High school graduate Benj doesn’t claim to be Santa Claus, but as we approach Christmas he has a special gift for the next generation of children who are blind or have low vision.
Earlier this year we showed you how RIDBC has supported Benj from his first day of school to his last. Now, six months on we’ve got the inside scoop on the next chapter of Benj’s life.
Benj pays it forward
Benj’s time at school was filled with accolades and achievements. He is now the recipient of the 2020 ADF Long Tan Youth Leadership and Teamwork Award for the Covenant Christian School.
The award recognises ‘students who demonstrate leadership and teamwork within both the school and the broader community and who display strong values, such as doing one’s best, respect for others and “mateship”, that are integral to Australian society.’
Benj’s mum Danielle says of the prestigious award, “It’s a great honour for Benj to receive this award and he’s very deserving.
But, along with the award, Benj received a prize – $550. And instead of putting it towards his future Benj wants to make the future of others just that little bit brighter. So, he’s donating it to RIDBC.
“The donation recognises the 13 years of support I received from the School Support Service, and the fantastic people at RIDBC. I can’t thank my teachers enough.” Benj said.
An opportunity to say ‘thank you’
Benj’s grandmother Robyn is a member of the Warringah Lantern Club, and advocate for RIDBC’s support of people with hearing or vision loss.
To acknowledge RIDBC’s support for Benj, and his generous donation, a small COVID-safe event was held to mark the occasion. It was Benj’s way of thanking RIDBC, and the Warringah Lantern Club for years of support.
For Danielle it represented a “full-circle moment.”
“This was about showing the Lantern Clubs the difference that they make by supporting RIDBC.” Benj said.
Lantern Clubs have raised over $18 million for RIDBC since commencing in 1963. Across NSW, there are currently 10 clubs in operation today consisting of nearly 200 members.
Stepping into the future
Come February, Benj will be a university student having been accepted into Macquarie University’s Leaders and Achievers program. He’ll study a Bachelor of Arts majoring in either Politics or International Relations, something he’s yet to decide.
But, after a long and difficult year Benj can be forgiven for having his mind elsewhere, as he prepares for a week away with his mates to celebrate the end of school.
And when he’s done celebrating, he’ll return, the world at his feet, and ready to make his mark.