Ben Zissman’s life was changed forever in 2010 when he was paralysed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. He was serving as a TA reservist with the Royal Engineers in Afghanistan when a 360lb bomb blew up the armoured vehicle he was traveling in.
The next thing he can remember is waking up in hospital six weeks later with his childhood sweetheart Ciara at his bedside. Five years later, defying the odds, Ben walked Ciara down the aisle aided by a frame and callipers. Ciara said, “I wanted the world to see how far Ben had come since the explosion that changed our lives forever. I was proud to have him stand by my side as we took our wedding vows.”
Help for Heroes have helped Ben to discover a number of adaptive sports that he can still enjoy, including climbing and water-skiing and he has also taken part in the Help for Heroes cycling event, Hero Ride three times, riding hundreds of miles through Europe using a handbike provided by the charity. Ben says: “Cycling on a handbike is an amazing workout and tremendous fun. I would definitely do another Help for Heroes event. There is always someone to talk to and people who have been in your situation or similar. They give you advice and a kick in the right direction if needed.”
Ben, who was in the middle of a primary school teacher training degree, of which he postponed to go to Afghanistan as a TA reservist, when he was wounded. He has taken on many school placements since injury and hopes to return back into a classroom.
He is one of over 10,000 individuals who have had grants from Help for Heroes. He has received over £11,000 of vital equipment paid for by Help for Heroes, including a £3,500 wheelchair. He says: “They have helped tremendously to allow me to still do things as ‘normally’ as possible. I am so grateful for all the help I have been given so far but I will need help for the rest of my life."