Ask Ben Harris what his favorite book is, and he’ll quickly respond “A Christmas Carol.” Having read it five or six times, the ORIX USA Leveraged Finance Director says it’s also a family tradition to watch the holiday classic each year.
“It’s an important reminder to stay grounded and not get too carried away with how much your time is worth,” Ben says.
This mindset stays with Ben throughout the year and leads him to give his time to organizations like Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization. In November, he’ll run the New York City Marathon to raise money for the nonprofit.
While the rugby player says he’s not built like a typical runner, that hasn’t derailed his goals—in fact, the New York City Marathon will be his third. “I find it helps me clear my mind and prioritize what I’m doing,” Ben says. “There’s a strong health and wellness impact on me—it’s more than just calories burned.”
And it turns out, health and wellness are topics Ben has become passionate about, especially after learning that the child of a family friend has autism. Currently affecting 1 in 68 births in the U.S., autism is on the rise, with some scientific evidence pointing to a gut-brain connection in children with autism. Add to the mix the fact that diabetes and childhood obesity are also on the rise, and you’ll see why Ben has become spirited in his quest for knowledge on these topics.
“I was shocked by the data and why this isn’t being talked about more,” Ben says. “I started reading and decided to help out by raising money for research and education.”
Another way Ben is making an impact: by lending his financial expertise to aspiring health-focused entrepreneurs whose missions resonate with him. Acting as a mentor, Ben helps guide these ambitious University of Chicago Booth School of Business graduates on activities like putting together an investor slide deck and creating a business plan. “I’m hoping to use some of my knowledge to make a bigger change for society,” he says.
One reason health is top of mind for Ben and his wife, Ashley? Not only does the pair have a young son, Hudson, but they’re also expecting a baby girl due Jan. 3. Besides spending time with his family, Ben also manages to squeeze in rugby, theater and travel when he’s not busy training for his next marathon. (Want to help him out? Visit his fundraising page here.)
You can bet that whether it’s the holiday season or smack dab in the middle of summer, Ben will be hard at work fulfilling his goal of giving back to the world. “Mankind is bigger than just ourselves,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be the holidays for you to give back in whatever form you’d like—and often, our time is more valuable than our money.”