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Posted 2020-08-05T14:42:25Z

Benjamin James "Cole" Anderson

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 

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Comments (25)

  • Marci Pollock
    Marci Pollock

    What a beautiful eulogy! You are all living from a place of deep love in overcoming life’s unexpected obstacles. We are grateful to know your story as we can relate to some degree and live our lives in a similar fashion, as there is no time to waste! Blessings to you all❤️❤️ And bright blessings to Ben..’Cole’

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Deanna Gescheider
    Deanna Gescheider

    Katie, Your words manifest Ben’s true essence!!! As unlucky as he was on earth, he was the luckiest kid to have the love and support of his family & friends and the incredible showing from Reno. I am so proud of you. Your strength and positive disposition in spite of it all I hold dear to my heart. Thanks for wiping my tears with laughter so many times as you travelled down this path. Ben is undoubtably proud of your ways and we are all blessed to have you in our lives. Praying for peace for you and your family! Love, Deanna, Scott, Max and Marissa PS Pls post the “rules of a first date” someday?

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Beth Kelley
    Beth Kelley

    Thank you Katie for sharing... my tears are making it hard to type but it's the incredible spirit of love that is behind those tears. I send you all the love my heart can hold.

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Cindy Buchanan
    Cindy Buchanan

    Beautiful words. Ben was a warrior. He lived life to the fullest thanks to your family, friends and community. My heart breaks for you and I hope the many memories you made together will comfort you during this difficult time. May deepest and sincere condolences. Xoxo.

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Emily Reid
    Emily Reid

    Thank you for bringing your son into my life. You are the best mom. He is incredible and will forever be in my heart. I am so sad. I love him and I love you.

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Dalia Pena
    Dalia Pena

    Truly beautiful words. Through Ben we have all learned what it truly means to live. I am in sheer awe of the strength of all of you. thinking and praying for you and all of my love.

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Alissa Surges
    Alissa Surges

    What a beautiful eulogy, Katie. You captured him--and your family.

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Catherine Mannikko
    Catherine Mannikko

    Such a beautiful tribute to your Warrior. So many lessons for all of us to learn. What an impact he made and will continue to make. Thank you for sharing your journey with so many.

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Ellen Townsend
    Ellen Townsend

    Oh...Katie...🌹Love you.💕..he was truly an extraordinary young man...what an amazing son. Beautifully said.

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Kristy Pearson
    Kristy Pearson

    Beautiful tribute! Ben has touched my life like no other. Thank you Katie for sharing your story and his with us all. Sending love and peace to your family.

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Jackie Peacock
    Jackie Peacock

    Beyond incredible. Completely inspirational. Truly remarkable. Ben's spirit will continue to live within us all. Love, comfort, and peace to Ben and your entire family.

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Leah Chism
    Leah Chism

    Sending you so much love, Katie, Matt and Luke! Katie, your post is such a heartfelt, beautiful tribute to your incredible warrior. Thank you, Matt for creating and sharing many of your adventures with Ben. I don't even have words for you all right now, except to say that Ben was so fortunate to have you and Katie as his parents!

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Jill Drake
    Jill Drake

    We are so sad. What a beautifully written tribute to your precious son. Jill, Randy and Ryan Drake

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Cathy Walters
    Cathy Walters

    Dear Matt & Katie, Like so many of the other comments, I am in awe of your faith, your positivity, and your eloquence with words. My heart goes out to you in your loss, but I know you would do it all over again if given the choice, and are grateful to God for giving you such a special and amazing son for 10 1/2 years. Thank you so much for sharing his adventures with so many others, and inspiring us to never give up, to cherish each day and to love unconditionally. Ben was truly an awesome kid - his determination and courage were beyond belief. I know you have a huge hole in your hearts, which will last forever. But Ben and his angels will be watching over you. May God hold you in the palm of His hand and walk with you every step on this painful journey. Sending much love and many prayers from Los Alamos! Cathy Walters, Grandy's friend.

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Carolyn Lloyd
    Carolyn Lloyd

    This is a wonderful and heartfelt eulogy. My niece, A’Laina Ault, told me about Ben, your family and this site. Over the months I have read about Ben and your magnificent family. My deepest condolences to all of you and my prayers are with you. Thank you for sharing your grand and brave Ben with all of us. In His Almighty Love - Carolyn Lloyd

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Auntie Lainie Bush Barnhart
    Auntie Lainie Bush Barnhart

    Katie, you are amazing to pour your broken heart out with such clarity. Each one of you; Matt, You, Luke, Ben, Spike have made a lasting touch in all our hearts for the rest of our lives. We will not forget even when it grows so loudly quiet. I hope I can speak for all, "we are here." Hope to see & hold you all soon. Auntielaine

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Judi Koslen
    Judi Koslen

    Katie, What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing Ben's courageous life with all of us. Thru my L.A. family, I know how special and loved Ben was. --Judi Koslen (Lola & Anderson's Florida Grandma)

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Lorie Neeser
    Lorie Neeser

    Katie, your words are so eloquent and words written from Ben's heart and your family are so transparent. The community that has rallied around you all has been truly remarkable. Ben was able to live big and experienced so much that even a full life does not get to experience! My favorite part was when you said Ben "truly believed that he realized the scriptural truth that those who suffer the most are rewarded with the most joy and responsibility in life to come". That is very deep stuff for a little boy .. I am in in awe at is profound understanding. The Lord certainly did a good work in him in this beyond difficult time and I am certain your family as well. You are all warriors and we love you dearly. Thank you for sharing such intimate details. Your family has deeply imprinted my heart and challenged my spirit to persevere on this journey towards heaven. You are in our daily prayers and here for anything you need. All our love, Lorie and Michael Neeser-Saiz

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Kris Buttenberg
    Kris Buttenberg

    Ben also holds the Snow Biste ski simulator World Record of consecutive whirlybirds at 56! A feat that has not even been closely matched by anyone!

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Sandy Maskaly
    Sandy Maskaly

    What a beautiful testimony to the courageous spirit of Ben - and the whole family for that matter. So glad his spirit will reside in eternity with His Savior and loving Father. He left a large footprint on the hearts of many. Praying for the Lord's tender mercies to meet your every need as you navigate through this grief toward the healing of your broken hearts. We love you dearly, Sandy

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Dene Atcheson
    Dene Atcheson

    What an incredible portrayal of such a strong and inspirational young man. The bar was definitely set high with Ben. His example of living will give us all something to strive for everyday. My entire heart goes to you and your family. So much love- Dene' Jim, Cohen and Keaton

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Summer Paganetti Edwards
    Summer Paganetti Edwards

    Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. Ben has touched so many people with his grace, courage, and passion. A true warrior indeed! You are a remarkable family ❤️

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Trina olsen
    Trina olsen

    One of the most powerful things I have ever read. Thank you for sharing his incredible journey. ♥️

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Loretta Showalter
    Loretta Showalter

    Most incredible story ----actually non-understandable how anyone could go through such trials with a great attitude. It is a lesson for all to appreciate the small things in life as blessings. What a wonderful boy. Loretta Showalter

    2 years ago · Reply
  • Kelly
    Kelly

    Katie, thank you for sharing this eulogy and all the stories of Ben over the last 29 months. What a testimony to your faith and to his! Sending you so much love. I love, "He understood that he would receive the highest blessings in heaven." Beautiful and heart-breaking and so much grace.

    2 years ago · Reply