Those who know Ben Bebenroth would describe him as a hard worker. He’s a former U.S. Marine turned chef, farmer and entrepreneur. But what people may not know is that he battles osteoarthritis and recently had knee replacement surgery to combat the severity of his pain and diminished quality of life.
“I was limping and aching constantly,” says Ben. “The pain is so draining that it makes you selfish. I had no concept of how this would change my life.”
Since Ben was a child, he’s loved anything involving the outdoors, from snowboarding and kayaking to mountain biking and rock climbing. When he was 15, Ben tore his anterior cruciate ligament, but didn’t know it. Though it healed, OA started to develop. Doctors diagnosed him with the disease when he had ACL reconstruction surgery more than 20 years ago.
Now 40, Ben works long, hard hours as owner and head chef of Spice Kitchen and Bar in Cleveland. He also runs Spice Catering Co. Four years ago, he, his wife and two children moved to a 13-acre conservancy farm nestled within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Brecksville, which they named Spice Acres. They raise livestock and grow produce for his restaurant and other customers.
Despite the challenges OA poses, Ben has a Champion of Yes attitude. “I power through,” he says. “I adjust my activities and keep it moving. I’m lucky to have learned methods of coping that I now practice.”
Ben’s encounter with OA has motivated him to support the Arthritis Foundation by donating goods and services to local fundraisers. He understands the needs of others who deal with the challenges of arthritis, which has no cure. “I’m grateful for this challenge,” he says. “It has taught me a great deal about myself and having compassion for people in pain.”