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Fort Collins man with learning disabilities could lose therapy plants

Shannon White is worried her son Ben Richard could lose his therapy plants, after the local business housing the plants undergoes a remodeling.
Posted at 6:25 PM, Dec 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-20 20:25:35-05

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A Fort Collins man with learning disabilities houses his therapy plants at a local business. However, the business is undergoing a remodel, meaning he could lose his beloved foliage.

For the last 20 years, Ben Richard has taken care of several plants and coconut trees that he brought home from a family trip to Hawaii. Since then, the plants have grown, with some now over 20 feet tall.

The plants are therapeutic for Richard, who has severe learning impairments.

He was born three weeks late and suffered seizures after birth. His mother, Shannon White, said she was told by doctors he may never be able to sit up.

"He is a miracle baby," said White. "He died twice when he was born, and not only shouldn't be here but shouldn't be as high functioning as he is.”

Richard is now a "high-functioning" 43-year-old, White said, and works at a local Safeway. Every week, he visits his plants at the Ken Garff Ford Dealership in Fort Collins.

After 10 years at the dealership, the business is undergoing a remodel. Additionally, the plants have become too tall, meaning it's time for Richard to find the plants a new home.

"It's time to move on to a bigger place because I don't want to ruin their ceiling tile," said Richard.

Unfortunately, Richard and his mother are struggling to find a place that is capable of housing something as large as a coconut tree. Since the trees aren't native to Colorado, the plants can't be outdoors, but their size makes it difficult to maintain inside.

"I kind of worry where I'm gonna put them," said Richard.

White said they're trying to find a hotel or a business with enough space. But so far, it's been a draining process that's yielded no results.

“It's kind of hard to sleep," said Richard.

White and Richard say they fear the plants might be destroyed if they can't find a new home by the end of the month. If you would like to help, you can reach out to

Fort Collins man with learning disabilities could lose therapy plants

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