By
Jay Blake & Marissa Nasiatka

Our Interview with Jay Blake

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Image of Jay Blake. He is wearing a sports racing jacket that reads "Follow A Dream," which is blue, orange and white. He has a big smile and short brown hair. Jay is also blind. The background consists of trees with park scenery.

Jay Blake is the founder and president of Follow A Dream. Established in 1999, Follow A Dream is a non-profit 501(C)3 organization with the mission of demonstrating the “Power of Positive Thinking, Self-Determination, and Teamwork.” He is also the only totally blind crew chief in the worldwide sport of auto racing. Jay has more than 15 years experience as a professional auto mechanic and more than 25 years in drag racing

While working as the head mechanic of a transportation company in 1997, Jay was involved in an industrial accident that caused him to lose complete vision, smell and taste. At the age of 31, he was faced with relearning how to live as a completely blind person.

Refusing to give up on life, Jay aggressively participated in rehabilitation. After being released from Massachusetts General Hospital, he enrolled in an intensive program at The Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts. With renewed self-determination, Jay began to follow his dream: owning a professional auto-racing team.

He soon learned that even without his sight, he was still able to do what he loved most - work on racing engines. Turning his dream into a reality, Jay combined his renewed participation in drag racing with his desire to spread his true-life success by inspiring others, both with and without disabilities, to accomplish their goals through the power of positive thinking and self-determination.

Today, Jay is responsible for Follow A Dream organization’s management, operations and community outreach programs, as well as performing mechanical work on the race car. He leads his team of racing professionals in NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car competition, where they won the 2012 East Region championship and finished the season ranked 11th in national points. When Jay is not racing, Jay spends time at vocational schools all across the country, speaking to students, and spreading his message of inspiration. 

Interviewed by our Different & Able President and Founder, Alexandra Nicklas, Jay shares his personal experience of overcoming adversity, the story of how he achieved his dream of auto racing, and how he motivates others through his speaking engagements. He also discusses his “5 Tools for Life Success,” which are meant to encourage individuals to pursue their life goals with passion, self-determination and a positive attitude. Jay’s mantra is full of zeal and purpose. He states,  “I actually had a choice to live or die, and it was an amazing experience. And I chose to live, and the rest is history.”

 

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