As a rising star in the field of competitive swimming, Tucker feels a strong obligation to shine a light on his personal affiliations. For more information, please follow the links below.


Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON)

In October 2006, Tucker was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), an inherited and quite rare form of progressive vision loss. One of Tucker’s goals is to raise awareness of LHON.

Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is an inherited form of vision loss caused by mutations in certain mitochondrial genes (also known as maternal inheritance). Although LHON usually presents in a person’s teens or twenties, cases also may appear in early childhood or later in adulthood. For reasons that remain unknown, males are affected at a much higher rate than females.

Interestingly, there is often no family history of LHON in people who develop the condition. However, all females with a mitochondrial DNA mutation – even those who do not have any signs or symptoms – will pass the genetic change on to their children. Males cannot pass LHON to their children.

What are the symptoms of LHON, and what is the progression of the disorder?
Blurring and clouding of vision usually are the first symptoms of this disorder. Vision problems may begin in one eye or simultaneously in both eyes. Over time, vision in both eyes worsens, with a severe loss of sharpness and color vision. This condition mainly affects central vision, which is needed for detailed tasks such as reading, driving and recognizing faces. Vision loss results from the death of cells in the nerve that relays visual information from the eyes to the brain (the optic nerve).

No two people with LHON experience the same visual impairment. Although central vision gradually improves in a small percentage of cases, in most cases – as in Tucker’s case – the vision loss is profound and permanent. The prognosis for those affected is almost always that of continued very severe visual loss.

How common is LHON?
The prevalence of LHON in most populations is unknown. In a study by Man, Griffiths et al in The American Journal of Human Genetics (2003), it was found to affect 1 in 30,000 to 50,000 people in northeast England and Finland. However, current estimates state that more than 50% of men and more than 85% of women with a mutation never experience vision loss or related medical problems tied to LHON.

Is there a cure or treatment for LHON?
At present, there is no cure for LHON, and no experimental treatments have been proven effective in clinical trials. Reports of cure with drugs in isolated LHON cases may be spontaneous recoveries, which are known to happen in some genetic mutations more than others.

For more information about Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, please click here.


U.S. Paralympics

What is U.S. Paralympics?
U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and promoting excellence in the lives of people with physical disabilities. The term “Paralympic” means “parallel to the Olympics.”

What does U.S. Paralympics do?
Since its inception in 2001, U.S. Paralympics has inspired Americans to achieve their dreams. Through education, sports programs and partnerships with community organizations, medical facilities and government agencies, U.S. Paralympics is making a difference in the lives of thousands of physically disabled people every day.

What are the Paralympic Games?
The Paralympic Games are an elite sports competition for athletes with physical and visual disabilities. Held in the same year, the same city and the same venues as the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games are the second-largest sporting event in the world.

What is the difference between Paralympics and Special Olympics?
The Paralympic Games are an elite-level sports competition for athletes with physical and visual disabilities only. The Special Olympics are open to all competitors with cognitive and mental impairments.

To learn more, visit: U.S. Paralympics


The Governor Morehead School

Established in 1845, Governor Morehead School (GMS) is the eighth oldest school for the blind in the United States.

The mission of The Governor Morehead School is to successfully educate North Carolina’s youth with visual impairments to be productive, independent, confident citizens and life-long learners. This mission includes the responsibility to assist in the provision of consultative and technical services to other public and private state and national organizations in an effort to meet the needs of the students. Services of the school are supported by state and federal funding and are available at no charge to local school systems, students or families.

GMS is the only state supported school in North Carolina that specializes solely in comprehensive educational and residential programs designed specifically for students with visual impairments.

To learn more, visit: The Governor Morehead School

United States Association of Blind Athletes

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached thousands of blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind. USABA’s Mission: to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity.

To learn more, visit: United States Association of Blind Athletes