From Stepping Stones to College... An Alumni Testimonial... A Story from the 13/14 Annual Report

March 13th, 2015

Meet Ben Dorn.  Ben is a 25 year old, sports-loving, family man and college graduate.  He is well known in his community, works in a dentist’s office, wants to pursue public speaking, and one day hopes to work for the New York Jets.  Ben has accomplished a lot in his 25 years, while living with Down syndrome.

Ben’s family received his diagnosis when he was just hours old and with recommendations from a hospital nurse they reached out to The Arc of Essex County for support.  Two weeks later he enrolled in Stepping Stones Early Intervention program where he worked with therapists twice a week until he was three, learning cognitive, physical, social, and communication skills.

After graduating from Stepping Stones Early Intervention, Ben continued on to The Arc of Essex County’s Stepping Stones School.  Here, he and his family developed strong friendships while he learned life and social skills in addition to his early education curriculum.  

At home, Ben was treated just like his other siblings.  While expectations were unknown early on, Ben and his family always pushed the limits, setting goals and achieving them one at a time.  Upon graduating from high school, Ben set a goal to continue his education and learn how to be more independent.  He was accepted into The College of New Jersey’s (TCNJ) career and community studies program in 2010.   
While at TCNJ, Ben was active on campus, pursuing multiple internships, serving as a mentor to other students in his program, and participating in one of the school’s musical groups.  He graduated from TCNJ in 2014.

“Ben has a happy life and it all started here [at The Arc of Essex County],” said Ben’s mom, Leslie Skurla.  “If Ben didn’t get the basic five or six years [at Stepping Stones], none of this would have happened.  I am very proud and it is a blessing.”

Ben and his mother are most appreciative for the hard work and support from The Arc of Essex County’s staff.  As an alumni of The Stepping Stones School, Ben wishes all of the other alumni and current students the best of luck and assurance that “you’re on the road to greatness.”

To read the full 2013-2014 Annual Report, click here.