Having a disability doesn’t have to limit anyone from achieving their dreams. For student Jay Spencer of St. John Paul II High School, it propelled him forward in the most incredible of ways.
Spencer has been blind since he was a child, when he was diagnosed with Leber congenital amaurosis 10 at the early age of 3.
But while his vision is limited to just the corner of his left eye, it hasn’t stopped him from living his dream.
Despite being legally blind, Jay Spencer just advanced to the Alabama high school wrestling state finals!!
— Charity Chambers (@CharityCSports) February 15, 2019
He’s been a wrestler since he was around 5 or 6 years old. And while it has its challenges, Spencer finds ways to work around them.
“It does have some challenges, but I can ask coach, ‘Can you practice that one with me?’ or say ‘Let me work it on you and correct me if it’s wrong’; nothing that things like that can’t fix,” Spencer explained.
Spencer’s coach James Dowd is just as impressed with Spencer, telling AL.com “He proved me wrong wrestling against him. As his coach, I’ve seen his work ethic. He’s made it work. It is a touch sport. It’s right in his wheelhouse. You don’t have to see to wrestle.”
Spencer works hard to learn his wrestling moves and puts forth the dedication needed to make it happen on the mat.
“He knows that he has to put in extra work. He won’t admit it, but he’s behind the power curve, because it’s not easy to show him moves,” Dowd said. “You don’t show him anything, everything is a feel for him.”
Because of this added work ethic, Spencer has achieved an honor that no one in St. John Paul II High School has ever earned before.
On Saturday, the wrestler became the first to win a state title for the school.
?WATCH: High school senior Jay Spencer, who is legally blind, WON A WRESTLING STATE TITLE TODAY!! ?
— Charity Chambers (@CharityCSports) February 16, 2019
This has turned the heads of many Division II and III schools that are interested in having Spencer wrestle for their team.
But Spencer is unsure of his academic future at this moment. One thing he is preparing for, however, is his ability to see again one day.
A gene-editing procedure has been developed that could cure his LCA 10. The gene-editing process takes out the mutated gene and helps to improve vision over time.
While still in clinical trials, Spencer is in phase two of the program but was waiting until after the state championships to undergo surgery.
“I’m still just kind of waiting anxiously,” Spencer told AL.com. “because I’m not sure when I’ll hear back from them saying, ‘Yes, we’re going to go ahead start with the trial.’
“That could this week or that could be two months from now. I guess my emotions haven’t really changed (from first hearing about the potential cure), but I am still excited and hopeful.”
A congratulations is in order for Spencer on his big win and for showing others that nothing can limit your dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.