"If you aren't living on the edge then you are taking up too much space." Benjo
"Love the life you live, live the life you love." Bob Marley
The two quotes above exemplify Benjo's attitude toward life. First and foremost he was an adventerous individual to the extreme and was from the begining of his life. Always looking for a new adventure he pushed the envelop and the word fear was not part of his vocabulary. Additionally, he simply loved life, which he memorialized in his very last Facebook post on the morning of his death on August 1, 2014 - "I love my life." This was posted from the Bahamas several days after he had completed his childhood dream of sailing from Vermont to the Bahamas. Benjo's passion for life, adventures, sailing and skiing defined him; he had a zest for life that was infectous. Most importanly he realized he had been afforded opportunities that many other his age had not; therefore, he had a drive to help the less fortunate and he did. Because of Benjo's attitude toward life his sister, Dani, suggested we name the Foundation "Live Like Benjo." He didn't take up too much space and he certainly loved the life he lived. Regretably it was just too short.
To save lives, provide opportunities for the less fortunate to learn how to sail and honor Benjol are the reasons behind the founding of the Live Like Benjo Foundation. The way he lived his life is the reason we chose the name we did.
BENJAMIN CRAIG "BENJO" HALLER UNDERHILL CENTER - On Aug. 1, 2014, "The League of Adventurous Spirits" lost a future and guaranteed Hall-of-Famer. Benjamin Craig "Benjo" Haller, of Underhill Center, passed away at the much too early age of 27, while diving off the shores of Harbor Island in the Bahamas. Benjo was born in Pittsburg, Pa., on Feb. 6, 1987. He moved to Cambridge, Vt., with his parents and sister in 1991. In 1993, the family moved to Underhill Center and Benjo began his education at the Underhill Central School. From there he attended Brown's River Middle School, and graduated from Mount Mansfield Union High School (MMU) in 2005. During his senior year at MMU, Benjo was a member of the school's State Championship Alpine Ski Team. Additionally, from 1995 to 2005, he was a member of the Smuggler's Notch Alpine Ski Team, and during 2001-02 a member of the Brown's River Middle School Mountain Biking Club.
In the summer between his sixth and seventh grades, Benjo spent two weeks at Camp Abnaki on Lake Champlain, which is where he mastered the art of sailing beyond the basics and in very short order. Immediately following, he was enrolled in sailing lessons at The International Sailing Center in Mallets Bay. He went on to work there every summer until the beginning of this summer. During this time, he became an incredibly accomplished sailor, instructor, technician and boat repairman. The owner of the Center, Robin Doyle, became Benjo's very close friend, mentor and racing companion. Robin can be credited with forging Benjo's personal bond to the open water, being under full sail, and doing so with precision and the complete understanding of the natural elements. In 2002, the family acquired a damaged 30 foot O'Day sailboat, which Benjo fully restored over the course of the next several summers. He delighted in giving his friends moonlight cruises or teaching them how to sail on Momma Dance.
After graduation from high school, Benjo attended the Pro Dive SCUBA Training Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and became a certified SCUBA Instructor. Upon certification, he was immediately hired by the internationally acclaimed Stuart Cove's Dive Center in Nassau, Bahamas, and was the youngest instructor ever hired by the Center. After working at the Dive Center for a year, Benjo enrolled at the University of Colorado, Boulder; Alpine skiing was everywhere, but sailing was non-existent. Over the course of the next five years, he worked tirelessly to create The Boulder Sailing Club and to have it sanctioned and financially supported in part by the University. Using countless fundraising events, traveling throughout the west picking up donated sailboats and securing the rights to use the Boulder Reservoir, his dream came true. By the time he graduated with a degree in Film, the University was racing collegiately throughout the west.
At the age of 12, he set his mental sexton on sailing from Vermont to the Caribbean. In October 2013 he left Mallets Bay on Momma Dance, after a year of planning and charting his course, provisioning the boat, and lining up mates to meet him along the way. He made it to Norfolk in 21 days and left his boat there for the winter. In May of this year he flew to Norfolk, picked up Momma Dance, and four weeks ago he landed on Bimini Island in the Bahamas. His goal was to tour the Islands with his First Mate, Matt, and Buddy, his beloved dog. Ben's long ago dream came true! His next plan was to head to the southern Caribbean to work as a sailing and SCUBA instructor. His next adventure was tragically denied on Aug. 1, 2014.
With an infectious laugh, a diamond studded smile, the good looks of a movie star, and the zest to fill every single minute of his life with adventure and personal challenges, he became a magnet for those wanting to experience life as he defined it. When he was on the water, either liquid or frozen, he was in his element and the world was his oyster. Benjo is survived by his parents, Dean and Sandy; sister, Danielle "Dani"; surrogate brothers, Ben and Chris Frederick; his mentor, Robin Doyle; his first mate, Matt Pfieffer; and his best friend and soul mate, Buddy. A celebration of Benjo's life will be held at the International Sailing Center later this year. In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer a donation to the "Benjamin Haller International Sailing Center Memorial Scholarship" Fund (BHISCMS). Donations can be mailed to The International Sailing Center, 511 West Lakeshore Drive, Colchester, VT 05446.