This week we chat with Ben Carpenter, 17, a King High senior from Brandon, who is the founder of a nonprofit company and serves as captain of one of the country's best power wheelchair soccer teams. Q: You have received accolades for being an athlete, launching a nonprofit company and excelling in the classroom. How do you do it all? A: Prioritizing and planning. If there's one thing that I have learned from my life and all of the events I participate in it is that everything is about balance and forethought. I know that during the week my focus is on solely academics. On Saturday, it is homework and other work like Ben's Mends, and on Sunday it is all about soccer. Q: Did you beat out the other nine high school student-athletes from across the country to win the U.S. Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence?A: I did not win the Award for Excellence, but my trip to San Antonio was still an amazing one. The experience was truly mind-blowing, and to be able to say that I was part of such a program is one of my greatest honors. Getting to come face to face with the Army personnel who have made and who make it possible for me to do what I do was awe inspiring. Q: You founded a company, Ben's Mends, that restores and donates damaged books. How did you come up with the idea, and did you have any help launching it? A: Ben's Mends was founded off of my love for reading and my desire to help others escape the harsh real world and into world of a book. At the start it was really just my parents and me, but it soon expanded to my group of close friends. Q: You are the team captain of the Tampa Thunder, one of the best power wheelchair soccer teams in the nation. It's a fast-paced game requiring speed and quick turns. Tell us about the adrenaline rush from playing such a fast-paced game. A: The rush I get playing power soccer is far greater than anything else I have ever experienced. You never know if you might flip, who will score, or what your opponent will do next, which builds up your adrenaline but also leaves all of us mentally exhausted after each game. Q: What two teams would you like to see in the Super Bowl, and why? A: In the AFC, the Broncos and in the NFC, the Seahawks. I think it is time for Manning to reclaim his spot as top quarterback in the NFL, and I think that the underdog Seahawks should at least have a shot at the title. Next year, I would go for our home team, the Bucs, of course, and the Broncos for Manning and Rudy Carpenter.
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