Benjamin Borowiak was born on December 7, 1981, in Detroit, MI, to Thomas and Rosann Borowiak. The oldest of three siblings, Ben enjoyed a happy childhood filled with laughter, hockey, and music. Ben’s love for music came to full bloom when he joined the music program at De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren, MI.
As a freshman at University of Detroit Mercy, Ben was hit by a drunk driver who was driving the wrong way on westbound I-696. Ben shattered bones and had some scarring on his brain, but his recovery was remarkable and inspiring to everyone around him. In between physical therapy sessions to learn to walk again, Ben picked up any instrument he could get his hands on to pass the time. He entertained himself, and everyone around him, with his music. During his recovery, Ben was the rock for friends and family, and remained upbeat and optimistic for the future.
Perhaps it was Ben’s traumatic experience, maybe it was just his fun-loving disposition, but Ben lived every day to its fullest. His positive attitude and happy demeanor were infectious. Ben was the type of person that everyone wanted to be around because he was a great listener, very thoughtful, and knew how to cheer you up, no matter how bad of a mood you were in. Ben never passed up an opportunity to be around his friends. Ben was so social, it sometimes seemed like he was in two or three places at once. If you planned a night out, even if no one else showed up, you could count on Ben to be there.
Ben had an ability to make anyone feel special – because, in fact, to Ben everyone was special. Somehow, in between being an excellent student, colleague, friend, and family member, Ben gave so much time to local charities. On his days off, Ben devoted time to Focus Hope, Habitat for Humanity, Selma’s Home, Angel’s Night, Blight Busters, and a number of other charitable organizations. The only thing Ben loved more than helping friends was helping strangers.
And then, of course, there was Ben’s music. His bands mates agree that they have never met another musician quite like Ben. His vision was remarkable and his ability to play any instrument you put in front of him was uncanny. Ben was such a joy to play music with, he was often in 3-5 bands at once. He played with the Press Club, Karenin’s Smile, the Much too Much, Oh! Six Tigers, the Brobots, Speck Mountain, and the Spitting Nickels, among countless others. He also loved playing music with friends and could make anyone sound like a seasoned musician. He was known to say, “Just press these keys on the keyboard. You’ll be fine.” Then, as the novice musician mashed away at a few keys, Ben would play elaborate harmonies and drum beats to make everything blend together into beautiful music.
After his accident, Ben learned that the scarring on his brain had caused him to develop epilepsy. Even though Ben had seizures occasionally, he never let it get in the way of life. He continued to work, play music, give his time to those in need, and make time for his friends.
In March of 2011, Ben passed away due to a complication resulting from an epileptic seizure. Over 10 years after it happened, the accident that allowed Ben’s remarkable character to shine, claimed his life. Ben’s friends, family, and the Detroit music scene were devastated by the loss.
A few of Ben’s family members and closest friends decided to organize a concert to celebrate Ben’s life, with the proceeds going to the music program at De La Salle Collegiate High School, where Ben had fallen in love with music. Over 300 people came to the event, called the Bennyfit, which raised roughly $7,000.
Because of the success of the Bennyfit and the outpouring of support from the music community, Ben’s family and friends decided to start a charity organization that married Ben’s two loves: music and philanthropy. Thus, Ben’s Encore was born.
Ben’s Encore hosts a “Bennyfit” every year and holds multiple events, giving opportunities for local musicians to perform. The organization has grown into much more than an annual fundraising concert, providing educational workshops and building instruments with thousands of kids in metro Detroit and offering music-related grants. Ben’s friends and family are happily honoring his legacy by simply doing what he would have done if he was still with us today.