When Jake was 8 months old, he was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer. The disease claimed his left eye before the tender age of one and in November 2009, Jake lost his right eye after battling the cancer for 12 years. Jake confronted many challenges during his battle and has used his experience to better himself as a person and develop a strong faith in God. Jake wrote a book when he was 8 years old to uplift and encourage other children who were battling cancer and other diseases. Jake has shared his book and faith with countless others, including both adults and children that have been touched by his story. Despite this adversity, Jake remains one of the most optimistic and inspiring individuals you will meet. Jake is also a life-long USC football fan. He had the opportunity to meet the entire coaching staff and team as well as spend precious moments with them leading up to his surgery and the weeks that followed. Meeting Coach Carroll and the team was a special experience not only for Jake, but the Trojans as well. Jake leaned heavily on these relationships during some of his most trying times, and a few have become very special friendships. During the Trojan season and leading up to Jake’s surgery, ESPN’s Shelly Smith captured his story along side the Trojans. Aired on ESPN, Good Morning America, and ABC’s Evening News, the short documentary has won an ESPY award. Jake has also appeared as a guest commentator on ESPN’s College Game Day. Jake’s recent fame has given him the opportunity to speak about his experiences and faith in front of corporations, schools, service organizations and congregations. Jake had a busy 2010 with speaking engagements for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, The American Cancer Society, Dick Vitale’s 5th Annual V Foundation for Cancer Research, and Melaleuca’s National Convention. During the summer, he accompanied his twin sister Emma on a mission to Costa Rica to help build houses and encourage less-advantaged children. Jake attends Huntington Christian School and continues to maintain straight A’s despite his blindness. He also plays on the school football team, enjoys golf, skiing, surfing and playing the guitar. Ignoring conventional boundaries, he has set a personal goal to become the first blind golfer to play in the PGA. Jake’s faith and attitude are an indelible source of inspiration to all those he touches, and his belief in making the most out of life continues to motivate those around him.
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