Benjamin James “Cole” Anderson
December 30, 2009 – July 31, 2020
Benjamin James “Cole” Anderson went to heaven on July 31, 2020. He lived a life full love and adventure, exceeding everyone’s wildest imaginations in his brief 10 ½ years on this earth. Ben was welcomed into the world on December 30, 2009 by his parents Matt and Katie Anderson and his brother Luke.
Prior to being diagnosed with a “horrible disease,” Ben attended Mountain View Montessori School. His favorite teacher was Kate and his best year was kindergarten. Ben played soccer and basketball, skied and rode bikes, camped and swam in mountain lakes. His best friends were Nate, Nalu, Nolan, and Zack.
On March 9, 2018, Ben was diagnosed with Cerebral-Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) and it was through his unfathomable struggle and personal suffering that Ben conquered life and transformed into the warrior “Cole.” His indominable spirit and intention to learn what is true directed his path.
Ben’s spirit of adventure, adept athleticism, and physicality animated the 29 months he lived with ALD. His dad coordinated every adventure with love, determination and a willingness to let Ben go “all out” every single day.
Essential to understanding Ben’s incredible nature is knowing that first, he lost his vision. Every feat he accomplished, he did so blind. Carry this with you as you read on.
Ben drove a moto across the Black Rock Playa. He paraglided and parasailed, tandem hang-glided off Slide Mountain and skydived from 18,000 feet. He surfed waves in So Cal, swung from ropes into Long Lake and skateboarded multiple stair steps at UNR. Ben hoverboarded around our neighborhood and easily completed over 100 front flips on the trampoline. He climbed the fire pole from the fort over 30 times in a row by himself and five times in a row with his 20 pound bobcat (dog) Spike on his back. Ben swam with dolphins in Florida and ziplined in Costa Rica. He tandem cycled with his dad and competed in a cyclecross race. Ben trained on the Skibiste and skied the face runs at Mount Rose in diverse conditions at least ten times in 2019. Together, Ben, Matt and Spike ran a 10k and a half marathon.
The Make A Wish foundation gifted Ben with a Kawasaki side-by-side which gave Ben and most of his friends access to the mountains surrounding Reno. There he pursued his new sport, shooting, which he did with the several firearms he acquired over time. He collected 50 buck knives from stores around Reno, his favorite being Mark Fore and Strike. He caught huge fish at Pyramid Lake. Ben was honored by the Reno PD and the City of Reno as Chief for the Day and spent an afternoon with the Washoe County Sherriff’s Department shooting and visiting the jail. He ate at the best restaurants in Reno. Ben, Matt and Spike flew in a private jet to pick up a Triumph motorcycle in Arizona. From there, they road tripped to Los Angeles to visit his beloved cousins. He road-tripped to LA one more time, thinking it would be his last but, as only Ben could do, made one more trip to the ocean to be with his family and to hear the waves. Ben spent an hour one-on-one with Vice President Joe Biden.
Ben was profoundly intuitive and developed deep friendships with a cohort of gifted adults who, at the perfect times, stepped into his life to share his burden and lift his spirits. Emily, Homze, Morgan, and JP ran him around town for juices, snacks, knives… whatever he wanted. Andrea engaged him in meaningful conversation and cheered him on at the trampoline. Joseph and Jenna stepped in to love him as his body began to deteriorate. Aaron introduced him to the Bad Man Club through which Ben was able to delve into many of the rights of passages boys experience as they grow up. Myles became his right hand man- spending endless hours loving him. He surprised Ben at the airport in Milwaukee and accompanied him to see his favorite teams play- the Bucks and the Packers.
Ben lived his life without regret and took risks in spite of an insidious disease that literally took him down. Every single day he decided to have a good attitude and to overcome the pain and loss and suffering he experienced every minute of every day.
Beyond Ben’s physical feats were the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual challenges he faced head-on with fierce determination, dignity, and integrity. He wrestled with God, the problem of pain and suffering, the reality of heaven, the concept of hell, and landed soundly on his own two feet knowing deeply that God is Love and that Jesus is God because in Him is the fullest expression of love that our planet has ever experienced. He fully believed that he would realize the scriptural truth that those who suffer the most are rewarded with the most joy and responsibility in the life to come. He understood that he would receive the highest blessings in heaven. Through this realization, and inspiration from his favorite book The Ghost of Spirit Bear, he transformed into the peaceful warrior “Cole” and became the teacher many of us need to see the way forward.
Ben is survived by a family that loves him dearly and a community, like no other, that has supported our family and made the last 29 months possible for Ben. He is a 6th generation Nevadan with strong midwestern roots and values. Benjamin James “Cole” Anderson will be terribly missed but will always provide a beacon of hope and inspiration to overcome hard things as we walk forward into our future.
In Lieu of flowers we are asking that donations be made to one of six of the following organizations:
1. The Van Haren Lab at Stanford University: http://med.stanford.edu/van-haren-lab.html
2. For the Kids Foundation: www.forkidsfoundation.org
3. Give Hope Northern Nevada: www.givehopenv.org
4. The Make A Wish Foundation of Northern Nevada: https://necannv.wish.org
5. Volunteers of Northern Nevada Reno: https://www.voa-ncnn.org
6. Helping Hands: https://stuerzlkendra.wixsite.com