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    • Please join me in welcoming athlete and founder of the Foreseeable Future Foundation Griffin Pinkow for a Cake Panel! Griffin will be joining us at 2 PM ET today, so we encourage you to ask your questions in advance of that time.

      About Griffin: I was a normal, happy 12 year old kid that loved to play sports. I played soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and baseball and to be honest, I was pretty good at most of them. I was playing with a travel baseball team I had earned a spot on when I first noticed something was wrong. I was having trouble seeing fly balls hit to me in the outfield. After seeing a handful of eye doctors and going through test after test, I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Before my diagnosis of RP, I thought I was someone who couldn’t see very well in the dark, but now I know it was related to a much bigger problem.As I finished up high school, I was finally realizing that I couldn’t change the fate of my vision. It was at that point that I started asking the question; how can I overcome my visual impairment? I am now 26, almost fully blind and learning to cope with my visual challenges. At first it was difficult to adapt, but after meeting visually impaired and blind people I realized that I couldn’t let this disease take over my life. Shortly after starting my freshman year at Susquehanna University I realized that there was a need to educate students on visual impairments and blindness. I started getting questions from teachers, friends and teammates that I didn’t know how to answer. Through a club on campus I started spreading the word through awareness events and realized there was a real need to build one community between the visually impaired and sighted. After graduating from Susquehanna I began to work towards this goal and started my own nonprofit, The Foreseeable Future Foundation.

      About the Foreseeable Future Foundation: I started the Foreseeable Future Foundation to help the visually impaired and blind right now instead of waiting 20 years for a cure. We aim to impact the lives of the visually impaired in their day to day lives and strive to help them reach their full potential. By integrating the sighted and visually impaired communities we break barriers and foster a healthy environment to start the conversation between these two communities. The Foreseeable Future Foundation's mission is to help the visually impaired with an emphasis on sports and recreation.

      Welcome Griffin!

    • So Griffin - thank you so much for joining us today! Can you tell us a bit about your story and what led you to create the Foreseeable Future Foundation?

    • Sure. So creating the Foreseeable Future Foundation was an interesting start. When I was in college, I found that a lot of people were asking me what my vision was, what I could and couldn’t see, because it wasn’t obvious, I didn’t have a cane or a dog, people not realizing that there’s a lot of gray area in-between with visual impairment. So through a club I was a part of on campus, we started doing awareness events throughout the year to bring awareness to that area, and to show that there are a variety of visual impairments, that there are people with these challenges, and these are ways to overcome them, and we started doing that my sophomore year of college, starting with just a walk, raising a decent amount of money. And then my senior year, we had 4-5 events throughout the year getting people actually interacting with activities you’d do on a day to day basis if you were visually impaired or blind. So for example, we’d have a challenge event where people would be blind folded and then playing mini golf or water polo.

      For the actual walk, our fundraiser, we’d have people put on a blindfold to simulate a different visual impairment, and get them in the shoes of the visually impaired. So that’s kind of where the idea started. And after I graduated from college, I saw there was a real need to help the visually impaired with the sports and recreation component. That a lot of kids and adults who are visually impaired are left out of sports, or P.E. class, and not really integrated. So seeing there was a need for that, how much I’ve gotten out of my own athletic career, I saw there was a need to do it, and we started it, and over the past few years, it’s grown really fast, and grown to do a lot to help the community I’m a part of. 

    • As an athlete, you’ve competed in the New York City, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia marathons, as well as competing in the cycling circuit at the national level and snowboarding. What is your training process like?

    • My training process is pretty intense for any competition. I don’t really run anymore, it’s easier on my body with just cycling. I’ve found that cycling is a bit easier on my body, but it’s still tough and intense. I train every day, sometimes twice a day. I weighed about 2-3 years ago 40-45 pounds more than I weigh now. Going to my first training camp for tandem cycling, one of the coaches asked me what I wanted to do, and I told him I wanted to compete at the national level and compete in Paralympics someday. And he told me “There’s 3 things you have to do. You have to get the right equipment, the right coach, and you have to lose weight.” And I said “Lose weight? What are you talking about?” And he said “You have to lose fat, but keep muscle.” So I did it, I started to go gluten and dairy free, and I lost about 40 pounds, and just the commitment of really wanting to do it and pursuing that goal, I had the ability, just needed to take the right steps. So that’s helped me get to where I am as an athlete. Also, it’s really kind of - you have to be focused and dedicated, which I am.

      Because most of my training is indoors, on a trainer - I have a bike plugged into a trainer (like Flywheel), an actual bike that’s plugged into a bike stand that’s a smart trainer, so I can do my workouts and simulate what it’s like on the road indoors. That’s how most athletes who have visual impairment or are blind are able to train. Most of your training is done indoors on a trainer, which can be hard and boring or lonely at times, but you have to do what you need to do to get your training in. It’s tough because if you’re a single rider, you can go out and ride your bike, but if you’re in my situation, you have your tandem, you have to make sure it works for another person’s schedule - there’s more logistics that go into it, especially if you have a full-time job. The easy part is just getting on a bike and training! 

    • Snowboarding is fun, and I really enjoy it. I did it when I had full vision, and doing with less vision was scary at first, but I was able to pick it up and get better at it. Just trying different things, I’m just an adrenaline junky, I like to be moving and doing things, whether it’s something I can really excel at, like cycling, or recreational, like snowboarding. I want to go skydiving. Activities or sports that are different than something I’ve done before, just moving and being active. There’s no real sport I want to just do. There are a few that I haven’t done that are adapted for the visually impaired, one is beep-baseball, I’ve experienced that at one of the camps we sponsored last year - going to these camps that we sponsor, I don’t just get to meet the kids or the directors, but sometimes they put me in the action as well! They’ll have me try to hit a ball off the tee, then run to the base. It’s out of my comfort zone, it’s difficult, but it’s the fun part of what I do. 

    • That’s a tough question. I don’t really have one or two I can really pinpoint. There are different examples of para athletes just competing at a national level, people you meet that want you to work harder and do better. But just enjoying sports, I have teams I like, but no one that who really inspired me specifically. It was more of the people on the para-side of athletics that I’ve met along the way, doing what I do now, I look up to them and want to be where they are now in the sport. 

    • The Foreseeable Future Foundation is unique in its focus on sports access for the visually impaired. Why do you think this issue wasn’t addressed by other nonprofits or organizations?

    • That’s a great question. There are a few other organizations that focus on people with disabilities as a whole, and they do great, incredible work. But it just wasn’t focused on the visually impaired, or there wasn’t as much put towards the visually impaired community. Once I did more research and found out in-depth, I think in the past 10 years a lot has been done for adapting sports for the visually impaired - which would have been great when I was a kid, when I started to lose my vision!

      I also think it’s something that’s either overlooked - whether it’s in schools, blind schools or the communities - and really, it comes down to funding. You want to get people moving and active in this community, and you have people who are great advocates and volunteers who want to do something, but it’s tough when it comes down to dollars or where they get funding. So there are a lot of people out there who want to do a program, or have some kids or people who could benefit from getting involved in sports and recreation, but don’t know where to turn to for funding. So that’s something we’re really filling a need for - an organization who’s focused on helping the visually impaired and blind community with the sports and recreation component, helping them fund their endeavors. It’s something that hasn’t been done specifically for that community. And I think there are so many people who get overlooked in this one category, and we’re able to help them. Over time, things are progressing, which is great, but we’re hoping to fill that gap. 

    • Since you created the Foreseeable Future Foundation in 2013, you’ve helped add sport, education and more to thousands of people’s lives who have visual impairment. How do you stay inspired day after day, year after year?

    • I have a personal connection to what we’re doing and our mission, how to really help the visually impaired and blind. So I think that’s a part of it, being in their shoes when I was younger, or having friends and people I know who are a part of the community, just giving them that opportunity, whether it’s something they want to pursue at a national or Paralympic level, or they just want to be more active and outgoing. That really keeps me going, wanting to help more people, because it is important to get them active and moving, but it can spread into any aspect of your life. And that’s the best, meeting someone we’ve supported. I think that’s what keeps me going, being able to help so many people around the country. 

    • Every one is my favorite, because they all have their own variation! But if I had to narrow it down to one or two, the gala we have every year is a blast because the board, the committee, everyone, is working year-round to get that up and running and successful. It’s a lot of fun to celebrate all the work we’re doing, and showcase the people we’re helping and supporting. So that has to be one of them. Another one is we’ve done a couple of happy hours where we have not just visually impaired individuals but anyone who wants to learn more about the organization, to learn more about what we're doing and how we’ve helping.

      Not everyone’s an athlete, so they may not want to participate in a sports or recreational event, but everyone seems to have a fun time at these events. And we did a Brunch in the Dark with Bluestone Lane coffee, and it was so much fun - it was an experience where it’s something you do on a daily basis without thinking about it, and at the end of the meal, you get to take off your blindfold, but the people sitting around you may not be able to reverse their visual impairment. The event was actually really light and fun for everyone there, but also very impactful for the overall mission, and to remind people why they’re there, and what they can do. 

    • There’s a few different ways. It could be as simple as seeing what we’re up to, what we’re doing and how we’re helping, our applicants and people that we support. Volunteering at any of the events we have throughout the year, or even just being a part of the community, in the sense that if you want to not just volunteer but do more for the organization, we’re always open to new members and people helping out where they can. And spreading the word, getting the message out there for more people, because you don’t know what you don’t know - and many people tell me they had no idea about this camp we support or activity we do, not just in New York but also around the country. 

    • I don’t play video games, haha! I like to be active and moving, so when I’m not working on the organization or training for a race, I like to do more recreational things, whether it be going on a hike, or going tubing down the river with family - anything that’s outdoors or moving I like to do for fun, besides hanging out with friends and family. I try to fit in as much as I can besides the two full-time jobs I have - between the organization and training! 

    • One, just some statistic on how many people who are visually impaired or blind who are sedentary or overweight: that statistic is pretty high. I believe it’s two times what the annual rate is for people living in the United States. And that’s something most people wouldn’t know, unless you’re in this field. And just how many visual impairments there are. You’re not just completely blind, there are things like legally blind, or partially-sighted, there’s a lot of in-betweens and different visual impairments and retinal degenerative diseases that someone could easily look up, but you may not know unless you have a connection to a person or friend or family member who has that disorder or disease. So educating oneself.

    • The best way to stay up to date with what we’re doing is my personal Facebook - I don’t use it enough, but I post stuff there, my races, where I’m going.

      For the Foundation, we have Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, where we constantly post what we’re doing or what the organization is up to.

      We also will post or share other articles or stories that relate to what we’re doing or other content in the field - which is a great way to learn about other things that are going on in the same arena. And we have a newsletter and website, all of which are great ways to stay up-to-date. will reach our team, and someone from the organization will be replying to that person, whomever wants to reach out directly.