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"It doesn't matter where you are today, but where you want to go that is important.  It is a matter of Don't Stop, Don't Quit, Keep Moving Forward.  

If we are too focused on where we are, we can get too overwhelmed to even try"

-Ben O'Donnell

Ben is a natural storyteller that can creatively adapt the messaging of his story to fit with the needs of his clients.  Ben's message and story are unforgettable and his ability to tell it keeps his audience engaged.  His humor and honest communication inspire confidence and create an environment of mutual growth.  His messaging to healthcare staff and those in the medical industry has focused on burnout and empathy fatigue.

His message of hope, resiliency, and success has an enduring impact on all who hear his message.

Ben's Story

In Feb 2020, Ben was training for his second Ironman Triathlon when he went on a business trip for a week to Colorado and Texas.  On that trip, he contracted COVID-19.  He spend 9 days at home before the state of Minnesota was able to test for COVID-19 and was admitted directly to the ICU.  He was the first critical case of COVID-19 in the state of Minnesota and the first person in North America to survive COVID-19 while requiring ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) support.  He spent 28 days in the ICU, 15 on a ventilator and 12 on ECMO.  During that time, he also suffered Liver and Kidney failure.  

Upon discharge, Ben was sent home with a walker and supplemental oxygen.  He determined that he would still train for and compete in that Ironman triathlon.  It was 14 months to the day of coming off of ECMO life support, he completed Ironman Tulsa in May 2021.  

Ben experienced setbacks and trials as he moved to a new country with his family and started a business.  He dedicated his Ironman to the healthcare workers and community that mean to much to him.  He spends time raising funds for the Ironman Foundations IRONAID program to help non-profit organizations affected by the pandemic.  Additionally, Ben is working to ensure that others would not have to experience what he went through.  He has testified in front of Congress on vaccine hesitancy and continues to spread his message and story.  

Part of his journey is also chronicled in the ESPN Documentary The Long Haul, which is streaming in ESPN+.  

In the news...

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M Health Fairview News & Stories

M Health Fairview experts turn to ECMO treatment to save 38-year-old father and triathlete from COVID-19

By: Staff Writer | April 27, 2020

New York Times

These Athletes Had the Coronavirus. Will They Ever Be the Same?

By: Andrew Keh | May 29, 2020


Ironman, Concordia grad was young and healthy...until COVID-19 almost killed him

By: Tracy Briggs | May 29th 2020 

Star Tribune

Ironman who beat COVID-19 back in training

By: Elizabeth Flores | July 5, 2020

Star Tribune

Minnesota Ironman who beat COVID-19 back in training

By: Jeremy Olson | July 8, 2020

Star Tribune

Ironman COVID-19 Survivor Rewards Minnesota Caregivers

By: Jeremy Olson | November 12, 2021

Ben O'Donnell

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