Wednesday, July 15, 2015



( Ben D.Anderson's thoughts about when he was 12 years old leaving the Crippled Children's School in Jamestown, ND to go back to his parent's home and attend public school in a special education class)

"It is very interesting to go along with life thinking you will be in that same place all the time. It has been 8 years and I have no place to go. I have my friends and I only see my parents once in awhile. It seems it is not long enough but there has got to be a reason why. It is not that I don't like this place but I would like to experience being home and going to school. But I don't see any way that I can do this; I am just a boy; I can't make decisions. Other people make them and they are the right decisions but sometimes I wonder why can't my parents be here all the time and we play together and eat together and most of all, they can kiss me goodnight and say my prayers with me. I do miss that.

This is a safe place. I am being taken care of very well. I enjoy my friends and my teachers are okay too. Oh yeah, I have my John Deere tractor that my grandfather bought me when I learned to walk. I think I was about 4 years old when that happened. The farm is a very important place for me but I find myself in this city without the wild grasses I loved to walk through when I am home in the country and the machinery I am so in love with. I miss that. One of my "peace of mind" is the John Deere tractor that I ride up and down the hallways. I don't know words like discrimination.

I don't know words about what discrimination is. You are different so we don't like you. What does that mean? What is that all about? I have never experienced that as this is a "safe place" to be. I remember thinking that I read something on the board with all these names. It happened. In the springtime I am always looking for my name because I realize they don't come back in the fall. I miss them. They are my friends. Why them and not me? Why do they have a chance to be with their family and friends and I always need to come back on Labor Day Weekend? I don't understand. They must have been better than I am to be on that list. Wait! I see my name on that list. Yes, it was!

It was fifty years ago this summer that I saw my name on that list. I get to go home and I get to sleep in my own bed. I get to go to school in that place that I call home. Yes, now I have a chance to be with my parents and eat at the same table and they get to tuck me in and say my prayers with me. It is a different day. Labor Day come and goes and I don't need to travel and most of all I don't need to say goodbye to my parents. I am home at last with my friends and family.

My first day of school was in September of 1965. Everything is well. I feel good. I am home and it is good to see my family and friends all the time. I do miss that school but I do understand this is my place and I will be here for the rest of my life. I don't understand that I am beginning to be laughed at. What is that about? I have never experienced that before. No body thinks that I am able to play baseball or tag. Why am I feeling that I am different than these other kids are? This is a new phenomenom. I have never experienced that feeling. Why doesn't anybody stick up for me? I thought when I came home I would be protected by my friends and my parents. But things are so much different. I have dreams to become a person to go on; to go to college; to be somebody important but I feel trapped. I have this tape playing in my head that when I was child I was told I had a low IQ. Is that possible? How can I get out of this trap? I am traveling a 100 miles to school from home as it seems my own community doesn's want me. I know that I have cerebral palsy but is that a big deal? It wasn't at the other school as we all had disabilities. Some of them could not even walk or could not even speak but that was okay. We all got along but this is somewhat different. It seems to me that I am always the last one picked on the playground. What is this about going to school in a different town. Oh yes, I can be home at night but I am gone all day to this big school in this big city. I was in a special class. I understand that for me to leave the crippled children's school was one of the recommendations was to put me into a special education in my hometown but now I am in a different city. I don't know why. Discrimination comes in different shapes and forms. It is not always done by young kids but it can be done by grown ups that don't understand that people are different. I understand that I am different but I don't understand why it is a big deal to other people.

It is time for us to put away our bias and begin to get along with each other."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Break Through Inc.'s 10/10 Team

Dear Friends,

We are very excited to announce to you that we have just received a mini-grant from the Wyoming Governor's Developmental Disability Council to do a speaking tour of K-12 schools beginning this August 2013 on the subject of disabilities and 'bullying'.  Thanks to the 10/10 Team supporters Break Through is able to help with costs because the above grant does not fully pay for this program. We need your continued financial help for Break Through to continue the mission that we have here in Rapid City and around the country.  Your donations helped with our South Dakota Tours of K-12 schools last April and October 2012 where the SD DD council grant did not cover the costs of those programs.

We are also pleased to announce that since February 4th 2013 we have been working with Black Hills Works in Rapid City, South Dakota. It is a workshop that helps persons with disabilities to obtain work, home and independence. We were hired by Black Hills Works on a part time contract to be liaisons between their persons served and the religious community. We have helped 8 plus clients in a few months time to be involved in a church of their choice.

Let us tell you about an older lady that we placed in a church that had a worship service followed by a Native American "Pow Wow" as their fellowship gathering. She was so excited to being there and while there one of the leaders took her prayer shawl and started to dance with it with the other young ladies who were doing a Native American dance. What a wonderful way for her to be a part of the service and with the congregation in her community.
There are other stories like this that we could tell you but the important thing is that the clients can be involved with faith communities outside of their own environment.
The gifts that you have given in the past to Break Through Inc.'s 10/10 team have been greatly appreciated as this grant that we have from Black Hills Works depends on other donations to make up Break Through's relocation to Rapid City. We are receiving invites to come and speak and teach in South Dakota and Wyoming for 2013 -2014.

Here in Rapid City we were invited to be a part of an Open House for Goodwill industries. It was good way to meet other people in the disability communities and businesses. They have an new "Connection Center" where people can come and use computers and obtain help in finding employment. This is a free service for everyone.

We have found a church community here in Rapid City. It is one of the congregations that I spoke at last April 2012 while we were touring South Dakota speaking at K-12 schools on the subject of disabilities and bullying. That tour was sponsored by the South Dakota Developmental Disability Council.

The other day we were out and about and ran into one of the people that hosted me during the South Dakota Tour. She told us that because of my presentation at her school there was a young lady that wrote a paper on persons with disabilities. This may not have happened if she was not given the opportunity to be present at one of my presentations at her school. Awareness is a very important subject for these young students as they carry through in life.

We have a busy summer ahead of us. I will be doing some staff training at Outlaw Ranch which is a part of Lutheran Outdoors of South Dakota at the end of May. We have also been invited to be at the South Dakota Conference of the United Church of Christ the beginning of June besides daily meetings with people about Break Through Inc.'s mission and our Black Hills Works liaison work.

We will be at the Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible camp "Boat-In" on June 16th for their 9:20 am worship service on Hickory Point Lane. (Amery, WI) I will be one of the speakers during the service. It is not only Father's Day but it is my 60th birthday! How time flies. We are inviting you to come and we do hope you can come. We would love to see you.

We sincerely hope that you can financially help Break Through Inc.'s mission with a donation in any amount. It will  be appreciated very much. Go to our 10/10 Team website link at

Thank you all and have a great day!

Ben and Dee Anderson
Break Through Inc.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Legacy of My Time at Wapo

One of my days at Wapo speaking to the youths.

My tenure began at Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp in 1978. I have spoken to thousands of youths there during the past 30 plus years.

My first time at Wapogasset was in August in 1976 to pick up a key for Director Loren Teig. One of my first conversations was in the camp kitchen with Donna Halverson who was the head cook at that time. That was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with the Halverson family.

I received a letter from Loren to join Lutheran Youth Encounter and Loren was the director of summer teams at that time in 1976. He also was the director of Lake Wapogasset Bible Camp (Wapo). He gave me the opportunity to be involved with Lake Wapogasset in 1978.

In 1978 I began Break Through Inc. a non-profit organization for people to become aware of persons with disabilities throughout the U.S.. (

That year I began a long term relationship with the camp. I spent my summers helping youths understand people with disabilities. During this time I had the opportunities to meet youth directors and pastors who passed "through the gates" of Wapo. I so appreciate my time with Wapogasset.

In 1992 I was blessed by being honored as one of the "Andersons" to be named for "Anderson Hall" at Wapo.

On March 26th 2006 I married the love of my life, Dee in "Anderson Hall" with a reception at the "Commons" dining hall. She was a long term volunteer to help build their new Crossfire Retreat Center. We have spent the last 7 years working with the camp in the summertime but now my legacy at Wapogasset must come to an end as a summer resource person but we will continue to be involved as friends and supporters of Wapo.

We have taken on a new challenge in Rapid City, SD as liasons between the Black Hills Works population served and the Rapid City area religious community.

My time at Wapo with campers and also Tim Teamers has been a very important part of my ministry at Wapo. They are able to understand about persons with disabilities, not only in working with their own congregations but also as they go on into the workforce. My hope is that they will remember our conversations to include persons with disabilities. For the rest of the campers, it is my hope that they will remember me not because that I am so important but for the message that I gave as they remember that and integrate back into their communities and schools.

We are looking forward to be at Wapo's "Boat-In" on June 16th as I am speaking. I am also proud to say I will be 60 years old that day. I have arrived at mid-life and life is good.

You can connect with me at my email at or my new Break Through Inc. Rapid City address:

Ben and Dee Anderson
Break Through Inc.
1761 Harmony Heights Lane, #105
Rapid City, SD 57702

May God Bless you all.

Dee and I in Rapid City,SD 2013

Rapid City from the hilltop at "Dinosaur Park".

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's Christmas time 2012 and time to say Hello!

My wife Dee and I have had a very busy year. We traveled to see my mom and dad in Kenmare the end of June. It was great to spend some time with them. We also did some camping for a few days in North Dakota by the Peace Gardens for the 4th of July. During that time we enjoyed having a boat ride on Lake Metigoshe with a professor from Minot State that is using my book in her class in the special education department. It was good to see her and her family and the weather was nice and cooler than it was at home in Wisconsin. It was a hot summer.

In July of this year Break Through Inc. received a grant from the South Dakota Developmental Disability Council to do a full month tour in October. This was the second time we received a grant. In April, Break Through Inc. was given a small grant from that council to do a short tour for me to speak on the subject of disabilities and bullying. I spoke to about 1700 students in about 10 schools. At that time, our first stop was in Rapid City for Easter Sunday and we had two days to ourselves with gorgeous 70 degree sunny weather. On Easter Monday we drove around the Custer Wildlife area to look at the buffalo and deer. We were the only car on the road!

In October it was a month long tour. We did about 26 different schools and organizations around South Dakota and spoke to about 4300 students/teachers. My main message was about "bullying" other people. The students made commitments not to be involved with bullying.

During our October tour we had the opportunity to visit Joy Ranch outside of Watertown, SD. It is a faith-based outdoor camp and retreat center. It is totally accessible camp and it is built as an old prairie town of the 1800's. The camp sits on a hill overlooking a small lake out in the prairies. We are looking forward to possibly working with them in the future. This is their website--

Once again I was involved with Lake Wapogasset Bible Camp as a resource staff and it was a very successful summer. The camp bought my new booklet on bullying entitled "Last One Picked, So What! We can turn it around. I was able to give out copies to the high school Tim Teams. I had a great discussion
with them about bullying.

Dee and I once again went to the "Widening the Welcome" conference in Columbus, Ohio in November.
It is sponsored by the United Church of Christ Disability and Mental Health Ministries. It was a great conference and I did a workshop for them on hospitality, mental health and disabilities within the congregation and community. There were a lot of great workshops and speakers.

This January, Dee and I will be traveling again to Rapid City, SD to look at a long term contract for Break Through Inc with Black Hills Works. Black Hills Works is an organization that works with persons with disabilities trying to give them some work opportunities and also to help them find work and independent living within their communities. We are very excited about this opportunity and look forward to our conversations with them to help Break Through fulfill their mission within the Rapid City area.

This opportunity in Rapid City is only a part of our mission and Break Through will continue to advocate in other areas throughout the country. So today we are asking you to be a part of that by helping with your financial commitments. As you know, Break Through Inc. has it's Ten/Ten team of supporters who can donate either on a monthly basis of $10. or more per month or as a one time gift. You can donate online via our website at or send check to Break Through Inc. PO Box 284, Amery, WI 54001

Dee and I will be going to the Lake Wapogasset Christmas Dinner Theater in December. Dee was not able to sing in the choir this year due to the fact we were traveling during choir practice times. Dee has been involved with the Dinner Theater since 2005.

Dee and I hope you have a great Holiday Season.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


40 years ago tonight I graduated from Minot Senior High on May 24th 1972. How can 40 years go by so quickly? I have been so blessed to be able to do what I have done in the past 40 years. 40 years ago I was stuck in Special Education class and being told that I should become a dishwasher or work in a sheltered workshop.

It was in 1974 that I had the opportunity to meet a person named Wayne Nelson from Grand Forks, ND. Wayne gave me a chance to work as a public speaker on the subject of disabilities. Who would have ever thought that day in Grand Forks would end up as leading to my lifetime career.

In 1978 I began a non-profit organization called Break Through Inc.
"Our mission is one of rehabilitation education and advocacy for and about people with disabilities to encourage and enlighten the public about people with disabilities in that they are people first and have rights and needs and that they also have gifts and talents to bring to the community."

Break Through is still going strong. A lot has happened between then and now. I graduated in 1992 from UW-Stout in Menomonie Wisconsin with a degree in Vocational Rehabilitation. I wrote a book in 2007. Now I am "all over the map" giving presentations on the subject of disability.

As I sit at my desk writing this, looking back in time, I know it was a bumpy ride but it was a ride that was well worth it.

My wife Dee and I were married in March of 2006 at Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp in Anderson Hall. Today Dee and I travel throughout the country where I speak to groups on the subject of disabilities hoping that they will get a new perspective in life.

We have also been speaking at K-12 schools about disabilities and "bullying". Last April ( 2012) we spoke to over 1600 people in South Dakota. One of the highlights of that tour was a young boy who came to realize that what he was doing ( bullying at school) was wrong. What a revelation for both of us as he received the message that I had and he was able to understand that he needed to change. He and I gave "high fives" to each other as he promised to try to do better.

During our tour in South Dakota we introduced a new booklet on disabilities and bullying entitled "Last One Picked, So What!" We can turn it around. Yes, that night of May 24th 1972 at Minot High I was too busy receiving my diploma to think what was before me. As I look back all I can say is that I have been blessed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

South Dakota Tour

Today we just finished up our preparations for the South Dakota Tour where I will begin to speak in the Black Hills at the South Dakota Early Childhood Conference in Spearfish. I am also doing some inservice training in the Blackhills and also speaking to some parent groups and churches. We will be driving from before Easter until the 23rd of April on this tour.

We will then be driving east and working with five different school districts in South Dakota. We are thankful that the South Dakota Council on Developemental Disabilities is co-sponsoring this tour. I will be speaking also giving out books to the schools. I just finished writing a small booklet on "bullying" that will be provided to the schools. It is entitled "Last One Picked, So What!" We can turn it around and should provide good discussion within the classrooms.

You can find this new booklet for sale online on my website at If you are interested in having me speak at your school or for your group contact me at my email address-

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012

Merry Christmas and
a Happy New Year to All

Greetings to one and all!
From the kid in us to the kid in you!

Dee and I have had a busy yet pleasant 2011.

April 15-17th we traveled to Sioux Falls where we attended the South Dakota Association for the Education of Young Children conference (SDAEYC) where I spoke for the second year in a row. It was a great conference.
End of April --I spoke at the Early Childhood Conference held at UW-Stout here in Menomonie, WI. to which I have been involved and presented with workshops for three years and will be there again in 2012.

The best of the year was getting to be in Madison in August for a Cognitive Disability Conference sponsored by CESA in which our friend Dr. Ashleigh Molloy from Toronto, Ontario, Canada was a presenter. We were both keynote presenters and workshop leaders. It was great and you can find our presentation clips online on our websites thanks to Dee! Like them or not! LOL

It had been several years since we three had been together other than through email and phone calls. Dr. Ash, Dee and I had a good time after the conference sitting on the lakeside in Madison relaxing, enjoying the sailboats and chatting. He wanted to bring back to his family in Toronto some Krumkake ( made in Racine) that he had eaten at a party honoring one of the Wisconsin educators but we could not find a store near us that had that delicious Scandinavian cake dessert.

This summer we had some beautiful weather and we had fun going to a few places on our own to enjoy the lakes and country. I, of course, was again at Lake Wapogasset Bible Camp teaching one day a week to young people about disabilities. I spoke at chapel and that would have been about 4000-5000 kids that heard about faith and disabilities and how to respect everyone.

In September, Dee and I were home in Kenmare, North Dakota and had a great time being with mom and dad. My dad is 92 years old last June and we got to see photos of his "Rough Rider's" flight to Washington, DC in May of 2011 with my sister Terri. My dad is a WWII veteran. I am happy he enjoyed the trip. Of course, while in North Dakota I spoke for two days at Minot State University to some special education classes where my book is being used as a textbook. ( IQ of 63, So What!)

The end of September Dee and I flew to Columbus, Ohio where we were invited and attended a church conference sponsored by two church ministries concerning disabilities and mental health within church congregations called "Widening the Welcome". It was a great conference and we met a lot of new friends. For the past few months Dee and I have been to several churches extending this "Widening the Welcome" within congregations to welcome people with disabilities. We need to welcome all and embrace our differences and uniqueness. (Please visit us at and support our non-profit Break Through Inc.)

We are looking forward to 2012 as we begin our new year. We have a two week tour in South Dakota in April 2012 where I will be speaking at schools, parent groups, churches and in-service training.
Dee and I hope you have a Blessed Christmas and a Good New Year. Remember to keep that kid in you! Ben and Dee