Ben Felten

Ben was born fully sighted, but a degenerative eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa left him completely blind by his late 20s.

Ben began riding trail bikes at the age of 7 and bought his first bike at 13, spending his early youth tinkering around the bike’s mechanics. When Ben was in his early teens he had a motorbike accident while trail riding and it was then that the doctors diagnosed Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Ben’s dreams of joining the navy and becoming a mechanical engineer slipped away from him as his sight began to deteriorate. He had trouble coming to terms with his diagnosis. Hurt, angry and in denial he took his frustrations out on others, including his friends and family.

During a low point in his mid twenties, with his blindness almost complete, Ben realised he needed to take responsibility for himself, accept the diagnosis and move on with his life. He knew, in that moment, that he wanted to make a difference for people with a disability.

And that he did. After University, Ben set up the Nepean Blind Sports Club and gave up full time employment to become Coordinator of the Western Sydney – NSW Sports Council for the Disabled. He went on to establish Sailability.

Ben is a former world champion and has a host of medals and records to his name in Rowing and Cricket, including the Jim Anderson Memorial Award for distinguished service to sport and administration.

Many current athletes and paralympians owe their start to Ben’s passion and drive. His passion for inclusivity sets Ben apart from other advocates of “giving people with a disability opportunities”. He encourages everyone, with or without a disability, to pursue their dreams.