: "I've been overwhelmed with emotion this afternoon, just crying my guts out with joy. I can't tell you how liberating it is after having experienced years of bullying and discrimination for being blind … then to go and conquer something most people will never do, and to wear a bright vest that says "I'm blind" for 100km for all to see. It became something positive, I feel valued and special and I no longer need to hide [being blind]."

Last year, Ben became only the fourth legally blind participant to finish Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne, and this year he was able to achieve the fastest ever time by a blind participant in the event's history by finishing the walk in 28hrs and 59 minutes. Having completed his first Oxfam Trailwalker event in 36 hours with the Tigers in 2011, Ben was able to achieve his Oxfam world-record with the help of his team members Senator John Faulkner (10th walk), Max Bryant (5th walk), and newbie Daniel White on the Melbourne trail. Ben's trusty team mates provided him with all the necessary directions to assist him with where to place his feet and to warn of the many obstacles that the bush trail may present.

The Tigers are one of the extraordinary teams who have completed their fifth straight Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne event and tenth consecutive Oxfam Trailwalker event (including five Sydney events). Last year the team raised a total of $41,806 across the Sydney and Melbourne events, and have raised more than $250,000 in total for Oxfam Australia since their first walk!


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