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Meet Ben Splonskowski
Executive Director, Bismarck, Sanford Health
Serving others takes on a different meaning when you’ve beaten the odds and survived brain cancer. Just ask Ben Splonskowski, a lead patient access representative in the emergency department at Sanford Bismarck.
After he was diagnosed with a rare cancerous brain tumor in 2010, he needed to have surgery immediately; otherwise, the prognosis wasn’t good. After surgery, he went through weeks of rigorous treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation. He was told by his oncologist that he was cancer-free but that he wouldn’t be able to work again.
In my head I just felt like I wasn’t ready to do that,” says Ben. “I felt like I was here for a reason and my reason wasn’t just to sit at home. My duty was to go out and work and help.
He grew closer to God during this time and wanted to find ways to serve others. The perfect fit was the Knights of Columbus group at his church, Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.
The group’s members are men ranging in age from 18 to their upper 60s. They do fundraising to help church and community members in need — financially and otherwise.
“It might be something they can’t physically do, like building a patio,” Ben says.
The group meets once a month and their leader talks about any requests for help that they’ve received, for example – the church needing help cleaning out storage closets.
Pre-pandemic, the men were known for hosting an annual neighborhood festival as a way to reach out to the community and give people a place to enjoy each other’s company. Ben helped serve food and beverages while visiting with attendees.
“I like the idea of being able to help others and that’s probably the most important part,” says Ben. “After everything I went through, I realized life is more about helping others than yourself. That’s where I get joy.”
Ben’s service-oriented focus continues when he’s at work. There he’s found ways to uplift patients and co-workers since he began in 2016.
“I feel like I’m helping there for a reason,” says Ben.
If he needs to get a signature from a patient in their hospital room, Ben shares words of encouragement, telling them how he survived cancer and to stay strong themselves.
In the past few years, he’s had pens made for his co-workers that say, “We make a difference.”
“They’re all miracle workers as far as I’m concerned,” Ben says as he reflects on their impact.
Whether he’s working or volunteering, Ben knows his purpose is to be there for others in any way that he can.
“There’s no greater joy,” he says.