Jay Blake Barnstable-Yarmouth Lions Club, Massachusetts A terrible work accident blinded Blake. Then a trip with a friend to a drag-racing event changed his life again as he eventually became the owner and chief mechanic of a National Hot Rod Association race car team. Making a Life-and-Death Choice I was an automotive technician with a wife and kids. In 1997, I was working on a forklift when the wheel and tire assembly exploded. We never knew why. I was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital, and surgeons worked for over 10 hours to rebuild my face. I don’t remember any of it, but I do remember waking up inside something like a cloud. It was very bright and peaceful. A male voice said to me, “Do you want to stay, or do you want to go?” I replied, “I have two children; I have to go back.” I believe I was given a choice. I woke up in the hospital, and my brother was at my side. I had lost total sight, smell and taste. A New Road I received rehabilitation. There were bad days and good days. A buddy invited me to a drag race in 1998, because I had always loved it. When we arrived at the racetrack, my body came alive. I realized that even though I couldn’t see, I could still enjoy the sport. I decided that weekend I was going to find a way to start my own race team, and I did. Instinct Plus Experience Equals Success My true enjoyment is working with my hands. With my Permatex/Follow a Dream racing team, I physically work on the race car and our truck and trailer. It’s all a sense of touch and building the image inside my mind. I was sighted for 31 years, so I remember what things look like. I also “borrow” people’s eyes, ask what I’m looking at. Words to Live By I speak at Lions clubs, corporations, schools and many other venues. I talk about a positive attitude, education, passion, determination and teamwork—five tools to help you reach your goals and your dreams. I don’t like being blind, but we have to work through difficult challenges in life. Once not long after the accident, my little girl ran up and hugged my legs. She said, “Daddy, I am so glad you are alive, even though you are blind.” And ever since that moment, I knew I made the right choice in coming back. Do you know a Lion who you think has a great story or deserves a bit of recognition? Email us a brief description of the Lion and the reason you’re making the nomination to email@example.com. Please include “One of Us” in the subject line.
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