A TRUE HERO: Minn. boy's report honors fallen Army Ranger - KMSP-TV

A TRUE HERO: Minn. boy's report honors fallen Army Ranger

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Many Minnesota kids might say their mother, their father or maybe Joe Mauer is their hero, but one 10-year-old who was so moved by a presentation a veteran's mother gave told Fox 9 News he found a new one.

Jill Stephenson loves talking about her son, Ben Kopp, and she'll do it any time, any day.

"Ben is no longer physically here, but talking about him with people keeps his spirit alive and it makes it feel like he's not gone," she explained.

Kopp, an Army ranger, died in Afghanistan nearly 5 years ago. Since his death, his mother has spoken with hundreds of adults about her son's sacrifice -- but last November, she gave her first presentation to a group of children.

"I spoke about Ben as if he was present to give them an idea what it was like for Ben to be a kid," she recalled.

Stephenson was asked to speak to a group of Cub Scouts, with the group of kids ranging from kindergartners to fourth-grade students -- and her presentation left a lasting impression on Patrick Reimann.

"My hero is Ben Kopp," he told his class.

When Reimann's teacher asked the class to write a report about their hero, he didn't hesitate on his choice.

"He's my hero because he's brave, admirable and courageous," Reimann said. "While he was in Afghanistan, he saved two other Army rangers' lives. He gave his life by jumping in front of them while they were being shot at by terrorists."

Stephenson didn't know Reimann had written it, but even once she had read it herself, hearing Reimann read it aloud had her choked up.

"Next, he gave his heart and organs to an organization so others could be healthy," he continued. "In my mind, Ben Kopp was a nice guy who lived a full life. He is a hero in my mind."

Now, Reimann says he has found a role model and he hopes to be like Kopp as he grows up.

"I kind of want to be in the Army when I grow up so it gave me perspective," he said.

As for Stephenson, watching a 10-year-old student tell his class why her son is his hero had her welling up with "motherly pride."

"It made me feel blessed again to be Ben's mom," she said. "It really impressed me that Ben's spirit is living on and continues to have a positive effect, not just on the world but children."

Stephenson said that if Ben were alive today, she knows he would give Reimann " a big hug and a high five."

"He would think that was really cool that a kid that age saw him in that light," she said.

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