Benjamin Robert Gerlach was a triplet born on June 30, 2012 very early at only 25 weeks. He and his brother Colin and sister Ava spent 4-5 months in the NICU at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, IL. Ben had an extremely difficult time in his first few weeks of life due to his prematurity. Going through the NICU rollercoaster, his family didn’t know what the future would hold for him. They were just so happy and felt so blessed when he finally left the hospital to go home on Saturday November 24, 2012. After just four short years, Ben passed away of respiratory failure on May 2, 2016 at Lurie Children’s Hospital after multiple respiratory viruses over the previous two years.
In his brief life, he faced many challenges. The Gerlachs knew he was going to struggle with motor development specifically and probably many other things due to his primary condition of cystic encephalomalacia. He was officially diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy at 10 months old. He also had a feeding tube (g-tube), visual impairment, regular seizures/epilepsy, was nonverbal and developed chronic respiratory illnesses.
Despite all of this, he thrived. He was happy. He was always surrounded with love and compassion by angels (disguised as teachers, doctors, nurses, therapists, friends and family) that came into his life and participated in this journey with him.
To keep Ben’s name and memory alive, The Gerlachs wanted to give back to those ‘angels’ and organizations that helped them along the way.