My name is Ben Fanelli. When I was 16 years old I woke up in the hospital and was told I was lucky to be alive, I'll never play sports again and may be a different person than I was before my injury. My brain was bleeding in 3 different places.

Growing up I was known amongst my peers as one that had a chance to play in the NHL one day.

When I woke up in the hospital, I was told sports were out of the question for the rest of my life, I would need a teaching assistant if I returned to school, and that my brain was bleeding in three different places.

I spent two years doing any and everything I could to recover from my head injury, with a 1% chance that I could ever play sports again. 

Two years later after a ton of life lessons, a lot of ups and downs and amazing support form people across Canada, I was able to return to the Ontario Hockey League to pursue my journey to the NHL. I started attending university, I also started a program to help other athletes dealing with brain injury called the EMPWR Foundation.

I decided on my own accord, after three more seasons with the Kitchener Rangers, winning the humanitarian of the year award for the Canadian Hockey League, captaining the team my last year and attending training camp with the New York Rangers that I would move on from chasing my dream of playing in the NHL.

The turning point in every journey is the ability to accept where you are regardless of the situation. Only then can you put together the right plan to get to where you want to be.


Five Pillars of Heroic Minds

Accept the entire truth of your situation.

Define what could be if you lived up to your potential.

Decide to assume a positive mental attitude of resolve and perseverance.

Act as if you can influence your situation (you’ll find you can).

Give Back - take on the responsibility of being a hero for others.


Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”

- Viktor Frankl, Holocaust Survivor, Psychiatrist & Author of "Man’s Search for Meaning”