Nobody plans on going blind. At the age of 19 and attending San Diego State University, it certainly wasn’t on Jeremy Poincenot’s agenda. However, nature had other plans, and after 19 years of perfect vision his eyes started to fail him. After numerous optometrists misdiagnosed him with various conditions, Poincenot was finally informed that he had an incredibly rare genetic condition known as Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. He was legally blind, without any central vision. He couldn’t read, or drive, or play golf, a passion of his.
Poincenot was devastated. His entire world seemed like it was crashing to pieces around him. He spent hours upon hours during the day sleeping, or just lying on the couch. He didn’t know what to do with himself. He didn’t think he could continue with school, or with golfing.
One day, he was listening to the TV, and he heard a news report about a plane that had crashed nearby. 4 people were killed in the crash, and the husband and father some of them was pleading the newscaster, and the viewers, to give him any sort of advice regarding how to survive this situation.
For Poincenot this tragedy was a much needed wakeup call. He realized that instead of moping around the house, he should be looking for any sort of help or direction towards living his life with his blindness. He started thinking about what he might be able to do even though he had no central vision.
Returning to school and golf seemed impossible to him, but his best friend Josh convinced him to return to college and just take two easy classes: Intro to Music and Intro to Film. Without Josh, Poincenot doesn’t think he would’ve made it through school, his best friend was there for him whenever he needed help.
Alongside his return to college, Poincenot’s mother helped him discover the United States Blind Golf Association. In fact, his mother helped him through much of the struggles he dealt with at the beginning of his blindness.
“I wanted to give up, I wanted to throw in the towel…but for me it was my mom [who helped me]” said Poincenot.
At first he thought the USBGA was a joke that his mother was trying to use to cheer him up, but he soon learned that it was a real organization, and that he might just have a chance to continue his golf career, something he never thought he would be able to do.
Between returning to college and returning to the golfing world, Poincenot learned one particular lesson that he now travels the country imparting to other young people. That message is that friends and family can be what defines a person’s ability to escape difficult situations. Without his mother, his father, his friend Josh, and many others, Poincenot makes it clear he’s not sure how he would have survived the first steps through his blindness.
Now working as an inspiration speaker as well as a golfer, Poincenot has learned other important lessons that he does his best to teach to his listeners.
“[You] determine [your] own happiness” said Poincenot.
Friends and family facilitate recovery and happiness, but if an individual does not want to be happy, or to survive difficult times, then the support of friends and family can only do so much.
The final thoughts Poincenot leaves his audiences are these. First, everyone should try their best to focus on the good in the world. Negativity does not serve any good purpose, and just brings people down. Second, people should be kind to every person they meet. They have no way of knowing what that person might be going through, and just a small amount of kindness might make a massive impact on their life. Third, people shouldn’t think so much about themselves. If Poincenot’s family or friends had been selfish, and hadn’t worried about him, he wouldn’t necessarily be where he is today, and the same is true for many other people. Just a small amount of consideration for other people can make a world of difference.