Jake Olson is a remarkable guy. A walk-on long-snapper for the University of Southern California’s hallowed Trojans football team, an aspiring PGA golfer and an entrepreneur whose initial business concept was just invested in by the USC Marshall Venture Fund, Jake,by any measure, is leading an incredible life.
His accomplishments are even more astounding when one learns that Jake has been blind since he was 12.
Born with Retinoblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer that can present with “the Glow,” a yellow-white reflection in the pupil, Jake had both eyes enucleated when he was 12 to stop the progression of the disease.
Before the scheduled surgery, Jake told his parents that he wanted to see one final USC football game. The Trojans head coach at the time, Pete Carroll, now head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, made it happen. Since then, Jake has been a member of the USC family.
After his enucleation, Jake continued to stay active and dreamed of being the first blind golfer on the PGA tour. The video below is an interview with Jake when he was 14 years old, about his dream to become a golfer. In this video, Jake talks about his journey with cancer for the first 12 years of his life. Included are striking childhood photos where you can clearly see “the Glow” in his eyes, a symptom of Retinoblastoma.
But in high school, Jake found himself drawn to another sport: football. He trained hard to earn a spot on his high school team as a snapper. When he was accepted to USC it was a dream come true — he had been a member of the USC family for many years.
After he was accepted, he had a conversation with the athletic director of USC who offered Jake the chance to walk on to the Trojan football team as a long snapper. After years of bulking up and training, in September of 2017, Jake achieved his dream by snapping in the season opener against Western Michigan.
This past November, Jake walked onto the field for the last time.
His story is far from over — he is a well-known motivational speaker who has already written two books and will continue to grow the startup he co-founded, Engage™ .
Jake continues to inspire and encourage kids and families fighting Retinoblastoma and other eye-related issues. He is a great example of how kids who have had vision loss can go on to live joyful, happy lives. Thank you for all you do Jake!