Ben Shoemaker, alumnus, Service/Front Desk Associate at Dallas/Plano Marriot
The irony here is that Shoemaker probably should not have made it this far.
“I was either supposed to be paralyzed for life or dead. That’s what the doctor said at the time of my birth,” he said.
Shoemaker has cerebral palsy. In his life, there have been numerable helping hands starting with his parents, educators, doctors and friends that have assisted him along the way.
“I want to thank them by showing them how capable I am,” Shoemaker said.
He wanted to be a paramedic, but his physical limitations due to the cerebral palsy warranted a different route toward his goal. He chose hospitality and hotel management, and when he graduated from Plano West High School, he chose Collin College’s Institute for Hospitality and Culinary Education at the Preston Ridge Campus.
Service With A Smile
Shoemaker currently is an At Your Service/Front Desk Associate at Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center, where he’s been for five years while taking classes at Collin College. He was interested in an internship. Dallas-Plano Marriott instead hired him. He works the front desk in addition to handling client phone calls for room service, shuttles, a broken air conditioner or any other problem. He gets 50-60 calls a day from the 404 rooms at the property.
He’s twice been nominated for the Hotel Association of North Texas’ Hospy award for “Front Office/Guest Services Person of the Year.”
Shoemaker seems to brush off such accolades. Instead, he perks up when discussing the real, personal feedback he might receive from a client. Located near The Shops at Legacy and the adjacent corporate row, Dallas-Plano Marriott hosts innumerable business meetings, conferences and clients.
“Here, especially, we handle huge groups like Hewlett Packard, Pepsico, Cadbury Schwepps – all of whom have written letters about me. Every time I hear my name, I know I’m giving back because they will return. Industry is about people – not a room or bed. Ninety percent of our business is people,” Shoemaker said.
Cerebral palsy is caused when the motor-control centers of the brain are damaged either in the womb, during birth or up until the age of three. It can limit movement and posture, affect sight and hearing, cognitive functions and more. There are more serious cases than others. And there is no cure.
Shoemaker will live with cerebral palsy for the rest of his life. There is a contentedness in his voice when he talks about cerebral palsy. He’s spoken to classrooms of students in hopes of helping other understand the ailment. Content, maybe. Complacent, no.
“I’ve had to endure a lot of very hard and trying times for the last 26 years. I’ve had 20 surgeries. I’ve spent a year, cumulatively, of my life in a hospital. I’ve been through a lot more than people double my age,” Shoemaker said.
Visit www.collin.edu/hospitality for more information about Collin College’s Institute for Hospitality and Culinary Education.