Tri-State man skating unlikely path to represent Team USA in the Paralympics

Ben Musselman’s story is a miracle both on and off the ice.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 9:52 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Greater Cincinnati athlete took an improbable path on his way to future Olympic dreams.

When Team USA takes the ice for the Para Sled Hockey World Championships in Canada this June, Ben Musselman will proudly be wearing the stars and stripes.

Few would have guessed it of him when he was born with spina bifida in the People’s Republic of China 22 years ago.

Mark and Amy Musselman were a young couple with four kids then. One of their children had just been born, and their plate looked full.

It wasn’t. The couple says God kept giving them signs. They found Ben through The Shepherd’s Crook Ministry. The 2-year-old boy had already endured a life.

It wasn’t long before the Musselmans brought Ben to their Amelia home.

“He immediately said ‘baba,’ which means ‘papa,’” Mark recalled with tears in his eyes. “From that moment, he would not leave me.”

Even without feeling below his waist, Ben kept taking steps to prove to everyone that he could overcome everything.

“Early on, it was a struggle, being different early,” Ben said. “But as you get older, you force yourself into everyday life, and it becomes everyday.”

A family video from years ago shows Ben descending the stairs using his arms. It’s difficult, but he’s undeterred. Now the difficulty is gone.

“We’ve always marveled at his ease and confidence,” Amy said.

At 13, Ben picked up sled hockey. His parents braced for a choppy start. It was anything but.

“He was the second or third fastest on the ice his first day in the sled,” Mark said.

Two decades later, Ben is one of the fastest sled hockey players in the world.

“The sport has changed my life,” Ben said. “It’s given me a lot of motivation to physically be my best every single day.”

The sport took Ben where few thought he’d go—and he excelled. In his first five international games, he scored four goals. Now he’s tracking toward the 2026 Winter Paralympics in Italy.

“You use that as motivation to train every day,” he said. “I know for other guys that winning a medal has changed their lives. It’s motivating, definitely.”

For Ben’s parents, the joy of watching their son take the ice has never left them.

“I am just so blessed to be his mom and I am so proud of everything he is, not just the sled hockey,” Amy said. “That speaks to his ability to go against every obstacle, and he’s always been like that.”

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