In January of 2017 at the age of 26, Zak Turner was diagnosed with Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), a very rare genetic disease which results in the rapid loss of the affected individual’s central vision. Over the course of the next 6 months, Zak went from fully-sighted to legally blind.
Despite being diagnosed with LHON, Zak remains the most active, positive and uplifting person I have had the privilege of meeting. Through his words and actions, Zak has made it his mission to take his adversity and turn it into an opportunity to encourage others to see the positive in their lives each and every day.
Zak lived an extremely active lifestyle prior to being diagnosed. He played football at Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, NJ and in college at Sacred Heart University.
Since losing his sight, Zak has not settled; he has adapted. On any given day, you can expect to see Zak sinking long puts on the green, trotting past runners in local 5k’s, and working out in the home gym he put together in his garage. If you haven’t already realized, Zak can’t sit still, and he’s not going to let anything get in his way, not even LHON.
In his search to remain active in competitive athletics, Zak joined The New Jersey Titans (one of the two official beep baseball teams for the State). Beep Baseball is a sport in which players are blindfolded. When up to bat, the athletes attempt to hit a "beeping" ball thrown by a sighted pitcher and when they make contact, run towards the bases relying solely on the “beeping” bases to guide them.
The NJ Titans are part of the National Beep Baseball League which consist of teams from all over the world that play this incredible and difficult sport. Zak and the NJ Titans travel all over the New York Metro-area to compete and went to the world championships in Eau Claire, Wisconsin this year.
Where we come in:
Hi! This is Jessica and Christine Nunziata and we will be running the 2018 NYC Marathon and have been training towards this for a year now. Running is an integral part of our lives and Zak Turner (our future brother-in-law) has always encouraged and pushed us to be the best athletes we can be. He registered both of us for a half marathon on our 21st birthday. And if that wasn't enough, he bought us another half marathon entry for Christmas the next year. This year, on November 4th, we'll be running 26.2 for him.
In support of Zak and The New Jersey Titans, we are fundraising for the team's registered non-profit: "New Jersey Titans Baseball Team Inc.". The team solely relies on outside funding to finance all that allows them to participate in the sport. Your donation will help them pay for their league fees, transportation to games, equipment, uniforms, etc.
We thank you for taking the time to learn about Zak and LHON, and we greatly appreciate your donations. We can all learn something from Zak’s unwavering positive attitude and from his life motto: “I lost my sight but have gained my Vision”.
Zak's inspirational speech: