Blake says he’s learned several lessons.
“I think some people don’t appreciate how good they have it until things are taken away,” he says, looking back. “I had pretty much everything taken away — my vision was blurry, my balance was off, my taste was messed up, I lost partial hearing in one ear, and my smile was taken away. When you have things like that taken away, you realize that there are a million things that you do on a daily basis that you take for granted.
“I just try to take it all in and to think of what my father always taught me: to work hard and to be proud of what I do,” he says. “I don’t have the physical voice of my father telling me that every day, but I still hear him in my head.”