When Jack Olson was 8 months old, he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina. This diagnosis would later cause him to go blind by the age of 12, a setback that he’s turned into an inspiring story.
When Olson was just 10 months old, he had his left eye removed. By age 12, both eyes had to be removed. “I found out I was going to go blind on October 1," Olson, now 21, told CNN (https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/04/health/vital-signs-football-jake-olson-eye-tumor-retinoblastoma-blind/index.html). "November 12 was my surgery, so there's a month and a half there of knowing I'm going to go blind. And that thought tormented me."
During his last days of having vision, Olson said all he wanted to do was watch the USC football team, and he was welcomed with open arms by Coach Pete Carroll. Olson called it “liberating” that he was able to take his mind off losing his sight while on the sidelines of the football field; a field that he would someday play on himself.
“Once I went blind, it was almost this kind of realization of, 'OK, I'm blind,' " he explained. "'There's no way of reversing it. It is my life. I don't have to worry about going blind anymore, because I am blind. Now let's deal with it. Let's focus on living my normal life.' I was determined to not let it stop me."
After starting on his high school varsity football team during his junior and senior years, Olson joined the USC football team as a long snapper when he was a freshman. Although he has to work harder than his teammates to overcome his disability, his roommate and manager Danielle Hennes said, "To be honest, I've really only seen him get down once or twice.”
Olson’s inspirational story has many more chapters to come. "I think that sports have given me a platform ... so I could prove myself to others," he said. “I can go out there and have a place where I can show others that yes, I'm blind, but that doesn't mean I don't belong out here or that doesn't mean I can't perform out here."
On September 2, during a game against Western Michigan, Olson proved that by executing a snap. The crowd and his teammates went wild, causing him to become a viral story that will serve as inspiration for years to come.
Take a look at these products that are currently improving the lives of people who are blind or have low vision.