POSTED ON September 25th  - POSTED IN AbledTeens
AbledTeens Banner shows a group of teenagers side-by-side facing the camera with the view of Earth's sunrise from space in the background.
AbledTeens Post Banner Headline reads: Max Lamm: 13 year-old Wrestler Dominates His Weight Class And Geography Class. A video screen grab from shows a smiling, blonde-haired Max wearing a winner's medal from a wrestling tournament and smiling at the camera while standing next to one of the referees.

Retinoblastoma is an eye cancer that begins in the retina — the sensitive lining on the inside of your eye. Retinoblastoma most commonly affects young children, but can rarely occur in adults.

Your retina is made up of nerve tissue that senses light as it comes through the front of your eye. The retina sends signals through your optic nerve to your brain, where these signals are interpreted as images.

A rare form of eye cancer, retinoblastoma is the most common form of cancer affecting the eye in children. Retinoblastoma may occur in one or both eyes.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

Signs of retinoblastoma include:

  • A white color in the center circle of the eye (pupil) when light is shone in the eye, such as when taking a flash photograph
  • Eyes that appear to be looking in different directions
  • Eye redness
  • Eye swelling

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your child’s doctor if you notice any changes to your child’s eyes that concern you. Retinoblastoma is a rare cancer, so your child’s doctor may explore other more common eye conditions first.

If you have a family history of retinoblastoma, ask your pediatrician when your child should begin regular eye exams to screen for retinoblastoma.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

Retinoblastoma occurs when nerve cells in the retina develop genetic mutations. These mutations cause the cells to continue growing and multiplying when healthy cells would die. This accumulating mass of cells forms a tumor. Retinoblastoma cells can invade further into the eye and nearby structures. Retinoblastoma can also spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body, including the brain and spine.

In the majority of cases, it’s not clear what causes the genetic mutations that lead to retinoblastoma. However, it’s possible for children to inherit a genetic mutation from their parents.

Retinoblastoma that is inherited

Gene mutations that increase the risk of retinoblastoma and other cancers can be passed from parents to children. Hereditary retinoblastoma is passed from parents to children in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means only one parent needs a single copy of the mutated gene to pass the increased risk of retinoblastoma on to the children. If one parent carries a mutated gene, each child has a 50 percent chance of inheriting that gene.

Although a genetic mutation increases a child’s risk of retinoblastoma, it doesn’t mean that cancer is inevitable.

Children with the inherited form of retinoblastoma tend to develop the disease at an earlier age. Hereditary retinoblastoma also tends to occur in both eyes, as opposed to just one eye.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

What treatments are best for your child’s retinoblastoma depends on the size and location of the tumor, whether cancer has spread to areas other than the eye, your child’s overall health and your own preferences. When possible, your child’s doctor will work to preserve your child’s vision.


Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be taken in pill form, or it can be given through a blood vessel. Chemotherapy drugs travel throughout the body to kill cancer cells.

In children with retinoblastoma, chemotherapy may help shrink a tumor so another treatment, such as radiation therapy, cryotherapy, thermotherapy or laser therapy, may be used to treat the remaining cancer cells. This may improve the chances that your child won’t need surgery.

Chemotherapy may also be used to treat retinoblastoma that has spread to tissues outside the eyeball or to other areas of the body.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Two types of radiation therapy used in treating retinoblastoma include:

  • Internal radiation (brachytherapy). During internal radiation, the treatment device is temporarily placed in or near the tumor. Internal radiation for retinoblastoma uses a small disk made of radioactive material. The disk is stitched in place and left for a few days while it slowly gives off radiation to the tumor. Placing radiation near the tumor reduces the chance that treatment will affect healthy eye tissue.
  • External beam radiation. External beam radiation delivers high-powered beams to the tumor from a large machine outside of the body. As your child lies on a table, the machine moves around your child, delivering the radiation. External beam radiation can cause side effects when radiation beams reach the delicate areas around the eye, such as the brain. For this reason, external beam radiation is typically reserved for children with advanced retinoblastoma and those for whom other treatments haven’t worked.

Laser therapy (laser photocoagulation)

During laser therapy, a laser is used to destroy blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the tumor. Without a source for fuel, cancer cells may die.

Cold treatments (cryotherapy)

Cryotherapy uses extreme cold to kill cancer cells. During cryotherapy, a very cold substance, such as liquid nitrogen, is placed in or near the cancer cells. Once the cells freeze, the cold substance is removed and the cells thaw. This process of freezing and thawing, repeated a few times in each cryotherapy session, causes the cancerous cells to die.

Heat treatments (thermotherapy)

Thermotherapy uses extreme heat to kill cancer cells. During thermotherapy, heat is directed at the cancer cells using ultrasound, microwaves or lasers.


When the tumor is too large to be treated by other methods, surgery may be used to treat retinoblastoma. In these situations, surgery to remove the eye may help prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. Surgery for retinoblastoma includes:

  • Surgery to remove the affected eye (enucleation). During surgery to remove the eye, surgeons disconnect the muscles and tissue around the eye and remove the eyeball. A portion of the optic nerve, which extends from the back of the eye into the brain, also is removed.
  • Surgery to place an eye implant. Immediately after the eyeball is removed, the surgeon places a special ball — made of plastic or other materials — in the eye socket. The muscles that control eye movement are attached to the implant. After your child heals, the eye muscles will adapt to the implanted eyeball, so it may move just as the natural eye did. However, the implanted eyeball cannot see.
  • Fitting an artificial eye. Several weeks after surgery, a custom-made artificial eye can be placed over the eye implant. The artificial eye can be made to match your child’s healthy eye. The artificial eye sits behind the eyelids and clips onto the eye implant. As your child’s eye muscles move the eye implant, it will appear that your child is moving the artificial eye.

Side effects of surgery include infection and bleeding. Removing an eye will affect your child’s vision, though most children will adapt to the loss of an eye over time.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are studies to test new treatments and new ways of using existing treatments. While clinical trials give your child a chance to try the latest in retinoblastoma treatments, they can’t guarantee a cure. Ask your child’s doctor whether your child is eligible to participate in clinical trials. Your child’s doctor can discuss the benefits and risks of enrolling in a clinical trial.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

In most cases, doctors aren’t sure what causes retinoblastoma, so there’s no proven way to prevent the disease.

Prevention for families with inherited retinoblastoma

In families with the inherited form of retinoblastoma, preventing retinoblastoma may not be possible. However, genetic testing enables families to know which children have an increased risk of retinoblastoma, so eye exams can begin at an early age. That way, retinoblastoma may be diagnosed very early — when the tumor is small and a chance for a cure and preservation of vision is still possible.

If your doctor determines that your child’s retinoblastoma was caused by an inherited genetic mutation, your family may be referred to a genetic counselor.

Genetic testing can be used to determine whether:

  • Your child with retinoblastoma is at risk of other related cancers
  • Your other children are at risk of retinoblastoma and other related cancers, so they can start eye exams at an early age
  • You and your partner have the possibility of passing the genetic mutation on to future children

The genetic counselor can discuss the risks and benefits of genetic testing and help you decide whether you, your partner or your other children will be tested for the genetic mutation.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

When your child is diagnosed with cancer, it’s common to feel a range of emotions — from shock and disbelief to guilt and anger. Everyone finds his or her own way of coping with stressful situations, but if you’re feeling lost, you might try to:

  • Gather all the information you need. Find out enough about retinoblastoma to feel comfortable making decisions about your child’s care. Talk with your child’s health care team. Keep a list of questions to ask at the next appointment. Visit your local library and ask for help searching for information. Consult the websites of the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society for more information.
  • Organize a support network. Find friends and family who can help support you as a caregiver. Loved ones can accompany your child to doctor visits or sit by his or her bedside in the hospital when you can’t be there. When you’re with your child, your friends and family can help out by spending time with your other children or helping around your house.
  • Take advantage of resources for kids with cancer. Seek out special resources for families of kids with cancer. Ask your clinic’s social workers about what’s available. Support groups for parents and siblings put you in touch with people who understand what you’re feeling. Your family may be eligible for summer camps, temporary housing and other support.
  • Maintain normalcy as much as possible. Small children can’t understand what’s happening to them as they undergo cancer treatment. To help your child cope, try to maintain a normal routine as much as possible.Try to arrange appointments so that your child can have a set nap time each day. Have routine mealtimes. Allow time for play when your child feels up to it. If your child must spend time in the hospital, bring items from home that helps him or her feel more comfortable.Ask your health care team about other ways to comfort your child through his or her treatment. Some hospitals have recreation therapists or child-life workers who can give you more specific ways to help your child to cope.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

New England Retinoblastoma Support Group
Provides emotional support and resources for families with retinoblastoma. Information and referral, phone support, conferences, literature, advocacy.
Phone: 1-800-562-6265
Address: New England Retinoblastoma Parents Support Group, P.O. Box 317, Watertown, MA 02272

American Cancer Society
Health information, coping with cancer, new treatment and research, discussion groups, locate resources in your community.
Phone: 1-800-227-2345l

Children’s Cancer Association
Visit this site and request a copy of The Kids Cancer Pages. It is a comprehensive national resource directory on childhood cancer. It was created to help connect and network families to organizations, information, resources, and to each other on a national basis.
Phone: 1-503-244-3141

National Cancer Institute
The U.S. Government’s primary agency for cancer research and information.
Phone: 1-800-4-CANCER

Young People With Cancer
This book provides parents with information on the most common types of cancer, treatments and side effects and common issues that arise when a child is diagnosed with cancer.
Phone: 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) and select the option to order publications Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time (within the U.S. and its territories).

The National Children’s Cancer Society
Provides information, emotional and financial support to children with cancer and their families for expenses related to cancer treatment. The website has special links just for kids and information on healthy caregiving for families.
Phone: 1-800-532-6459

Eye Cancer Network
Educational, diagnostic and treatment information about ocular cancers.

Band-Aids and Blackboards
A website about growing up with a medical problem from the perspective of kids and teens.

National Eye Institute
The U.S. Government agency conducts and supports research to help prevent and treat eye diseases. The website provides health information in English and Spanish.
Phone: 1-301-496-5248

Patient-Centered Guides
Childhood Cancer Survivors; A Practical Guide to Your Future
Childhood Cancer: A Parent’s Guide to Solid Tumor Cancers
Books written to give survivors and their families the information they need.
Phone: 1-800-998-9938

Candlelighter’s Childhood Cancer Foundation
A national non-profit membership organization whose mission is to educate, support, serve, and advocate for families of children with cancer, survivors of childhood cancer, and the professionals who care for them.
Phone: 800-366-2223


Visual Impairment Resources

Visually impairment can be described as partially sighted, low vision, hard-of-seeing, or blind based on the degree of visual impairment. A person is considered LEGALLY blind when the best-corrected visual acuity is 20/200, or the person’s visual field is 20 degrees or less. Few legally blind persons have no sight; in fact, most have some remaining vision. Partially sighted or low vision generally refers to a severe visual impairment, not necessarily limited to distance vision. Low vision applies to all individuals with sight who are unable to read the newspaper at a normal viewing distance, even with the aid of eyeglasses or contact lenses. They use a combination of vision and other senses to learn, although they may require adaptations in lighting or the size of print, and, sometimes, Braille. Generally, the partially sighted individual has a central visual acuity range of 20/70 to 20/200 in the better eye with best correction by glasses.

Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS)
This state agency provides vocational rehabilitation and employment services for blind and visually impaired Florida residents. Services include school to work transition, job placement, counseling, vocational and academic training, orientation and mobility training, personal and social adjustments services and post-employment services. A part of DBS, the Florida Department of Education specialists from Children and Family Services serve eligible children who are blind or visually impaired so that they may reach educational and independent living goals.
Phone: 1-800-342-1330

National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI)
A national non-profit organization that enables parents to find information and resources for their children who are blind or visually impaired. NAPVI offers information and referral services, initiates outreach by providing seed money to promotes the development of state and local organizations, has a quarterly publication, advocates for educational needs, and offers emotional support and networking opportunities.
Phone: 1-900-562-6265

V.I. Guide
An Internet site that contains information on topics is pertaining to parenting and teaching children with a visual impairment. Information and links to other sites about vision-related services, special education, assistive technology and products, laws and legislation, entertainment, research, and other organizations and groups that might be of interest.

The Hadley School for the Blind
The Hadley School offers Parent/Child and Parent/Family correspondence courses on a variety of topics. Parent/Child courses include: Reach and Teach, which provides step-by-step teaching techniques and guideline to help parents assess and build on a child’s strengths; Child Development; Partners in Education; Learning, Play, and Toys; and Early Independence. Parent/Family course topics include Abacus I and II; Accessing Local Sports and Recreation; Braille Reading for Family members, College Bound, the Human Eye; Independent Living; Personal Computers; self-esteem.
Phone: 1-800-323-4238

Blind Children’s Center
This Los Angeles organization has a number of videos and publications (some in Spanish) that can provide useful information for families of blind or visually impaired children. Topics include: beginning nurturing, social, play and language interactions; teaching young children who are visually impaired; common concerns for the preschool child who is visually impaired or blind; feeding a child with a visual impairment; movement development for babies who are visually impaired; orientation and mobility for preschool children designing and constructing simple adaptive mobility devices for preschool children; multiple disabilities; and parents talk about their feelings.
Phone: 1-800-222-3566


Other Organizations

American Council of the Blind
Phone: 1-800-424-8666

American Federation for the Blind
Phone: 1-800-232-5463

American Printing House for the Blind

Lighthouse International

National Federation of the Blind


Links to Other Websites

Eye Resources on the Internet

International Organization for the Blind

Blindness Resource Center

A Blind Net

Snuggl’ Up, Inc
Phone: 305-931-6333



SNG Prosthetic Eye Institute



Angel Flight
Angel Flight is a non-profit, volunteer pilot organization that coordinates free air transportation on corporate aircraft for those with medical needs.
Phone: 1-800-352-4256

Midwest Express Miracle Miles
One free flight, thereafter flights are discounted. No financial requirements.
Phone: Call Natalie Fuerst at 1-414-570-3644

Corporate Angels
Private jets used by corporations that have empty seats, free flights. No financial requirements.
Phone: 1-914-328-1313

Northwest Airlines, Kid Cares Program
Those with financial need have priority.
Phone: 1-612-726-4206

American Airlines, Aadvantage Miles for Kids in Need
Helps those in financial need.
Phone: 1-817-963- 8118

The National Patient Travel HELPLINE
Helps those in financial need.
Phone: 1-800-296-1217



American Cancer Society’s Winn-Dixie Hope Lodge
The American Cancer Society understands the challenges that families face when a loved one needs cancer treatment far from home. It can be uncomfortable and extremely costly to stay in hotels for weeks at a time. That’s where Hope Lodge can help. It offers a friendly environment with no limit on the length of stay. Hope Lodge provides several kitchen areas where families can cook their own meals. While Hope Lodge does not provide medical, counseling, or religious services, it is far more than a hotel. It’s a home-away-from-home when it’s needed most.
Phone: 1-800-ACS-2345; In Miami: 305-547-2210; Other areas: 1-317-415-5000

Ronald McDonald House
Since 1974, families around the world have been calling Ronald McDonald House a “home-away-from-home.”
Address: Ronald McDonald House Charities, One Kroc Drive, Oak Brook, Illinois, 60523
Phone: 1-630-623-7048


AbledTeens Photo shows 13 year old Max Lamm walking with his guide dog Seal. Max lost his vision as an infant to Retinoblastoma - cancerous tumors in his eyes. Max has sandy blonde hair cut neatly and is wearing a blue t-shirt with khaki shorts. We can see his hand on Seal's harness handle but the aspect ratio of the photo doesn't let us see Seal except for the top edge of him. He looks like he might be a collie-labrador mix. Seal is black with tan spots above his eyes, a white streak from between his eyes to around his nose flanked by black and then tan coloring around his mouth. There is a nicely mowed lawn and trees in the background in Max's home-town of Mars, Pennsylvania.

Max Lamm Is Not Defined By His Lack Of Sight


There is always a great temptation for the media to make a big deal when someone who is living with sensory loss or physical impairment achieves something. The achievement is always certainly laudable, but not because of the so-called disability.

It should be celebrated for the same reasons we mark achievements by non-disabled persons who mark these milestones because of their personal and distinctive combinations of preparation, determination, discipline and, above all, character.

Max Lamm is a 13 year-old who lives in Mars, Pennsylvania. He is a junior wrestler who has excelled in all these personal and distinctive markers.

However, most of the media outlets and websites that are sharing a video profile of him done by the team at are touting him as a ‘blind’ wrestler. That’s something that Max would hate. In their description of the video on YouTube, the folks at Bleacher Report even admit that, “The one lesson Max repeated throughout our interviews is that he’s not a ‘blind wrestler’, he’s just a regular kid.” Yet the headline on their website and on YouTube both refer to him as ‘Blind Wrestler Max Lamm’.

As you’ll discover in the video, Max has simply adapted his remaining senses and used his brain, as any other wrestler would, to evolve his technique. He’s learned well from his coaches, applied his own instincts and has been well supported by his parents because they’ve refused to raise him as a ‘disabled child’. Max finished his last season with a 10-1 record, dominated his weight class in a regional tournament this past summer and also showed that he’s a disciplined and talented student by winning his school’s Geography Bee.

Does his loss of vision give him a better ability to focus than other students? Has his upbringing influenced his determination and attitude, not to mention the confidence that his loyal guide dog, and best friend, Seal helped to evolve? They were only matched up in 2012 by MIRA. Who knows?

It’s likely a combination of all of the above coupled with Max’s individual and distinct personality and character.

These are issues Co-Founder Laura Meddens can relate to. She progressively lost her sight as an adult, but adapted along the way with the help of assistive technology that’s improved over the years, and with the help of her previous and current Seeing Eye® guide dogs Wagner, and Nugget, respectively.

Laura, like Max, also doesn’t want to be referred to as a ‘blind entrepreneur or a ‘blind advocate’, she’s Laura – a person who wants to live an ‘Abled’ life that is made more achievable with the assistive and adaptive options available to her.

So it is with Max, and the reason we feature him as one of our AbledTeens is for the combination of his character, integrity and talents, as well as how he’s overcome the sensory disadvantage that infantile retinoblastoma caused, that make him an inspiration to all of us, blind or not.

AbledPhoto courtesy of shows Max Lamm with his guide dog Seal. Max is wearing a blue sleeveless sports jersey with black shorts that have red stripes along the side. He is kneeling beside Seal, his St. Pierre breed guide dog on the grass near some bushes. IN the photo next to it, Max is sitting on a bench in a park in the summertime with another female student and both have their guide dogs at their feet. There is another girl sitting on the grass in the foreground.
AbledPhotos shows an info graphic on Retinoblastoma from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital titled What Is Retinoblastoma in white text on a Cerulean blue background. Then black text on a light blue background with numbers in red reads as follows: This rare tumor can occur in one or both eyes. It is caused by a genetic defect in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. 250 to 300 children in the U.S. develop retinoblastoma each year. 40 percent of children with retinoblastoma have tumors in both eyes. These are all caused by the heritary form, which means the mutation occurs in all of the body's cells. 60 percent of children with retinoblastoma have disease in only one eye. Of these, most have the sporadic (non-hereditary) form. There is a 95 percent survival rate for children whose tumors have not spread beyond the eye. There is a 50 percent risk with each pregnancy that individuals with the hereditary form of retinoblastoma will pass the mutated gene to their children. The bottom panel reads: Children who have retinoblastoma in both eyes generally have the familial form of the disease. Although some children inherit this mutation from their parents, others develop a new mutation, which can be passed on to future generations. This is followed by the logo of St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital which shows a side view of a waist-high white silhouette of a child against the cerulean blue background that joins into an arc over the text of the logo. Click here to go to the Hospital's website.

The Story of Max and Seal by Max Himself

From MIRA Foundation USA

My name is Max Lamm and I am 12 years old. Three years ago I started to lose what little vision I had. I hated learning to use the white cane even though it did help me get around. My parents promised me that they would investigate getting a guide dog. My dad was denied by several guide dog groups because of my age, I was almost 11 years old. One night , my dad was researching guide dogs and came across MIRA. He immediately called, Bob Baillie, and inquired about the foundation.

Bob was going to be in the Philly area where we were going to be visiting and agreed to meet us…it was meant to be! I loved Bob’s dog, Devon, instantly! I was working so hard with orientation and mobility with a cane; I couldn’t imagine how different it would feel with a dog. I knew how different I would look with a dog and not a cane, though, and at my age, appearance is everything!!!

April 2011 I traveled to North Carolina to have my orientation and mobility skills tested as well as see if I could handle a guide dog. It is a feeling that I cannot explain when I was holding on to a harness and not a cane. I worked hard and it paid off, I was headed to Canada that summer.

Five days after my eleventh birthday my mom and I flew to Canada to start the journey. Training started when we got there and never ended until I boarded my airplane to go home. I have never worked so hard in my life. The trainers and staff were awesome. I learned to speak a little French because that is what my dog, Seal, understands. It was difficult at times to be away from home but it was short term and I knew I would leave with a new best friend.

Seal is a handsome St. Pierre breed. A mix between a Labrador and a Bernese Mountain Dog. I am constantly told that Seal is so beautiful and that his eyebrows are the cutest! Seal fit right into our home immediately. If you own a dog you know the responsibility of caring for them and I do it well. I brush his teeth and fur, feed him daily, take him outside, and work on maintaining his command and street skills. Seal rides the school bus with me everyday and goes to all my classes. His least favorite class is gym class because he has to sit at the side of the gym and watch me. He is the best snuggler and best friend.

I like to do things for myself and Seal allows me to do this while not holding on to someone’s arm or a white cane. When I am out I am stopped at least twice by people who want to talk about the dog and how great we look together. I was never told that when I used the cane. I am proud of myself and continue to work hard so I will be as independent as possible.

See more at: MIRA USA

Related Agencies Banner
Abled Public Service Ad for the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Click here to go to their website.
Abled Public Service Ad for Retinoblastoma International. Click here to go to their website.
Abled Public Service Ad for Fighting retinoblastoma Childhood Eye Cancer Trust in the U.K. Click here to go to their website.
Abled Public Service Ad for the Canadian Retinoblastoma Society. Click here to go to their website.
Abled Public Service Ad for Through An Angel's Eyes - Supporting children and families with eye cancer. Click here to go to their website.
Abled Public Service Ad for MIRA Foundation Canada and USA that provides guide dogs for blind children between the ages of 11 and 17. Click here to go to their website.
Abled Public Service Ad for St. Jude Children's research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Click here to go to the Hospital's website.
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AbledALERT-Outbreak post link banner shows 13 year old Will Cornejo of Lone Tree, Colorado breathing with the help of an oxygen mask while lying in a hospital bed, while text in the foreground reads: Enterovirus D68: Special Ongoing Coverage. The headline reads: Outbreak: Spike in cases Overwhelms Hospitals | What parents need to know. Click here to go to the report.
AbledAlert link banner Shows a photograph of healthcare workers dressed in turquoise blue surgical gowns , hairnets and pink medic al gloves set against a world map and chart showing data on Ebola outbreaks since 1976. The headline reads: Abled Alert: Outbreak: Tracking the deadliest yet. Click here to go to our Special Ongoing Coverage on the Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa.
AbledAlert link box shows a photograph of an Asian Tiger Mosquito set against a transparent red layer covering a map of the Caribbean region with the word Chikungunya in WHite at the top. The headline reads: Outbreak: 'Contorted With Pain Virus. CLick here to go to our special ongoing coverage.
Abled Conditions Special Report link banner shows a black and white photo of Robin Willieams kneeling on one knee and clasping his hands around his other leg which is bent at the knee. He is looking at the camera with an impish grin on his face. There is a candle burning in the right foreground. The Headline reads: AbledConditions: Depression | Parkinson's: Tears of a Clown. Click here to go to our Special Report.
AbledRx link box shows a photo of various Aspirin bottles and boxes. The headline reads: AbledRx; Aspirin: Linked to Huge Cut in Cancer. Click here to go to the post.
AbledCauses post link box shows a photo of Max Page ('Lil Darth Vader') holding a Joy Jar filled with trinkets, toys and inspirational messages for sick children in hospital. A photo card forms the other half of the picture and shows Jessie Rees who originated the idea of Joy Jars before losing her battle with cancer. The headline reads: Joy Jars: Max Keeps Jessie's Dream Alive. Click here to go to the post.
AbledCauses link box shows Nick Auden hugging his three children. The headline reads: Locky's Dad: His 'Right To Try' Legacy. Click here to go to the story.
AbledCauses link box shows a photograph of web evangelist Molly Holzschlag with her trademark curly long hair before she became ill with a rare disorder. The other photo is a more recent one, showing Molly with much shorter hair covered by a colorful head scarf. The text reads: AbledCauses: Molly Holzschlag: The Fight of Her Life. Click here to go to the story to learn how you can help this Internet Pioneer beat this rare illness.
AbledCauses link box shows young Ben Pierce covering his face in his hands as he says during an interview 'I don't want to go blind'. The headline reads: Help his Visual Bucket List. Click here to go to the post.
AboutAbled link Banner shows Abled Co-Founder Laura Meddens looking out at the seaside at sunset in Curaçao with the text Laura Meddens: An Abled Vision For Global Accessibility, Inclusion and Equality. Click here to go to the AboutAbled page.
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POSTED ON January 18th  - POSTED IN AbledPeople
AbledPeople Banner shows a row of people linking hands and jumping in the air at the beach.
AbledPeople Post Banner shows a still-frame from a TV commercial for Duracell batteries featuring Derrick Coleman, a fullback for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks who has been deaf since the age of 3, putting his helmet on as he walks out to the stadium field. The text reads: Derrick Coleman, The Seahawks fullback who's inspiring a generation of Deaf Fans.

A screenshot from an NBC News feature on Derrick Coleman shows the Seattle Seahawks fullback visiting 'Listen and Talk' a program for kids with hearing loss. Many of the children are wearing Seattle Seahawks jerseys.


Derrick Coleman: Person Of The Month for January 2014


“I’m just a guy who has hearing aids and wanted to play football and found a way to do it”


Those are the words of a humble 23 year old who claims ‘he’s nobody special’, but millions of people around the world are quickly becoming fans because of his inspirational story. And millions more will likely follow because of features done about his story on CBS News This Morning, NBC Nightly News, and ABC’s World News Tonight.


Derrick Coleman is the first offensive player in the National Football League who is legally deaf. That may be inspiring in itself. But it’s his quiet dignity and perseverance in the face of a lifetime of bullying and marginalizing by non-believers, as well as the way he is inspiring a generation of young people living with hearing loss, that is winning over new fans.


And that’s the reason we’ve named Derrick Coleman “ Person of the Month”.


His story is also featured in an ad by Duracell and it has gone viral with over 6.8 million views on YouTube.


In the last games leading up to the Superbowl, it’s a story that had many people around the world hoping that he and his team, the Seattle Seahawks go all the way to the championship. And, after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in a heart-stopping final, they will.


Ironically, as NBC puts it, “he plays in the loudest sports stadium, with one of the most boisterous, raucous and turbulent fans in the nation.


“I may not hear all of them, but I can feel them,” says Coleman. “The vibration, their faces, it helps me hear them.”


One of the most eloquent comments related to the story of Derrick Coleman was posted recently at by “Lisa” (lcksav):


“Dear Mr. Coleman:


Thank you for sharing your story with the world. I too have a hearing impairment that started when I was a child. I am over 55% deaf to low tones in both ears.


As I grew up many people made fun of me asking, “Are you stupid”? “Are you deaf”? Well, the answer was “No, I’m not stupid and yes, I am deaf”.


I can’t begin to tell you how living a normal life is with hearing loss, especially when you can’t afford hearing aids, or have to borrow from your 401k to pay for them. As well, insurance companies don’t help with the cost involved.


I have lived my life trying to explain to people at the drive-thru window, the bank, the receptionists at the doctors’ offices, my own family and co-workers that I AM DEAF, not stupid!


Perhaps through your story less children will feel the pain of growing up deaf, and more people will be more aware of how cruel they can be. Deafness is not like the loss of eyesight; you can see that someone is wearing glasses, but in the case of deafness, unless an individual can afford the hearing aids, it just appears that they are stupid, not paying attention, or yes…deaf.”


You can learn more about this remarkable young man in the the Duracell ad below, followed by the ‘America Strong Report’ from ABC News, the NBC report and the CBS report.


Remarkably the automated transcripts provided by the network are failing deaf viewers. NBC’s report had the most accurate transcript/closed-captioning, while ABC’s was markedly inaccurate. CBS had no closed-captioning or transcript whatsoever, which is a disservice to deaf viewers as reflected in the comments on their site.


It’s a ‘duh’ moment for their producers because the CBS report is the best and most extensive report, and you would think that with a high-profile story such as Coleman’s that is going more viral everyday, proper closed-captioning and a transcript would be an obvious service to provide.


None of the networks, including YouTube, allow for a transcript or closed-captioning when you share and embed a video from their site, so we’ve provided AbledTranscripts for our deaf users following each of the videos.

Duracell’s ad of Derrick Coleman’s inspiring story goes viral with over 6.8 million hits

AbledTranscript of the Duracell Ad for our deaf users:

0:04 [Fans cheering] [Sudden silence]
0:04 They told me it couldn’t be done . . . that I was a lost cause.
0:10 I was picked on . . . and picked last.
0:15 Coaches didn’t know how to talk to me.
0:18 [Sounds of football game] They gave up on me . . . told me I should just quit
0:27 [… and the last pick is …] They didn’t call my name . . . told me it was over.
0:38 But I’ve been deaf since I was three . . . so I didn’t listen.
0:44 [Motivational music]
0:47 Now I’m here . . . with the loudest fans in the NFL cheering me on. And I can hear them all.


ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer’s ‘America Strong’ feature on Derrick Coleman.

AbledTranscript of the ABC News report for our deaf users:

Diane Sawyer: The professional football player about to play the biggest game of his life in front of the loudest fans in history. And he has become an inspiration by tackling a challenge on and off the field. And ABC’s Neal Karlinsky has the man who is America strong.

Neal Karlinsky: (Fan cheers) To most of us the stadium famous for being the loudest in the NFL sounds like this. (Loud roar of the fans). But to Seattle Seahawks number forty that fierce roar sounds more like this dull rumble– (muted sound of the fans roar).

Derrick Coleman: Being deaf, being hard of hearing, that’s who I am, so I mean I’m not somebody else come in here and tell tell me ‘Oh you’re deaf’;  that’s who I am, so it made me who I am today.

Neal Karlinsky: Derrick Coleman is the first legally deaf offensive player in the NFL.  The fullback is the unlikely star of this Duracell battery commercial, viewed nearly five million times online.

Derrick Coleman voiceover in Duracell ad: They told me it couldn’t be done . . . that I was a lost cause . . . I was picked on.

Neal Karlinsky: Deaf since the age of three he never quit and overcame incredible odds,  first as a star in high school, then at UCLA, and now with the Seattle Seahawks. He taught himself to read lips because even his powerful hearing aids aren’t enough for him to know exactly when a play is about to begin.

Neal Karlinsky: You used to have tricks . . .

Derrick Coleman: I don’t move until the ball moves, that’s my thing. I think I had maybe two false starts in my whole career.

Neal Karlinsky: When a play is changed at the last minute, watch the quarterback turn so Coleman can read his lips.

Play by play announcer: Russell Wilson turned around and mouthed ‘the audible’ to him.

Neal Karlinsky: As his team plays the last game team standing between them and the Super Bowl this weekend, number forty will be there . . . reading lips and feeling the vibrations of the fans’ cheers.

Derrick Coleman: When people . . . it’s like ‘oh you can’t do this’ . . . it’s more motivation for me, like . . . OK, watch me.

Neal Karlinsky: That’s America Strong. Neal Karlinsky, ABC News, Seattle.

NBC Nightly News report on Derrick Coleman.

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AbledTranscript of the NBC News report for our deaf users:

Reporter: Growing up in Seattle will make you a fan of the Seahawks, but something else is making these kids a fan of one Seahawk in particular, Number 40.

Young boy:  He has hearing aids like me.

Reporter: He is talking about Derrick Coleman , who recently paid a visit to Listen & Talk, a program for kids with hearing loss . Coleman left a big impression on 5-year-old Korrigan Donaldson.

Reporter: What do you want to do when you grow up?

Korrigan Donaldson:  I want to be a football player.

Reporter: Coleman is the first deaf offensive player in the NFL. The fullback for the Seahawks just happens to play in a stadium known for earth shaking cheers that actually measure on the Richter Scale .

Derrick Coleman:  It’s great. I mean, their energy is basically more energy for us, more motivation.

Reporter: Can you feel the fans?

Derrick Coleman: Oh, yeah. i can feel it.

Reporter: Coleman ‘s hearing aids help on the fields but more than anything he relies on reading lips.

Derrick Coleman: It’s my job to go out and prove to everybody basically what I’m doing now, is that I can do the same thing everybody else can do.

May Hamlin (Derrick Coleman’s mother):  This is around 2 years old . . .

Reporter: His mother knows it wasn’t easy. Growing up kids would tease her son who has been deaf since age 3.

May Hamlin (Derrick Coleman’s mother):  I would tell him, you know what? God made you like you are for a purpose and a reason and you don’t let anybody bring you down.

Derrick Coleman voiceover from Duracell ad: I was picked on  [other kid calls him ‘four ears’] and picked last.

Reporter: Coleman’s story “perseverance” is now featured in a Duracell commercial that’s gone viral.

Derrick Coleman voiceover in Duracell Ad: Now I’m here with a lot of fans in the NFL cheering me on, and I can hear them all.

Reporter: He empowers kids like Josh Masters who dreams of playing college basketball .

Josh Masters: We’ve both been put down; we’ve both been having setbacks just because we’re deaf, but beyond that we both kept on pushing.

Reporter: That is why Coleman shares his story.

Derrick Coleman: With a hundred kids in there, I just want at least one of them to walk out of there knowing that, okay,  I can do this.

Reporter: An inspiring message fans can hear and, most of all, feel. Joe Fryer, NBC News, Seattle.

CBS News This Morning report on Derrick Coleman.

AbledTranscript of the CBS News This Morning report for our deaf users:

[In Studio] CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose: This morning, a battery commercial is the latest Internet sensation. It stars Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks. He is the only athlete in NFL history to play offense, despite the fact he is legally deaf. Bill Whitaker caught up with Coleman as he gets ready for another chance to break one more barrier . . . the Super Bowl.

Bill Whitaker: When the Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers this weekend, no one will be paying better attention than Derrick Coleman. 

Derrick Coleman: I have to be aware. I have to be focused more than everybody else. 

Bill Whitaker: Diagnosed with profound hearing loss, Coleman relies on lip-reading and his own unique way of communicating with the quarterback. 

Derrick Coleman: He knows to look at me. If he makes an audible at the line of scrimmage, he knows to tell everybody . . . turn back at me just one more time, and he will tell me the play.

Bill Whitaker: It’s the way he’s always played the game.

Derrick Coleman: I’m capable of doing what everybody else can do, and  . . . despite whether I have hearing loss or not.

Bill Whitaker: You’re hearing loss is no excuse.

Derrick Coleman: No, no. You can’t use your problem as an excuse, y’know, because . . . uh, you use it as an excuse, you’re not going to get to your dream.

Bill Whitaker: He was taught that philosophy at an early age. ‘Turns out, to really know Derrick Coleman’s story, you have to meet the parents. His mother, May Hamlin and father, Derrick Coleman Sr., were worried when their son began losing his hearing at the age of 3.

Derrick Coleman Sr.:  You feel that . . . that uncertainty, that fear as a parent, y’know, is my child gonna be OK?

May Hamlin: He was definitely teased, uh, he was bullied, y’now, they were calling him ‘four ears’ . . .

Derrick Coleman: My mom always said ‘people who make fun of you . . . trying to bring you down, are already down . . . they’re trying to bring you to their level.

Bill Whitaker: These days, Coleman wears a skull cap  to keep his hearing aids in place under his helmet. As a kid, he had to improvise. 

May Hamlin: I took a pair of my pantyhose and I cut the pantyhose and I tied the top of it and I said ‘well let’s see if this works, and if this holds ’em in’, and lo and behold, it worked.

Derrick Coleman: A lot of people say ‘Oh. your football career started with some pantyhose’- I’m like, well, everybody has their story and that just happens to be mine.

Bill Whitaker: By the time he reached high school in souther California, it was Coleman’s athletic ability, not his disability, that garnered attention.

Derrick Coleman Sr.: I was like, ‘Wow this kid can , he can play football’ . I would be running up and down the field right alongside with him, so at that point you started to feel it, you’re like ‘Hey, he . . . he has something.

May Hamlin: ‘Look at him! Oh my God, go!’  and he knew exactly where I sat . . . I couldn’t sit around people in fear that they would say something negative about his hearing. He knew exactly where I sat, all the way at the top, all alone by myself.

Derrick Coleman: I always knew she was in that corner.

Bill Whitaker: Despite his college stats – he rushed for 17 hundred yards and scored 19 touchdowns for UCLA, he was passed over in the NFL draft.

Derrick Coleman: Maybe it’s just a blessing in disguise.

Bill Whitaker: He was invited to try-out for the Seahawks.

Derrick Coleman: A bad thing happened, I didn’t get drafted . . . well . . . there was an opportunity right after that to go prove to them . . . prove them wrong that they should have drafted me, they should have gotten me.

Bill Whitaker: I think you proved it.

Derrick Coleman: Oh yeah, I’m proving it now, but I still got a long way to go.

Derrick Coleman voiceover from Duracell ad: I was picked on  [other kid calls him ‘four ears’] and picked last.

Bill Whitaker: Coleman’s Duracell commercial has over 4 million views in only 5 days. 

Derrick Coleman voiceover from Duracell ad: And now I’m here with the loudest fans in the NFL cheering me on . . . and I can hear them all.

Bill Whitaker: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says the ad is inspiring and he’s already seen Coleman’s positive impact on others.

Pete Carroll: I’ve seen Derrick talk to kids before that have the same kinds of issues that they deal with, and he’s an extraordinary model, and he’s got a great message.

Bill Whitaker: A big dream has to be  just sittin’ out there . . .the Super Bowl.

Derrick Coleman: Well within reach, but , um, I’m probably gonna work hard all week. That’s the Vince Lombardi trophy that I could touch, right there, y’know. How many people get a chance to do that?

Bill Whitaker: For CBS This Morning, Bill Whitaker, Bellevue, Washington.

[In Studio] CBS News This Morning anchor Norah O’Donnell: He’s awesome.

CBS News This Morning anchor Charlie Rose: Oh man, he’s good isn’t he? Yeah! One more story of the power of the human will, y’know?

Norah O’Donnell: Absolutely, and . . .  and not only because of his hearing loss, but then he didn’t get drafted and he said ‘that’s just one more opportunity to prove myself’.

Charlie Rose: And that lovely mother sitting up there in the stands where he knew exactly where she was sitting.

Norah O’Donnell: Great parents . . . great parents.

AbledPeople photo shows a close up of a hearing aid on the ear of of a young girl at the Listen and Talk non-profit in Seattle. The hearing aid has e decal of the Seattle Seahawks logo with the number 40 painted on it in honor of Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman.

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