Jake is 16 years old, a resident of Huntington Beach, California and a 11th grade student. When Jake was 8 months old, he was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer, retinoblastoma. 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.
Jake is also a life-long University of Southern California football fan. He had the opportunity to meet the entire coaching staff and team, as well as spend precious moments with the team leading up to his surgery and the weeks that followed. Meeting Coach Carroll and the team was a special experience for both Jake and the Trojans. These relationships assisted Jake beyond measure during some of his most trying times and some of these relationships have grown into special friendships. During the Trojan season and leading up to Jake’s surgery, ESPN’s Shelly Smith captured his story along side the Trojan football team, his battle with cancer and his courage in a short documentary. The documentary has been aired on ESPN, Good Morning America, ABC’s Evening News and was nominated for an ESPY award. Jake was also a guest commentator on ESPN's College GameDay show for the January 1, 2010 New Years’ Day show.
With Jake’s recent fame, he has had the opportunity to speak about his experiences and faith in front of corporations, schools, service organizations and congregations. In January 2010, Jake was a showcased speaker, along side legendary coach Bobby Bowden, for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Event held in Irvine, California. Jake was also a keynote speaker at Dick Vitale’s 5th Annual V Foundation for Cancer Research Event held in Sarasota, Florida and has had several opportunities to speak for the benefit of The American Cancer Society. Last summer he and his twin sister Emma went to Costa Rica on a mission’s trip to help build houses and encourage less-advantaged children.
Jake was featured on the Fox Network in an exclusive story about his ability to overcome and succeed in the face of tremendous challenges. He has also appeared on the Katie Couric Show, Fox Sports West, and ESPN. And in November 2013, Jake was featured on ESPN's College GameDay, which he was featured for playing on his high school's football team as a long snapper.
Jake attends Orange Lutheran High School and has remained a straight A student even during his transition to blindness. Jake plays on the school football team as a long snapper. He also enjoys golf, skiing, surfing, and playing the guitar. Jake has set a personal goal to become the first blind golfer to join the PGA golf tour. Jake’s love for and dedication to the game of golf caught the attention of Travis Mathew golf clothing company. Jake and Travis Mathew have teamed up to develop a first of its kind “Braille” golf shirt, with messages scripted in Braille on shirts that offer golfers a smart, progressive look with a sizeable portion of the proceeds from every shirt sold going to Jake’s favorite charities. Jake has been added to the TravisMathew.com player team, joining PGA touring pro's John Mallinger, Bubba Watson, Tommy Armour, and others.
Jake loves to help and serve others. Jake is not afraid to challenge himself or challenge others and has personally raised his expectations for his own life. Jake's faith and attitude have been an inspiration to others, and his belief in making the most out of life continues to motivate those around him.