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Joe Rinaldi | April 2022 Men In Motion

Joe wearing a black short sleeve Project Endure shirt while smiling at the camera while outdoors. 

Joe Rinaldi | April 2022 Men In Motion

Contents

Living with the prospect of going blind is anything but easy. But it’s created an excellent environment for me to grow. The consistent struggle and uncertainty that I deal with every single day has afforded me an opportunity to develop incredible perspective, find immense strength, and develop a deep drive to help others.

~Joe Rinaldi

Editor’s Note

I’m a great believer in there is always a way even when life’s situations can become bleak. It’s not so much that we can control our circumstance rather it’s our responses to our plights that can make or break us.

Today’s Man In Motion, Joe Rinaldi talks about how he found strength through struggle in the midst of sight loss. Coming from a place of hiding to thriving then sharing that message with others so that they too can thrive is what Joe does. Check out his powerful YouTube video included in this post and be sure to connect with him on his social media platforms. Below the view is the transcription for those who prefer to read. Enjoy! ~Steph

Beyond Sight Magazine Cover

Photo one: Joe is wearing a black short sleeve Project Endure shirt while smiling at the camera while outdoors. Text on the cover reads “Beyond Sight April 2022 | Men In Motion | Joe Rinaldi.”
photo one

YouTube Video

Grateful To Be Going Blind

My name is Joe Rinaldi. I’m 27 years old, and I’m grateful to be going blind. Let me explain.

Best Disease

Photo two: This is Joe smiling at the camera with a black shirt, his hands in his jean pockets and glasses on in front of a white wall.
photo two

When I was 10 years old, I was diagnosed with a condition called Best disease. Best disease is an inherited form of juvenile onset macular dystrophy, it affects less than one in 15,000 people that’s 0.006% of the population. The macula is part of the retina responsible for central vision. Over time, Best disease leads to loss of central vision, and can eventually lead to blindness.

In addition to Best, I have something called choroidal neovascularization. It’s when blood vessels grow behind the retina and that’s not a good thing.

The hardest part about Best disease is that there’s no cure. I’ll have long periods of stable sight, which will be interrupted by sporadic losses of sight. I never know when that’s going to happen and that causes a lot of uncertainty.

When I talk about Best, I like to split it up into two distinct parts. The part of my life where Best was a burden, and then the part of my life where Best became a blessing. Let’s start with the burden.

The Burden Of Best Disease

Throughout childhood, Best cause a lot of issues for me. But when I look back, I realized that I let Best cause issues for me. For most of my life, I struggled with self confidence, I felt different. And I didn’t think that anybody could understand what I was going through and that made me feel alone.

I worried about the future on a consistent basis because I never knew when I would lose more sight. When it came to my eyes, I played victim, and I used it as an excuse to keep me inside my comfort zone. I felt disadvantaged, I felt confused. And I felt sorry for myself. Despite all of this, I excelled in academics in athletics in relationships. On the surface, my life looked normal. But on the inside, I was just doing my best to cope with Best.

I did everything I could to dissociate from the very thing that I now embrace my sight. My lack of sight. That period of my life was from 10 years old to 23 years old. And then Best became a blessing.

Instantaneous Sight Loss

It was the summer of 2016. And I was getting ready to leave my family moved to Philadelphia and start graduate school to pursue my doctorate of physical therapy. And then it happened. I lost a big chunk of sight. And in an instant my life went into a spiral. All I could think of was what if I can’t finish school because of my eyes. And over those next two weeks, I felt more alone, more uncertain, and more hopeless than ever.

Thanks to my parents, I decided to pursue school and take things one day at a time. That first year of graduate school was hands down the hardest year of my life. On the surface, it seemed like everything was great. But on the inside, everything was falling apart. I was consumed by this darkness, that I had no idea how to get out of then I met a girl.

Well, I’d known her for a year. But we started spending more time together. And before I knew it day by day, I was happier and enjoying life. As we continued to spend time together. This girl invited me to church, and that’s where it all changed.

The Blessing Of Best Disease

Photo three: This is Joe running in black shorts on a treadmill with a look of determination on his face and a large american flag behind him.
photo three

You see, I’d grown up going to church. But over the previous few years I distanced myself from God. It felt like he didn’t care about me and so I stopped caring about him. However, this girl through her actions, showed me just how much she loved God, and how much God loved her. It was during this time that I realized that even though I stopped chasing God, he never stopped chasing me. I felt God’s love. I trusted in his plan, and I never looked back. This girl is now my wife.

And everything in my life, including Best disease, led me to her and led me back to God. I believe with everything that I am, that everything happens for a reason. And to me, that’s why Best is a blessing.

Sure, Best disease has created a long, winding and difficult road full of struggle. However, it’s been an amazing journey and it’s led me to this place right here right now. Where I feel more clear than ever, about who I am, where I want to go, and how I want to change the world for the people around me.

I love quotes, and this one from Christine Caine sums it all up. She said, “sometimes, when you’re in a dark place, it feels like you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.” I look back at all the dark times in my life. And I realized that I’ve been planted.

I’ve been given the gift of unrelenting struggle and that is a gift. Because without struggle, there is no strength. And without darkness, there is no light. What I’ve lost in sight I’ve gained in vision.

Embracing Opportunities In Sight Loss

Photo four: This is Joe standing in a blue shirt with his arms crossed, smiling at the camera with the sun setting behind him.
photo four

Living with the prospect of going blind is anything but easy. But it’s created an excellent environment for me to grow. The consistent struggle and uncertainty that I deal with every single day has afforded me an opportunity to develop incredible perspective, find immense strength, and develop a deep drive to help others. I’ve come to understand and embrace that we can’t control what life throws at us. But we can always and entirely control how we respond.

Living with Best disease, losing my sight has given me the opportunity to respond to less than ideal life circumstances as best as I can. I’m grateful for the circumstances that I’m facing. Because without them, I wouldn’t be who I am. And I don’t know. I like that person.

The struggles that I’ve encountered have been a source of incredible strength. And I truly feel strong. My loss of sight has connected me with some amazing people, and given me the repeated opportunity to encourage others. And that’s what I feel called to do to tell you that it’s only through struggle, that we find strength, and whatever it is that you’re going through. It’s happening on purpose for a purpose, even if you can’t see it just yet. Even if you can’t see well, like me.

You’re Not Alone In Your Struggles

Now listen, I understand that not everybody is losing their sight. But I do know this, everyone is struggling with something. And if you’re struggling right now, if you’re in a dark place, just know that there are people who care about you, and you are not alone. I’m one of them. Even if we’ve never met, I’d love to be able to support you, to encourage you and to be there for you in any way that I can. So please reach out.

Before I end this video, I want to thank you for watching. I want to thank everyone who supports me who encourages me and who lifts me up. I couldn’t do anything that I do without you. If you enjoyed the video, please do me a favor, hit the like button, leave a comment down below and subscribe to the channel. I’m really looking forward to growing in this space. And this video is the first of many. Thank you so much for your time. Have a great, great day.

Joe Rinaldi Bio:

Joe Rinaldi is a 27 year old performance coach, physical therapist, writer and speaker based out of Philadelphia, PA with his wife, Michaela. Born with a genetic condition called Best Disease, Joe has come to view his sight loss as a blessing; he believes that what he’s lost in sight, he’s gained in vision. It’s this positive perspective that led him to found Project Endure, an organization focused on helping others find strength in their struggle. 

Connecting With Joe Rinaldi On Social Media:

Image Descriptions:

  • The header (photo one), Beyond Sight Magazine, and YouTube thumbnail photos are identical and show Joe wearing a black short sleeve Project Endure shirt while smiling at the camera while outdoors. Text on the cover reads “Beyond Sight April 2022 | Men In Motion | Joe Rinaldi.”
  • YouTube Video Description – In the video, Joe, wearing eyeglasses and a black tee-shirt, sits in a white chair against a black background.
  • photo two: This is Joe smiling at the camera with a black shirt, his hands in his jean pockets and glasses on in front of a white wall.
  • photo three: This is Joe running in black shorts on a treadmill with a look of determination on his face and a large american flag behind him.
  • photo four: This is Joe standing in a blue shirt with his arms crossed, smiling at the camera with the sun setting behind him.
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