Jay Blake, a blind car mechanic and motivational speaker, visited the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School last Wednesday at the invitation of the Martha’s Vineyard Rotary Club to speak to students about the struggles he has faced, how he overcame obstacles, and how to make the best of a bad situation.
Mr. Blake had been a car mechanic for the majority of his life. When the wheel of a forklift accidently exploded, he lost his sight, sense of smell, and taste.
Once Mr. Blake was released from Mass. General Hospital he knew that he didn’t want to let his accident stop him from pursuing his goals. He started the nonprofit organization, Follow A Dream, a motor team that travels and competes around the country, and he speaks at schools to share his story and inspire students.
Mr. Blake spreads his message with his trademark five tools for your life’s toolbox: a positive attitude, education, passion, self-determination, and the ability to work as a team member. His team wins races frequently, with his brother as the driver and Mr. Blake as the mechanic.
Students filled the Performing Arts Center to hear what he had to say. The presentation began with a video about the Follow a Dream organization. Then Mr. Blake told the audience his story, and described how he has grown from his experience. He said that after his accident, he thought his life as a mechanic was over. One day, his friends brought him to his first drag race after his accident, and the exhilaration he felt made him realize he wouldn’t give up his dream.
Mr. Blake also emphasized the importance of safety. “Accidents don’t discriminate,” he said, emphasizing that he never expected that something so dramatic could ever happen to him. Later, he spoke about teamwork.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, you are you. We all have differences and strengths, and when we work as a team, we bring together our strengths — and our weaknesses go away.”
Many of the students were clearly moved by Mr. Blake’s message, “Before the presentation started, we were told that this would change our lives,” freshman Michael Courtney said. “I thought it was some kind of way to catch our attention, but it really was true. It was really inspiring because it showed what abilities you have if you are passionate about it and try your best, and I know I can use this experience when I need motivation.”