|Born||Benjamin Daniel Breedlove
August 8, 1993
|Died||December 25, 2011
|Cause of death||Cardiac arrest|
|Alma mater||Westlake High School|
|Web hosting service(s)||YouTube|
Benjamin Daniel Breedlove (August 8, 1993 – December 25, 2011) was an American Internet personality from Austin, Texas, known for his blogs on YouTube. On the night of December 25, 2011, he died of cardiac arrest at the age of 18.
Life and career
Ben Breedlove grew up in Austin, Texas, where he was a Senior at Westlake High School. Ben lived with his parents along with his older sister Ally and younger brother Jake. In 2010, he began making video blogs on YouTube, in which he dealt out relationship advice to his peers.
Breedlove created the OurAdvice4You channel on YouTube in November 2010 with friends, Justin Miller and Megan Parken. He would give out relationship advice to his viewers and interview family members and friends. On May 23, 2011, he launched his second channel, BreedloveTV, a companion channel to his first, where he would answer questions about dating, relationships and advice. According to family members, girls from all over the world would message Breedlove, asking him for advice. In his hometown, Breedlove became a celebrity to many teenagers; he was continually asked to be in pictures with his fans.
As of July 2, 2013, OurAdvice4You has a total of 38 videos, and more than 60,898 subscribers, and BreedloveTV has 17 videos and over 31,502 subscribers.
A third channel was created by Ben Breedlove on December 18, 2011, titled TotalRandomness512. This channel is the host of the two-part video, "This is my story", which has since become viral. As of July 2, 2013, both videos together have been viewed 12,953,502 times.
Heart Condition (HCM)
At an early age, Breedlove had been diagnosed with Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). It is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes thick. Often, only one part of the heart is thicker than the other parts. The thickening can make it harder for blood to leave the heart, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood. It also can make it harder for the heart to relax and fill with blood.
"This is my story"
On December 18, 2011, Breedlove released a 2-part video on YouTube, titled "This is my story." Breedlove opens up about his heart condition as well as the impact it had on his life, using note cards. He also mentioned three near-death experiences.
In the video, Breedlove describes the first time he "cheated" death, which was at the age of 4 when he had a life-threatening seizure. He goes on to describe an experience he had in a hospital while being wheeled on a stretcher, "There was this big bright light above me ... I couldn't make out what it was because it was so bright. I told my mom, 'Look at the bright light' and pointed up. She said she didn't see anything."
On May 5, 2009, Breedlove underwent surgery to insert a pacemaker. The pacemaker helped regulate his heart rhythm. In the video he shows a red scar on his chest, where the pacemaker had been inserted.
In the summer of 2011, while in the hospital for a routine tonsillectomy, Breedlove suffered his second case cardiac arrest. He stated that, "It was a miracle that they brought me back ... I was scared to die, but am so glad I didn't."
The third time Breedlove cheated death was on December 6, 2011. While in the hall at Westlake High School, he felt that he was going to faint, so he sat on a bench and lost consciousness. The next thing he remembered was being surrounded by emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, and that he was unable to speak or move. He remembers passing out a second time right before he was about to be resuscitated with a "shock pad". During this time his heart ceased pumping blood for three minutes. While unconscious, Breedlove had a feeling of comfort similar to that of his first near-death experience. He recalls being dressed up in a white suit while standing alongside his favorite rapper, Kid Cudi, in a white room. He references Cudi's song "Mr. Rager", citing the track as his favorite song. He asks at the end of the video, "Do you believe in Angels or God?" and simply answers, "I Do."
Breedlove died due to cardiac arrest on the evening of Christmas Day, 2011, at his parents' home as family and friends were gathering for Christmas dinner. According to Ben's best friend, Elijah Blassingame, he had received a new video camera for Christmas and was anxious to get outside and try it. While outside, he began experiencing shortness of breath and light headedness. Breedlove laid down in the yard then passed out. His parents called 911 and administered CPR until EMS arrived. Friends of the family were on their way to the Breedlove home to share Christmas dinner with them. However, when they arrived the yard was filled with emergency vehicles. Paramedics rushed Ben to the hospital, but all resuscitation attempts failed and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Media coverage and memorials
News of his death made world coverage on December 27, his story first appearing on Australia's Ninemsn before coverage spread out through the world on other major media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, American Broadcasting Company, CBS News, MSNBC, Fox News, MTV, Daily Mail, The Independent, Herald Sun, Washington Post, People Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.
On December 29, Breedlove's funeral was held at the Gateway Church, in Austin, Texas. The memorial service was streamed live on the KXAN website, at his father's request. More than 1,400 people attended the service, and another 11,000 watched online. A day after Breedlove's death, Kid Cudi said in reaction, "This has really touched my heart in a way I can't describe, this is why I do what I do." Kid Cudi later dedicated his third studio album Indicud (2013), to Breedlove and all his fans that have died; the dedication can be found in the album's liner notes.
Breedlove's family had his organs and tissue donated, a decision that wasn't difficult, since, Ben eventually would have needed heart transplantation himself, and "Ben would have wanted to continue helping and inspiring others," according to his mother. On January 1, 2013, Breedlove was among four other individuals honored by Dignity Memorial on a Donate Life float at the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade. The float was memorialized with floragraphs and portraits of the five individuals, made out of floral and other natural materials, that were decorated by their family and friends in December.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association & The HEARTS Act
On January 5, 2012, the HCMA (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association) announced that they mourn the death of Breedlove and are encouraging their members to "tell their stories the same way as Ben." Lisa Salberg, founder and CEO of HCMA, along with New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. had worked together in drafting the Cardiomyopathy Health Education, Awareness, Risk Assessment, and Training in the Schools (HEARTs) act. The Bill was introduced in January 2012 to Congress. "The HEARTs Act mandates raising awareness about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in schools and childcare centers and requires better prevention measures that will save young people's lives. It requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to coordinate with the Centers for Disease Control as well as patient advocacy and health professional organizations to develop and distribute materials about SCA. Also, it requires guidelines regarding the placement of life-saving automated external defibrillators in schools and information on cardiopulmonary resuscitation CPR training."
Salberg cited Ben Breedlove and others like him as the reason they will "lobby hard for the passage" of the HEARTs Act. The HCMA have agreed to create a special design bracelet for awareness of the disease. Students of Ben's high school, Westlake High, have had input into the design.
The Westlake High School Student Council and Friday Night Fan Stand collected donations for the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association during the Ben Breedlove Memorial Football Game which took place at the Westlake football stadium on September 21, 2012. Fans wore white as a show of support and a moment of silence was observed. Funds collected were used for educational efforts relating to the disease that claimed Breedlove's life.
Africa New Life Ministries
Donations in honor of Breedlove have also been directed to Africa New Life Ministries, an organization which states as its mission to provide "education, spiritual insight and basic necessities to poor children and families." During Breedlove's teenage years, he became familiar with the plight of homeless African children; specifically those enslaved as child soldiers. Breedlove's desire was to find a way to help these children, but he was unable to do so during his lifetime. In honor of Breedlove's wishes, funds donated to the Ben Breedlove Memorial Fund will be used to help feed, clothe and educate young men in Rwanda.
On January 1, 2013, the Rose Bowl Parade float titled "Journeys of the Heart", which was sponsored by Donate Life, featured florographs of Breedlove, along with many other organ and tissue donors and recipients. Each year, Donate Life honors deceased organ, eye and tissue donors nationwide by creating and placing the florographs on the float. The float was decorated with all fresh flowers, plants and seeds. The artistry of the float included sweeping hearts that swirled up very high and low, symbolizing the highs and lows of organ and tissue donation.
Breedlove's heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, often requires a heart transplant. Because Breedlove would possibly require a heart transplant, he and his family made the decision to register as donors with the belief that if they were to be a recipient family, they should be willing to be donors, too. Breedlove's legacy of donation currently lives on in approximately 50 people, with the potential to help more.
When Will The Heaven Begin?
On October 29, 2013, the book, When Will The Heaven Begin? was released.  It made it on to the New York Times Best Seller List in week one.  This emotional, humorous and inspiring memoir of Ben's life is written by his sister, Ally Breedlove with Ken Abraham. Penguin Publishers announced the release of the book in early summer. The title of the book is taken from the lyric of the song, Mr. Rager, written and performed by Kid Cudi. During Ben's second cardiac arrest, he had a vision of being in a peaceful, white room, in which his favorite rapper, Kid Cudi appeared alongside him as the lyrics to the song, Mr. Rager, began playing. The lyrics, which read, "When will the fantasy end? When will the heaven begin?" played very clearly in Ben's vision. Instead of going on to heaven, Ben found himself back on earth; presumably to finish his purpose on earth which was to inspire and encourage others.
- Cargile, Erin (December 29, 2011). "How Ben lived with his heart condition". KXAN.com. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
- Ng, Christina (December 28, 2011). "Texas Teen Ben Breedlove Posted Powerful Videos Before Christmas Death". American Broadcasting Company. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- "Teen Shares His Heartbreaking Story". Huffington Post. December 28, 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- "'There was this bright light above me': Teenager makes heartbreaking video about his near-death experiences — a week before he dies from heart attack". Daily Mail. December 28, 2011. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
- Ninemsn Staff (December 27, 2011). "Sick teen's heartbreaking final message". Ninemsn. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- "Texas Teenager Touches Thousands Through YouTube". NBCDFW.com. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- McGraw, Dan (December 28, 2011). "Texas teen leaves YouTube video days before death". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- Rene Lynch & Deborah Netburn (December 28, 2011). "Texas teen dies on Christmas, leaves online message". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- Dahl, Melissa (December 29, 2011). "After Christmas death, teen leaves online message behind". msnbc.com. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- Venutolo, Anthony (December 29, 2011 (updated January 09, 2012)). "Rapper Kid Cudi acknowledges late teen Ben Breedlove". The Star-Ledger.
- O'Connell, Michael (December 30, 2011). "NBC Accused of Editing Religion Out of Ben Breedlove Viral Clip (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
- "Teen posts YouTube message days before death" (Official YouTube video). CBS (CBS). December 29, 2011. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- Tozzi, Robert (December 28, 2011). "Texas Teen Leaves Behind Inspirational Video After Christmas Death". Fox News. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- Duncan-Mao, Andrea (December 29, 2011). "Kid Cudi 'Broke Down' Over Fan Ben Breedlove's Death". MTV. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- "Teenager posts heartbreaking video of near death experiences just one week before dying". The Independent. December 28, 2011. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- "Teen shares heartbreaking life and death on video". Herald Sun. December 29, 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- Hughes, Sarah (December 29, 2011). "Kid Cudi pens letter to fan who passed away from heart condition". Washington Post. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- Breuer, Howard (December 29, 2011). "Teen Died on Christmas, Left Behind Candid Message on YouTube". People Magazine. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- WSJ staff (January 1, 2012). "Teen Tells Story on YouTube Before Death". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- Erin Cargile (December 29, 2011). "Ben's pastor: He loved life, loved God - 6 pm News" (Official YouTube video). KXAN (KXAN). Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- Erin Cargile & Pamela Cosel (December 29, 2011). "Ben's pastor: He loved life, loved God". KXAN. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- Stapleton, Erica (December 30, 2011). "Kid Cudi passionately reacts to Ben Breedlove videos". TheCelebertyCafe.com. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- DP (April 13, 2013). "Kid Cudi Dedicates INDICUD Album to Fans, Ben Breedlove". DatNewCudi.com. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
- "Ben Breedlove lives on through others". KXAN. December 16, 2012. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
- "The Dignity Memorial Network Honors Five Individuals Who Gave the Gift of Life Through Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation". DignityMemorial.com. November 5, 2012. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
- "HCMA Remembers Ben Breedlove and Encourages You to Get the Facts on Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)". Market Watch. January 5, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- Cargile, Erin (January 4, 2012). "Students wear white to honor Breedlove". KXAN. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- Ed Allen, Opinion Article, Westlake Picayune Newspaper, September 20, 2012
- Natalie Green, Africa New Life Website
- KVUE Reporter, KVUE News, December 18, 2012
- 2013 Florographs, Donate Life Rose Parade Float, December 2012
- Ben Breedlove Lives On Through Others, KXAN News, December 16, 2012