Pinkow wins Robert Plaster ''Can’t Never Could'' Award
Published on April 17, 2014
Susquehanna University junior Griffin Pinkow is an inspiration to others on campus for continuing to live his life and thrive despite suffering from retinitis pigmentosa. Now the world is beginning to learn of Pinkow’s drive to end blindness.
Pinkow was presented the Robert Plaster Foundation’s “Can’t Never Could” award at the Enactus National Exposition, held in Cincinnati, Ohio, this year. The honor recognizes his work with the club but also his representation of the spirit of the award, which aims at rewarding students who “overcome significant obstacles in her or his life to achieve success and has used that success to advance Enactus on his/her campus.”
Enactus clubs on college campuses create and implement community empowerment projects around the globe, guided by academic advisers and business experts. Nineteen Susquehanna Enactus members went to the exposition, but there are more than 100 active members on campus. The university has always been well represented because of the depth of experience students can have, Pinkow said, unlike larger schools where students get assigned to just one aspect, Susquehanna Enactus members can do a little bit of everything.
“The name of the award is ‘Can’t Never Could’ and when I heard that I thought, really? If you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to go do it and then come back and ask how I did. And I’m going to have done pretty well,” said Pinkow, who hails from New York, N.Y.
The prize was a $5,000 scholarship, which will help Pinkow finish his degree in communications at Susquehanna. More than 500 Enactus teams from all 50 states were present at the leadership exposition and Pinkow was one of 26 finalists.
“It was an amazing experience,” Pinkow said. “They told me two days before, but I had to be there to accept it.
In addition to his role with Enactus, Pinkow is part of the Susquehanna University men’s club rugby team, which has qualified for the national sevens tournament the past two seasons. He has also received a summer internship to work with Visionary Media, a company which produces albums for blind or visually-impaired musicians.
“I really appreciate getting the award. What I’m doing has a bigger meaning than getting an award or a pat on the back—I’m trying to cure blindness. Enactus has been supportive, and my rugby team is like my family.”
Susquehanna University’s Enactus team showed a video of Pinkow before the award was announced, and he followed it with a speech from the heart.
“My friend Adam told me that there were 10,000 people there and everyone stood and applauded,” Pinkow said. “Afterward I had people tell me they wanted to do more for the foundation.”
Part of Pinkow’s contribution was “Griffin’s Vision Quest,” a sequence of four “vision quest” experiences that build awareness of and support for those suffering from degenerative retinal diseases. To date, he has raised more than $11,000 for the Foundation of Fighting Blindness through his events and a website aimed at securing donations. Retinitis pigmentosa involves genetic mutations which affects the vision of more than 100,000 Americans. It usually strikes when a person is in their adolescent years to early 20s and most are legally blind by the time they are 40. Pinkow began noticing the effects when he was 12.