Advocate for autism awareness and public speaker Ben Hartranft visits Bridgewater College

Hartranft was on The Ellen DeGeneres Show back in 2018.
Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 1:05 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 1:37 AM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - 23-year-old Ben Hartranft from Pennsylvania was diagnosed with autism at the age of two.

He strives to share his story and advocate for autism awareness around the country.

On Wednesday night, he made a stop at Bridgewater College.

Hartranft said he hopes to continue meeting new people and spreading kindness and inclusivity.

“Having autism is not a bad thing. It doesn’t characterize who we are. Everybody is unique and special, just like a rainbow,” Hartranft said. “My goal is to meet the president, meet other people and talk about autism and making sure this is a national-wide thing.”

In his presentation Wednesday night, Hartranft told his story from learning to talk and read to having his dad teach him how to drive.

Hartranft is a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan and works as a gameday staff employee for the team. He was also on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2018.

His parents Sandy and Glenn said they are so proud of what he has accomplished.

“The things that we have seen him be able to do is amazing,” Glenn said. “He wants to change the world. We’ll see what happens and we’re here for the ride.”

Ryanna Power is a senior at Bridgewater and the president of “Spectrum Sense,” a club that works to spread more awareness for autism both at the college and in the community.

“We created this club when we were sophomores and because of COVID it got pushed back so much, but because we started making a presence we actually started making connections and found Ben,” Power said.

Power’s sister Payton has autism and wants to continue to spread awareness.

“I think it’s important to spread awareness for people with autism because people with autism are just like us. They’re unique and they are special their own way and we’re all different. That doesn’t mean they need to be treated differently,” Power said.

Vice president of Spectrum Sense Camryn Rosenberger’s brother Logan also has autism, and said she wants to continue to advocate for him.

“I really just really wanted to spread awareness and show my brother that there are people like him and people that care for him and care for the fact that he has autism and accepts him the way he is,” Rosenberger said.

Hartranft started his own company called “Benergy1 Presentations” and has a podcast. You can learn more here.

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