I had the opportunity to attend the Big West Rotaract Conference last October 11 and 12 in San Diego, California at the University of San Diego.  The USD Rotaract Club led the event that allowed attendees to enhance their relationships with other Rotaractors around the world.
 
Rotaract is a service club for young women and men ages 18 to 30 and is part of the larger Rotary family. The motto of Rotaract is “Fellowship Through Service,” which is often reflected in the various projects undertaken by Rotaract members throughout the world.
 
The Big West Rotaract Conference, also known as "WestCon," is an annual conference for Rotaractors and Rotarians on the west coast of the United States and Canada in Rotary Zones 25 and 26. This conference, created and presented by Rotaractors, is designed for Rotaractors to develop themselves through leadership workshops, fun fellowships, and on-site service projects.
 
The closing plenary session at Big West featured Jeremy Poincenot who shared his story of tragedy and triumph with the gathering of Rotaractors and Rotarians.  The video below is a recording of his inspirational story that was presented at his alma mater, San Diego State University.
 
 
 
Jeremy Poincenot
 
Jeremy describes the dramatic experience of shifting from a fully-sighted, happy-go-lucky college sophomore, to legally blind in his engaging presentation entitled, "My Life's a Blur."  While initially feeling depressed about his vision loss, Jeremy soon realized that he needed to focus on what remained possible, rather than dwell on what he had lost. Through his honest and moving account of learning to not only accept but embrace his blindness, Jeremy delivers memorable insights the audience can easily implement to become more resilient in the face of adversity. Hearing Jeremy speak will make everyone in the audience respond to life's obstacles in a different way.
 
When Jeremy Poincenot turned 19 in October, 2008, he was a typical San Diego State University sophomore.  He enjoyed college life, friends, his fraternity and sports, and had 20/20 vision.  Over the next few months Jeremy mysteriously lost his central vision first in one eye, then the other.  He can no longer read without extreme magnification, drive, nor distinguish faces. He was eventually diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) that left him legally blind.  LHON affects only about 100 people in the U.S. each year, and has no treatment and no cure.
 
At first Jeremy assumed that losing his vision meant losing the ability to play golf, the sport he’d loved all his life.  He soon learned that with a guide he can still play and compete.  In 2010 he shocked the field of 60 from 14 countries at the World Blind Golf Championships in England by winning with a dramatic chip-in on a playoff hole.  He has continued his success and is the U.S. National B-2 Blind Golf Champion.
 
Jeremy is striving to raise awareness of LHON, and to generate funds so that researchers can find a cure for this orphan disease.  His mom, sister and brother are at risk of blindness, making the mission intensely personal.
 
My Life's a Blur - 18:20
 
 
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