Making Lemonade With Ben: The Audacity To Cope

BenFISTpump Kanimated KBhugkissendspeech“Riveting!” “Inspiring and valuable information…” “Very motivating!” “Loved, loved, loved this presentation…” “Thought provoking!” “Absolutely on topic…” “Powerful…” “Positive and great use of humor.” “Katherine and Ben are outstanding advocates for all individuals.” “Memorable…” “Would love to have students of medicine see this!”

“It was during lunch when dishes were usually clinking – but there were several moments when you could hear a pin drop.”

“Keep going Ben!”

Comments from Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit, April 2015
Photos courtesy Terri Connelly Cronk

To book Katherine and Ben for speaking at your event, whether in medical or educational fields, or faith, service or other communities: makinglemonadewithben@gmail.comMCPASDMeBen







Ben and Katherine speak to Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Staff, August 2014



AAUW (American Association of University Women), Janesville – January

The Regal Find, Middleton – February

Luv2Read Book Club, Madison area – March

Middleton High School “Diversity” classes – March

Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit, Madison @ Monona Terrace – April

Wisconsin Inclusion Institute Conference, Wausau – July

Portage Community School District, Portage – August

Stanford Neuroscience Nursing Symposium – Stanford, California – TBA – yes, still awaiting a date for this!

Speaking events 2014:
Mystery To Me bookstore Author Slam – February
NAMI Dane County Annual Award banquet keynote – March
Wauwatosa Public Library – April
Advent Lutheran/Community of Hope UCC (Madison Christian Community) – April
UW-Madison Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds Guest Lecturers – July
Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District – 900 people at staff-wide meeting – August
Waunakee Public Library – September
Westbrook Church, Hartland – September
St. Luke’s Lutheran, Middleton – October
Mystery To Me Bookstore, Author Slam – November

Speaking Events 2013:
NBC 15 Live at Five with Leigh Mills -March
Middleton Public Library – April
WISC-TV Morning Show with Charlotte Deleste – April
Madison Downtown Senior Center – May
Fitchburg Senior Center – June
Mystery to Me bookstore Author Slam – July
Monroe Public Library – August
WSUM Radio Interview with Jake Foster – August
P.E.O.Cherokee, Madison – September
Whitewater Public Library – September
Sauk Trails Optimist Club – September
Lodi Public Library – October
Sequoya Branch of Madison Public Libraries – November
Oregon Public Library – November


YAHARA HOUSE fundraising: The mental health piece of our story in less than 5 minutes… 

SilverCoverBUY AWARD-WINNING  Amazon, Barnes and Noble. (Any bookstore or library can order copies.)

The Madison Children’s Museum: Pick up a Ben and Katherine signed copy. Benefits the museum, as well!
The University Book Store – three Madison locations: on campus at Library Mall 711 State St.; next to UW Hospital parking ramp at Health Sciences Learning Center 750 Highland Ave.; and at Hilldale Shopping Center 702 N. Midvale Ave.
Mystery To Me – 1863 Monroe St., Madison
The Regal Find – corner of Parmenter & Elmwood, Middleton (entrance on Elmwood Ave.)
 Kindle at:
 BOOK CLUBS: Women, let’s talk amongst ourselves. At the end of the book you’ll find 11 tantalizing questions covering topics such as book organization, personal paradoxes, coping strategies, our nation’s mental illness support system, mindfulness and last, but definitely not least, shoe love. Something for everyone!


“With wry humor that lightens but also wrenches depending on the moment, Perreth shares the effects on her marriage and younger children and salutes those who held them up, particularly mental health advocates at Madison’s Yahara House.”  – Karyn Saemann, Madison Magazine, August 2013 –

 “This spring season, there arrives a remarkable book…” – Doug Moe, Wisconsin State Journal, Sunday, May 26, 2013 –

“A poignant memoir, full of hope and deep, abiding love. The life lessons she shares in this lengthy memoir make it a worthwhile read; the Perreths’ perseverance, and Ben’s continually sunny disposition—despite having to relearn how to walk more than onceare truly humbling. A bold, honest account of surviving tragedy and living with disability.” – Kirkus Reviews

“It is amazing how Katherine Perreth’s engaging sense of humor shines through even in the most difficult of situations. The author succeeds in removing the stigma that comes with mental illness. Above all, this inspiring story proves that love, mixed with a healthy dose of humor, can conquer all.” – Maria Beltran for Readers’ Favorite


April 17, 2013, Madison’s WISC-TV Morning News in-depth story:

March 21, 2013 Madison’s WMTV NBC15 “Live At Five” interview with Katherine and Ben:

Middleton Times Tribune, March 14, 2013 extensive Q&A with author:
 Like us on fb!

At 4:00 a.m. we faced a decision few parents must. “He’s going to die soon – I’m sorry,” concluded the chief neurosurgeon. “What do you want to do?” What would you do if your seven-year-old suffered a mysterious brain hemorrhage, and was not expected to survive emergency surgery? This is the story of Ben’s extraordinary spirit and resolve, a tale of triumphant woe.

  DSCF9654About The Author: Katherine, Ben’s mom, joyfully juggles four part-time jobs:public speaker, freelance reporter, English school administrator, and facilitator of a reminiscence writing class.

Ben, wearing his smiley-face ankle-foot orthosis, works for a children’s museum. He joyfully juggles one-handed, inspiring people of all ages. Ben regularly adds to his vast repertoire of global greetings to achieve his stated goal: MAKE HUMANITY SMILE.  

For more on Ben, please see links to Madison Magazine, November 2012 and Wisconsin State Journal, December 5, 2011 at:

If you would like to contact Ben directly, he now has email. Actually, he had it for months, but in true Ben Fashion…”Mom, I wanted to keep it a secret from you until I had 1,000 followers!”


Photos and text copyright 2013. All rights reserved.


  1. Leigh Barczi

    Congrats on making this a reality. I smile every time we run into Ben–he sure has made lemonade out of lemons! I remember those days way back in Jan 96–to see God’s grace unfold has been a gift.
    Leigh B

  2. I am very excited about the book. Will there be an ebook version?

  3. Jean Jolin

    Congratulations, Kathy, I will look forward to reading your story.

    • Thank you! I hope it passes muster – you were one of my favorite teachers.

  4. Ben Perreth

    Full of joy. Can’t wait to sign copies of your book, my mother of mine. Well done!

  5. Barbara Powless

    I began reading your book yesterday at 10am; 12 hours later, I turned the last page. I slept with you cradled within my heart. Thank you so much for sharing you with me! I am beyond words … full in heart with love, hope, and Everest-high respect and appreciation of you and honored to know your family on a deeper level. Love you SO hard!

  6. Barbara wins the 2013 Marathon Reader First Prize!! Thanks so much, my friend!

  7. Laura

    Will you be doing any other book signing anywhere in the madison area anytime soon?

    • Thanks for asking, Laura. Yes!
      Walbridge School Fundraiser, Thursday, May 9, 5-8:30 p.m. (open house style); Holiday Inn 1109 Fourier Dr. – (all proceeds to the school)
      Downtown Senior Center on Mifflin St. Tuesday, May 21 at 10:00 a.m.
      Creating For Causes (art fair), Saturday, June 29, Prairie Cafe Plaza, 9a.m -3 p.m., 6720 Frank Lloyd Wright Ave. (in Middleton Hills area of Middleton) – (a percentage of proceeds donated to Yahara House)

      I hope to be speaking at area libraries, book clubs, and other organizations this summer and next fall. Nothing firm yet.

  8. Inspiring Story.. Being a parent who once was in a similar situation with my son – a bit older but diagnosed with cancer – which also turned out sucessfully after a two year period, it is nice to see how those hard times can be easily forgotten by looking at their smiley faces…I will try to get a copy of the book down here in Brazil….

    • I’m glad to hear things turned out well for your son. It’s my understanding that you can get the book via amazon.brazil, either paperback or kindle. If you have a different e-reader, is the way to go. Thanks for your support, Robert!

  9. Carol Klukaczewski

    Katherine, I just finished your book and was blown away by your unflinching honesty in describing what happened to Ben and how you and your entire family rode (and continue to ride) the rollercoaster of challenge, growth , and uncertainty. Ben sounds like an amazing young man, full of spirit and love. Wonder where he got that from? At the end of the day, that is what is staying with me- all of that love that shined a light in some of the darkest days possible.

    I was one of the moms who chaperoned that band trip to London in January, 2011. I remember that you gave us each a little bundle of lavender from your garden. That means even more to me now as I realize what good wishes and healing that represents to you. And, I wish the same for you,too. May Ben continue to thrive and bring joy and may all of you know “normal” days of laughter, companionship, and peace.

    • Thank you Carol! Your very kind words are much appreciated.

  10. Kay Dellabella

    Dear Mrs.Perreth,
    I am reading your beautiful book, Making Lemonade With Ben:The Audacity to Cope. God Bless you and your family. Thank you for this book, your journey with Fantabulous Ben and everyone of whom you write.
    I feel connected for many reasons, some medical, though mainly emotional.
    On page 223, where you reference ” Bobby Z’s prayerful Forever Young” I realized I now needed to contact you.
    I had intended to wait until I finished your powerful book. Since age 10, I have listened to Robert Zimmerman’s music. I do find his work inspiring.
    I was born in Wisconsin, moved away at age 6. Even into my late teens my family visited relatives in both WI and IL each summer. My last trip there was in 2006, this is when my sister Candace and I took our grandparents’ ashes to their burial site in Columbus, WI.
    Site references are important – I have relatives in Madison, then south to Galena, IL, and east to Barrington.
    Medical issues relate to my experiences with anti-seizure meds, a brain tumor, brain surgery and radiation therapy.
    I will not bore you with further details of medical CRAPP (Chronic Really Absurd Physical Problems).
    I am grateful for your writing, though far more grateful for your strength, courage, faith, persistence, and sense of humor.
    God knew to whom to gift Ben, to you, Dan, Sam, and Sarah.
    If I come across as presumptuous, please do throw something at me, perhaps you may wish to yell at me,
    I wish no harm.
    Just wanted to thank you and let you know there is a connection I perceive.
    Yes, I cried while reading, very likely will cry more as I read .
    When I was able to work, I was an educator, utilized Art Therapy with some of my students. I am a visual artist.
    Good vibes for a better planet through the work of people such as you.
    With Peace,
    Kay Dellabella

    • Thank you for posting your wonderful words, Kay. Every time I start getting nervy – along the lines of – What was I thinking, putting myself out there like that? -encouragement comes from someone who takes the time to contact me. Thanks for holding my hand from afar. We really are all in this together. Huge virtual hugs coming your way! Katherine

  11. Jackie Beilfuss

    Dear Katherine, I met your son Ben yesterday while visiting the Children’s Museum with my 2nd grade class. He was supervising small groups of my students on and off of the “hamster wheel” when he unexpectedly said to me, “Okay, now it’s our turn!” I tried to get out of it with many differerent excuses and finally said,”I really can’t, I have a bad knee.” Ben quickly pulled up his pants leg, showed me his leg and said, “C’mon, let’s go.” So I walked around the hamster wheel to the delight of my class, with Ben holding my hand the whole way. When we got off, he told my students that you had written a book about him (perfect because we are studying biographies) and explained the title. I ordered it today and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. Please say hello to Ben for me. I feel so lucky to have met him!
    Sincerely, Jackie Beilfuss

    • Thank you for contacting me, Jackie. That’s our Ben! I am glad that you and your class enjoyed your time at the Madison Children’s Museum – one of the best spots on the planet.

  12. lori

    My son and I just had the opportunity to meet Ben at the children’s museum. What a delightful young man. We are looking forward to reading the book.

  13. Tom Kobinsky

    Absolutely enjoyed Katherine and Ben’s unique presentation for Middleton-Cross Plains Area School Dist staff on Aug. 28. The book is on my must-read list! Tom Kobinsky

    • Thanks, Tom. A month later, we still have that standing O reverberating through our heads. One of the most precious times of my life, that’s for certain!


    This is for Ben, who I tried to find on facebook (with no luck):
    This is Katie, who you met cheering at the Ironman with my family a couple of days ago. You challenged me to figure out how old I am in months! I just thought it was so awesome that you were out cheering on the people who inspire you and wanted to let you know that that inspired me. I didn’t get to share with you that I am in school studying genetic counseling and that I work with people who have developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, and/or mental illnesses. Hearing you talk about your job and your hobbies and your family was a reminder to me about how much people can achieve if they have support and love. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Thanks for this message for Ben, Katie! I will certainly pass it on. He doesn’t have fb, but the book does: Making Lemonade With Ben. We also are available for speaking – having a blast as a mother-son duo. I hope you get a chance to see him in action at the Madison Children’s Museum.

    • Hi Katie, Ben has an email: In fact, he has had one for some time but kept it secret from me until he had 1,000 followers. He wanted it to be a surprise :) You may also want to see him in speaking action; the website now has an 8 minute video, part of our speech to 900 in August. Happy Thanksgiving!


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