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Arts & Sciences Interviews Ben Hylden
On a cold April day a few years ago, Ben Hylden, currently a senior at UND, tried on his suit coat for his upcoming high school prom, then sped toward nearby Park River, N.D., for an appointment. Running late and driving too fast, he lost control of his car on ice, flipped the car and was thrown out the passenger door. He plunged face first into an icy farm field. At that point, his face and body were crushed, along with his dreams of being a basketball star.
Hylden, who will pursue a master's degree in counseling, started writing his inspirational book while he was a junior and has since been aided along the way by UND Assistant Professor of Communication Timothy Pasch.
Kelsi Smith talked to Hylden about his ordeal in a web exclusive for Arts & Sciences.
Kelsi: Tell me about your book and journey at UND
Ben: I started writing my book last year in the fall when a woman named Missy Ohe gave me the idea to do so after I was on her Christian radio show to share my story. At first, I gave her idea no serious thought, but I soon felt that it was what God wanted me to do, so I could give people faith and hope with my story. However, even though I had the passion to start writing, I still did not know anyone in the book industry, but I was introduced by Missy to a woman named Marybeth Lagerborg, who was an author and she then became my book manager. Thus, I began writing even since with Marybeth guiding me and helping with every step along the way.
My book is about my journey of faith and physical recovery, since my near death car accident on April 6, 2007 when I was given a 5 percent chance of survival. Before my accident, my passion and love was sports, but mostly basketball, however after my accident, there was a good chance that I would never play again due to my injuries. And even if I played again, it was supposed to be impossible for me to play during the year after my accident. Along with basketball, there were supposed to be many other limitations, but there was something inside me that never let me give up and gave me hope. However, in the end, I came back multiple times from injury to play and lived a normal life as a high school student, but decided to give up basketball during my senior year, so I would not sustain anymore injuries that could hurt me because I felt that God had something much bigger for me that was still unknown at the moment, but I now know what it was with how my life has changed. Throughout my journey, since my accident, many miracles and events shaped who I am today and brought my faith to a level that I never dreamed possible and taught me that anything is possible in life.
Kelsi: What made you want to write a book?
Ben: During last semester, I was in communication 103 where my teacher was Dr. Pasch and during class one day he was talking about how people now put their books on I-tunes, which gave me the idea that I could also put my book on there as well. Before that, I never knew about that possibility and it now gives me a bigger way to share my story and hopefully positively change lives along with it.
Kelsi: How did the liberal arts program help you with this project?
Ben: Coming into college, I planned on being a high school history teacher and high school basketball coach, but during my junior year; I had a change of heart and began pursuing a masters in counseling. My passion in life is inspiring and motivating people, so I felt counseling would be the perfect fit for me. However, after I started writing the book, I was given the idea to become a motivational speaker, but did not take the idea too seriously. I had been publicly speaking about my accident, since the summer of 2010, but I never thought that I could make a career out of it. While talking with Missy though, who is a professional speaker herself, I was given many connections to speaking opportunities. Since then, I have continued to speak publically about my accident and my book has opened up many other doors for me to speak on a larger scale, so I am now pursuing a career in motivational speaking. Overall though, my dream would be to coach college basketball and speak in my spare time.
Kelsi: Who was your UND Inspiration?
Ben: This may not be the most popular answer, but my true inspiration at UND is Jesus Christ. He may not go to college here, but He is as real to me as anyone. He has been with me through everything and has never left me no matter what happens. Along with never leaving me, he is truly my best friend and has taught me how to live a joyful life without giving into the worldly pressures. Without Him, I would be lost.
Kelsi: Is there anything you would do differently?
Ben: I would not do anything differently because I believe God's plan is perfect and that everything has happened for a reason. So I believe where I am today is where I am supposed to be, so I would never do anything different.
Kelsi: Do you suggest other students at UND to take on leadership roles?
Ben: I think this world is short on leaders and that more people need to step up for what is right in this world. I feel that many of us at times, including myself, sit back and watch something happen that is outright wrong. Many of us are born leaders and can make a difference, if we step out of the shadows and do what is right.
Overall with my book though, I hope to give people hope and faith, and share with them that anything is possible in life. No matter what the odds are or how low the chances are, anything in life is possible.
Finding Faith in the Field was released on April 6, 2014 and is being sold on Amazon as well as six regional stores: Ferguson Books, Christian Bookshelf, Grafton (N.D.) Drug, Hugo's Supermarkets, The UND Bookstore, and Ye Olde Medicine Center in Park River, N.D. He's also working to get his book listed with Barnes and Noble and on iTunes.
Supervising Intern, Arts & Sciences
Finding Faith in the Field was released on April 6, 2014 and is being sold on Amazon as well as six regional stores: Ferguson Books, Christian Bookshelf, Grafton (N.D.) Drug, Hugo's Supermarkets, The UND Bookstore, and Ye Olde Medicine Center in Park River, N.D.
Contact: Benjamin Hylden