As he steps onto the posing dais, the crowd roars its approval. The symmetrical lines of the bodybuilder on stage demand the fans' attention. His vascular, defined physique
shows the years of dedicated training that have gone into what they now see. Yet Jerry Homer has done more than just train hard. He has overcome a handicap that would have
made lesser men throw in the towel. Jerry is blind.
In a sport where egos can rule and all eyes seem fixed on the mirror, it is gratifying to see a bodybuilder who rises in our sport without being totally self-centered. Jerry has been on a real winning streak, taking the Masters class in every competition he has entered so far, including the Las Vegas Classic, the Riverside Muscle Classic, the California Gold Cup, the Pacific USA and the Golden West Muscle Classic. "I won all of these contests while being totally blind, with the help and support of my family and friends," noted Jerry. He has also been a guest poser at the Southern Nevada Bodybuilding Championships. At 49 years of age Jerry is still going strong, improving his body with each passing year and showing that age and blindness are handicaps only if you let them be.
Jerry, who is a solid 5'7", has gotten a great deal of satisfaction from bodybuilding. "It's really been re-warding," he said. "It's not necessarily the personal success, but the people I've met while competing that make it all worthwhile. Bodybuilders are totally dedicated people." He also feels that bodybuilding helps provide discipline and goal orientation: "Training with weights gives me a reason to get up in the morning!"
Jerry started working out for health and fitness as a teenager. A man named Babe, who owned a gym in the Los Angeles area, was a major inspiration for him. Babe was striken with polio but never let that adversity get in the way of his positive outlook on life. Later, in the early 1980's, Jerry set up shop as a business owner in Kingman, Arizona. It was during this period that his eyesight began to deteriorate seriously due to what he calls "optic atrophy."
Refusing to let this setback ruin his life, Jerry decided to sell the business and work as the manager of a local racquetball and health club. That change allowed him to devote more of his considerable energies to competitive bodybuilding. He has continued to train intensely ever since and has improved his physique with each passing year. Jerry's goal is to compete in the Masters Nationals in the near future.
Jerry is also a dedicated family man. He has been married to his wife, Louise, for 29 years. They have two children: daughter Tracie and son Jerry Jr., who is also a competitive bodybuilder. Another trusted family member is Tatum, the loyal guide dog that accompanies Jerry Sr. to the gym. They all share the house with a cabinet full of trophies that Jerry has won over the years.
His friends feel that Jerry has the right approach to his handicap. "He really doesn't take it [blindness] into consideration," noted his workout partner, Kathy Newman. "His attitude is very excellent about it." Another friend, George Eiferman (Mr. America 1948), calls Jerry an "inspiration. He is a real role model for handicapped persons-and, for that matter, for everyone." We all con-front obstacles in life. It's the way we deal with them that shows the stuff we are really made of.
Jerry notes that a handicap is only what you make it. "I have seen people who use their handicap as an excuse to withdraw from the world. That, for me, is wrong. Sure, being blind makes some things more difficult. But I have found that my other senses have become more sensitive, which helps make up for it. The important thing is to hold on to your positive outlook on life. This will allow you to rise above adversity and meet the challenges that confront you!" That's sound advise for all of us.