March 8, 2019

by Brittany Alvarado

Jared Hara walks through the doors of SPECTRUM each weekday morning for his 8am workout.

He comes ready to give everything he has to offer- and he does.

It wasn’t until after a couple of months seeing Jared working out and being amazed by his incredible strength and commitment that I found out he was blind. I paused for a moment and thought to myself, “there’s no way!”.  I watched him navigate throughout the facility, go for intense runs and perform as if he was an Olympic athlete.

But it’s true: Jared is blind in both eyes after being diagnosed with leber hereditary optic neuropathy at the age of 11. Leber hereditary optic neuropathy, also known as LHON, is an inherited form of vision loss. Jared started losing his sight in one eye and then he gradually lost it in the other. 

Jared grew up similar to most other kids though, full of life, running around, and playing sports. Ice hockey was his true love.

“I was very big into sports,” Jared said. “I was always an active kid. When I lost my sight that all went out the window for me. Even just breaking a sweat, I would complain about it. I was uncomfortable.”

It wasn’t easy adapting to his new life of being blind, but Jared trekked on and found new passions in things like music. He picked up the guitar and learned very quickly. His musical talents then led to many other opportunities, like starting his own band and touring the world playing shows. However, Jared did admit that that lifestyle took a toll on his health and fitness.

“It’s pretty much reckless living and constant partying. There are a lot of bad habits.” 

While Jared enjoyed his life of music on the road, he realized that he needed to find more balance.

When his dad passed away of a heart attack in 2014, he turned to his passion for fitness. Jared said his dad helped him see what he was truly capable of, and was always pushing him to be aware of his appearance and physicality. 

“He was always trying to be helpful,” Jared said. 

After living out in California for a couple of years, Jared moved back to Orlando, where his mom found SPECTRUM Fitness. She signed him up for a free first session and there was no looking back after that.

“55 minutes into my hour session, I was throwing up. But that was when I knew I was hooked.”

Jared was being pushed out of his comfort zone and that is exactly what he wanted.

“I re-found athleticism here. I re-found my love of being uncomfortable. There’s nothing I love more that pushing through an hour workout, where you’re struggling mentally more than physically. There is just no better way to start your day.”

After years of feeling lost and unsure, Jared found a second home at SPECTRUM.

“SPECTRUM to me is part of my purpose. This isn’t my career, I don’t work here, but I do feel this sense of purpose when I come here. Purpose belonging to a community like this. Every aspect of coming here is community. I love it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Despite the obstacles life has thrown at Jared, you can always see him with a smile on his face- even if he’s smiling through a tough workout. He lives his life with generosity, love, commitment and enthusiasm.

He is always there for a meaningful conversation or some words of wisdom. In fact, you don’t even need to speak to him to be inspired. It all lies in his actions and shows in the work he puts in between these four walls.

Photography by Brittany Alvarado.

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