Seattle Seahawks player Derrick Coleman is a one-of-a-kind NFL player. Heâ€™s made national news this week, not as a member of a Super Bowl Bound team, but because he is legally deaf.
The national stir began with the release of a Duracell battery commercial. The commercial has reached more than 7.5 million hits.
The premise of the commercial focuses on his long road to overcome obstacles to achieve NFL greatness. While the commercial is geared to promote batteries, Coleman says it is so much more.
“It’s spreading awareness not just for the hearing impaired but for everybody,” Coleman said to the Associated Press. “Everybody has problems, but we can still do what we want to do.
“I’ve been doing this since I was in college. Like I always tell everybody, there might be 100 people in the room, but if one walks away knowing, ‘I can still chase the dream,’ that is all I care about. It’s heartwarming.”
In so many ways, Coleman’s story is exactly that, too. As a kid, he was a strong, fast athlete, but often was chosen last in pickup games because of the hearing aids. He also was picked on because of his deafness. But he’s never allowed it to be a handicap, as his place in the NFL confirms.
Coleman was a standout at UCLA before being picked up last winter by the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent. Heâ€™s proven his worth to the team, and continues to serve as inspiration to others about achieving their dreams.
The National Grange Youth Department, and National Grange, has long supported projects that raise awareness to deaf and hard of hearing. Both issues challenge rural America. Hearing loss of farmers, who spent their career working around loud equipment, is still a problem today. Young people are at risk by misuse of earbuds, playing music, videos too loud. And, for families with deaf or hard of hearing at home, assistance may not always be easily accessed.
Grange youth should take up the challenge this year to learn how to sign the sign language alphabet or learn how to sign a song to compete in their state sign-a-song contest. There are plenty of deaf educational resources available online.
While each Granger will pick a side in the 2014 Super Bowl, I believe every Granger should root for the awareness Coleman is bringing to a legacy issue of the Grange.
To see the Coleman video go here.
To learn about the William Ireland Deaf Achievement Award go here.