Ben Fanelli, a defenseman for the Kitchener Rangers (OHL) was a victim of a very serious brain injury in October 2009. Since then Ben has recovered fully and is back playing hockey once again thanks to the resources and professionals that helped throughout his road to recovery as well as support from his family and friends. Ben has not forgotten the individuals that have helped along the road to his recovery and decided he wanted to give back by creating the foundation, “HeadStrong”. This is a foundation that provides awareness about brain injuries and raises funds for various brain injury associations. I was lucky enough to contact Fanelli, who is a very positive, polite and humorous individual, to find out more about the foundation and what it has to offer. The questions and answers are as followed.
1. Q. What made you want to start it in the first place?
I was blessed with not only my recovery but also, the resources and professionals that took care of me and helped make my recovery and my return to hockey possible. I wanted to do whatever I could to help give other people that as well and wanted to sustain head injuries and give people the ability to recover 100% as I did. I also look up to Lance Armstrong and idolize him for his comeback and success. I thought that Armstrong’s foundation “LiveStrong” was also a clever name, so I decided to incorporate that with “HeadStrong”.
2. Q. What is the main logic behind the foundation?
The main logic behind “HeadStrong” is spreading knowledge and seriousness about Head Injuries not only in hockey but also, in all walks of life. Secondly another big part of HeadStrong is raising money for the Brain Injury Association of Canada.
3. Q. Where can people donate/is there a website for it?
People can donate through the BIAC website, the HeadStrong Facebook Page or the HeadStrong twitter page, @BF4HeadStrong which always has updates as to what’s
going on and what’s new with HeadStrong.
4. Q. What are past events your program have been involved with?
HeadStrong’s kick off event was a triathlon I decided to take part in. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but it was a great experience. A HomeTown Hockey camp run by Jamie Israel for skill development and body contact in hockey and HeadStrong shirts were given to each player who participated. HeadStrong T-Shirts were created and sold out of the Kitchener Auditorium. There were many events that supporters of HeadStrong have created themselves as well. In fact, an 11 year old from Kitchener asked for donations to HeadStrong instead of birthday presents at his birthday party, just incredible. A Kitchener high school student ran a HeadStrong hockey tournament as well.
5. Q. Future events HeadStrong will be involved with.
There will be a new HeadStrong product for sale at the Kitchener Auditorium, taking the place of the T-Shirts. Next Summer I will take part in another “event” that will test my abilities. I am not sure exactly what it will be yet, but it will hopefully get the word out about HeadStrong even more.
This summer the 1st Ontario Hockey Media Golf Tournament will be held at the Oakridge Golf Club on June 12th. All of the proceeds of this tournament will be going to the HeadStrong Foundation for Brain Injury Awareness and The Brain Injury Association of Canada. The tournament will be taking place in Port Perry Ontario. I hope to see you there and am hoping supporters of HeadStrong will continue to take initiative to spread the word through school events, school projects etc.
Give Ben and his foundation a follow on twitter at @BF4HeadStrong and “like” the Facebook page as well. Support HeadStrong today!