Ben Dunkle

Ben was a key inspiration behind the formation Secure Base which came into being as he lay in a coma following an accidental overdose from which he died on 18th October 2012. He was then 20 years old.

Ben had a particular way of viewing the world and all who he encountered in it. He had a different, more intense, way of seeing things which was often overwhelming. He found an outlet for that intensity in his passion for photography. His passion and intensity shines through in so many of the photographs he took.

Ben left a lasting impression on everyone he met and his impact continues to echo strongly to this day in the hearts and minds of many who he encountered. Those who spent time with Ben, and particularly those he met in the various addiction treatment facilities he attended in the last months of his life, invariably use the same words when talking about him – calming, caring, compassionate, funny, generous and strong.

Despite his own struggles, Ben was, and is, an inspiration to many. His inspiration continues in the crucial work undertaken by The Solace Foundation of Orange County in combating the opioid epidemic currently sweeping the world. Ben’s death also directly prompted the creation of Secure Base whose work is a continuing echo of his too short life.

To date Solace OC is able to report 29 overdose reversals, 29 people are living today because of Ben. In one of Solace OC’s recent training sessions, run by Ben’s mother Aimée, one of the young attendees broke down and began to cry. He told Aimée that he had known her son and had been in the same treatment facility as Ben at the time of his death. He said that everyone at the facility loved Ben and the way he would make people laugh during meetings; how everyone was devastated that someone so special could have died, and how many in the facility who were contemplating leaving stayed in treatment directly because of him.

These young people and the positive choices they made as a result of Ben’s life, and death, are our original echoes.