Ben Davis is a UC Davis employee whose research focuses on finding treatments for emphysema and other life-threatening pulmonary-related disorders.
But as he spends his workdays doing this research, he’s battling an illness of his own – an autoimmune neurological degenerative disorder that has left him wheelchair-bound and robbed him of his ability to speak.
I’ll pause here and mention that Ben is the older brother of one of my best friends, with whom I grew up in Winters. For this reason, I interviewed Ben and toured his workplace a few months back. I hadn't seen him for a few years, so I wasn't around to watch the disorder progress.
He began feeling symptoms in 2008. You can read his full story here.
I was at first saddened by the extent of his condition, but then immediately blown away and impressed by the way he and his family have tackled such a massive challenge head-on.
Ben communicates by using a special computer program. He also requires some physical assistance at home and at work.
And work is really what Ben's story is about.
If you talk to him (which you can do at Sudwerk on Saturday), he will likely make his job the thrust of the conversation. The work he does means a whole lot to him, and he wants to keep doing it.
The purpose of that job is to seek treatments for illnesses and hopefully save lives. Meanwhile, this mysterious disorder is progressively hindering his own. While the physical toll has been drastic, his mental capacity 100 percent intact.
I sat down with Ben’s boss, Kent Pinkerton, who told me Ben's work output is indecipherable from others in the department. If you looked at his work on paper, you’d have no idea he was battling this disorder. Not only does he love doing the job; he’s getting it done.
But all of this comes at a cost, in part to treat the disorder and in part to provide aids to assist him physically while at work. This leads us to a kickoff event that's taking place on Saturday in Davis:
The purpose of the fundraiser, which will kick off at Sudwerk on Saturday from 4-6 p.m. is “to help raise up to $150,000 for his care so he can continue to do the work he loves," according to an article that recently ran in the Aggie.
"We will kick-off our crowdfunding campaign with an Hour of Honoring Ben and a time to begin creating more happiness for him and his family. With the jazz and Brazilian music of Jamie Knapp and Rick Palcovic, and the medlies of David Hafter, we will gather to begin electronically reaching out to all our contacts to create ever widening circles of caring. We will have a raffle, and enjoy each other's company and creativity as we launch the effort for Ben, through Youcaring.com, and Yolo Federal Credit Union."