Kevin Kwoka is a public sector executive search consultant with Ralph Andersen & Associates and originally joined IVY in Chicago in 2016. Rob O’Keefe is in enterprise sales at DocuSign and joined IVY San Francisco in 2016. Patrick Gallagher works as IVY San Francisco’s Member Success Manager and joined IVY’s community team in 2017. They are all participants in the 10th Annual Cycling Under Reduced Eyesight (C.U.R.E.) Ride – a 4-day, 240-mile charity bike ride from Santa Barbara to San Diego – with their close friend, inspirational speaker, and international blind golf champion Jeremy Poincenot. Support the C.U.R.E. Ride by sharing their story, follow this year’s journey on Facebook, or contribute to their fundraising campaign here.
During his sophomore year of college, Jeremy Poincenot suddenly became legally blind over the course of 2 months. No warning. No time to prepare. His life began to blur. This is the story of why we ride, how Jeremy has inspired us to focus on the good and make an impact on others.
Jeremy’s Story & The C.U.R.E. Ride
After 2 months of endless tests, Jeremy was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), a genetically inherited disease that can lead to a loss of central vision. LHON happens to 1 in 50,000 people, and unfortunately, it currently has no treatment and no cure. At first, Jeremy thought losing his sight meant forfeiting his life. However, he discovered that every challenge creates an opportunity for growth. Since experiencing sudden vision loss, Jeremy has gone on to become a world blind golf champion…three times over. Most recently winning his 3rd International Blind Golf (IBG) Championship in Rome this October. If you’re curious about blind golf watch this video or check out Jeremy winning the IBG Championships for the first time in England in 2010.
After months of questioning his identity, and battling with depression, Jeremy now uses his story of turning trauma into triumph to inspire people to suspend judgment, focus on the good, and create interdependence as an inspirational speaker. All with the goal to show others how they can effect change and positivity in their lives. You can follow Jeremy’s inspiring work via his coaching and speaking website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Jeremy has also made it his life’s mission to raise awareness and find a cure for LHON. With the support of one of his best friends (C.U.R.E. Ride co-founder, Mark Prophet), he created the C.U.R.E. Ride taking place from October 18th-21st, 2018.
Our goal as riders is to help find a cure for LHON as soon as possible so that people like Jeremy’s mom, little sister, little brother and countless others who carry the LHON gene don’t have to live in fear of suddenly becoming legally blind. Over its history, the ride has raised over $250,000 to support research aimed at finding a cure for LHON. This year celebrates 10 years of riding for a cure and we’re hoping to raise $100,000 to support research at the Doheny Eye Institute, one of the world’s top vision science centers for studies on LHON. At the time of writing this article we’ve raised over $39,000, and all of us amateur cyclists are trying to remember what it’s like to ride a bike again.
The ride happens entirely because of the support of our friends and family like you. If you’d like to support us, please consider sharing the story of Jeremy, LHON and the CURE Ride and donating to our fundraising campaign. Your support would mean the world to Jeremy and all of us who participate.
Kevin, Rob, and Patrick’s C.U.R.E. Ride & IVY Story
Jeremy has been a tremendous source of friendship and inspiration for all of us over the years. It’s no wonder then, that all three of us independently discovered and got involved with the IVY community, to continue seeking inspiring communities and experiences.
Kevin Kwoka, Chicago
I met Jeremy when we both joined our college fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, in the Fall of 2007 at San Diego State University. My first impression of Jeremy was an easy-going guy, typical of a first-year college student. Over the years we became leaders at SDSU, taking executive leadership roles in many of the same organizations. It was amazing to grow alongside Jeremy throughout our college tenure. Jeremy is an inspiration to everyone he meets and he has a unique way of making people feel at ease. I once hosted Jeremy when he gave a speech to the University of Chicago IT Department in 2016 and witnessed the impact he had on 200+ strangers. I look forward to the C.U.R.E. Ride every year. I joined IVY to continue to expose myself to driven, motivated game-changers who are making our world a better place to live. The network of IVY members I’ve met have all been stellar!
Rob O’Keefe, SF
There’s a quote from a mentor of mine that I think about all the time, “You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to be there.” I think about that quote a lot when it comes to the things that are important to me. Being that Jeremy is one of my closest friends I couldn’t think of any better way to spend my time with 20+ friends than riding a bicycle down the California Coast. This year marks my 4th C.U.R.E. Ride. And it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. When I first moved to SF, I was looking for a network. A friend of mine who used to work at Ivy, Jess Frances reached out and invited me to an event. It was one of the more memorable evenings I’ve had in SF since. Hence, I’ve participated off and on for the past 2.5 years.
Patrick Gallagher, SF
I first met Jeremy during my freshman year of college on the back deck of our fraternity house at SDSU. We immediately bonded over philosophy, humor and the quest for meaning and purpose. We’ve since been exercise partners, storytelling collaborators, road trip warriors, and sources of support and perspective for each other over the last 8 years. Jeremy has inspired me to pursue work I love and launch my own leadership development and consulting practice. This will be my 5th year on the ride and is one of the most meaningful experiences I participate in. I joined IVY’s team after working as a leadership development consultant because the mission to connect people to inspiring ideas, experiences, and content is a direct extension of my personal mission! I’ve built relationships with incredible members, been exposed to life-changing experiences (ask me about Meklit’s Ethio-Jazz performance), and been introduced to inspiring ideas through our thought leader programs (shout outs to Dr. Larry Brilliant and Dr. Srini Pillay!).
If you’d like to follow the journey of Jeremy and all the CURE Riders, follow our Facebook page.