This page is devoted to reprints of articles and memorabilia surrounding the beginnings of Break Through Inc. In March of 2018 Break Through celebrates 40 years.
Edited article from "Lutheran Standard " November 6, 1979
Friend's concern turned Ben's life around
Born with cerebral palsy, Ben Anderson says he used to think of himself as a "frog" -But that was before he got "kissed".
Now the 26 year old founder of Break Through, a ministry to the disabled, sees himself as a "prince" in spite of his physical limitations.
In his case, the person who did the "kissing" of acceptance was a friend who laid this challenge on him.
"What are you going to do with your life?"
"You could help motivate people." he told Anderson. "You could talk to them about their (disabilities) and help people be more understanding of their disabilities by using yourself as an example".
Anderson said he thought about that for almost a year and finally said to himself,--
"Yes, I can do that. I'm done feeling sorry for myself."
At that moment, he said , the concept of Break Through, -seeking to build a new awareness of and sensitivity toward the persons with disabilities had its birth. In speaking to church groups, school assemblies, workshops, youth retreats, and other forums, Anderson finds that people readily relate to the fairy-tale image of the frog being kissed and becoming a prince.
"We all have some limitation--shyness, a weight problem, looks, intelligence, whatever----that keeps us from being the kind of people we would like to be." Anderson went on. "In my case, cerebral palsy keeps me from driving a car.
When I speak rapidly, my words tend to run together and I'm hard to understand. And if you can read Greek," he jokes" you can read my handwriting… When I try to run, I do so without much grace or style."
Living with Limitations
But Anderson finds he can live with these limitations. We need, first of all, he said, " to quit regarding people who happen to have some limitation as disabled".
"Because of God's grace and love, we have been accepted into his family. He has broken through our weakness and loves us as his own. By God's grace, we too may accept others for who they are rather than for what they can do."
Anderson said it's important for a person to feel good about himself, or herself, because then people are more inclined to want to help.--"Warmth attracts warmth." he said.
A few weeks ago, the Sunday Gospel, Mark 7:31-37, dealt with Jesus' healing of the man who was deaf and had a speech impediment.
"When you study a text like that," said Anderson, "the temptation is to ask, 'Why was that man healed and I am not?'
But then you reconsider and tell yourself, 'Maybe I'm not being healed in the precise way I wanted to be, but in the way Jesus wants. I'm overcoming. I'm being spiritually healed.'".
The Break Through program……is a low-budget operation relying on contributions from congregations and individuals. Recently, the program received a $2000. grant from American Lutheran Church Women to be used for six workshops across the country… Anderson also has appeared at leadership workshops sponsored by the American Lutheran Church's Luther League. He feels the program is gaining momentum as word of the ministry spreads.
The fan mail is encouraging, too, for the former student at Lake Region Junior college, Devils Lake, N.D., and Golden Valley Lutheran College, Minneapolis.
A letter from the Joplin, MO., Cerebral Palsy Center thanked Anderson for talking with the Joplin Mother's Group and said, "Your positive attitude and sensitivity to the needs of the disabled and their families were inspiring and motivating for them."
Anne Carlsen Alum Helps
Adjust Attitude Problems
"Ben D. Anderson discovered at the age of 12 that he wasn't quite like every one else. Until then, the eight-year resident of the former Crippled Children's School felt "normal."
The year was 1965.Anderson, born with cerebral palsy, returned to his hometown of Kenmare, ND, at the age of 12 to live with his family for the first time since the age of four.
"I began to realize I was different," he said, because of the way he was treated by others. He never felt that way at the school, he said, because "everyone else was different."
"I began to ask myself, 'Why?'" he said. "Why am I different from the rest of my peers?"
It is the attitude he encountered as a youth that he is trying to change in others now. He is the founder, director and chief trainer of Break Through, Inc., a non-profit organization established in 1978.
"I believe that people need to be treated and respected for how they are," he said.
Break Through tries to create awareness and sensitivity towards disabled persons, in part by offering sensitivity training to corporations, churches and other groups.
Anderson may have questioned himself, but it didn't stop him from pursuing his goals. He graduated from Minot High School, Minot, ND, in 1972, attended Lake Region Junior College in Devils Lake, ND, and Golden Valley Lutheran College, Golden Valley, Minnesota. In 1992, he earned a B.S. degree in vocational rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin Stout, Menomonie.
He spends his days for Break Through traveling nationwide speaking to groups on vocational rehabilitation issues. He co wrote the book "Breaking Through" with Rev. Dick Beckman in 1981, which relates to issues of disabilities through his own experience with cerebral palsy."
Condensed from The Jamestown Sun -- Kathy Wicks
(Ben's present Break Through address is in Rapid City, SD )
email -firstname.lastname@example.org-- phone- (715) 554-1179