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Everyone Needs a Role Model - Jake Olson

By Cindy Camp

Jake Olson smiling and wearing a football uniform on the field.

Children often hear the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” They may respond by sharing their goals of wanting to become an astronaut, rock star, princess, or president. While these professions are unlikely outcomes for most children, we try not to discourage their dreams. Do we offer the same level of encouragement to students with disabilities? We should. There are many role models for these students who show us anything is possible.

Jake Olson was born with retinoblastoma, a type of cancer affecting the retina. At the age of twelve, he learned that both his eyes would be removed. His wish was to see his beloved USC Trojans play one last time before the surgery. When head coach Pete Carroll heard this, he not only made Jake’s wish a reality, he made Jake an honorary member of the team.

Most people would say that a blind person can’t play football. But Jake didn’t let that stop him. He made his high school football team and walked on for USC’s team in 2015, exchanging his honorary status to become a full team member. On September 2, 2017, USC hosted Western Michigan, and sophomore Jake Olson got the opportunity to snap the ball in a game, proving that dreams can come true.

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Tags: educators, parents, blindness