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Incredible Talk

GREEN TOWNSHIP -- A famous green monster roared into Green High School Friday afternoon.

Lou Ferrigno, a bodybuilder and actor most famous for playing &uot;The Incredible Hulk&uot; since 1977, paid a visit to Green as part of Deaf Awareness Day 2002.

Ferrigno lost 85 percent of his hearing shortly after birth because of an ear infection.

At noon, Ferrigno met with hearing-impaired students and signed photographs and books for them. Ferrigno said he sees himself as a child when he sees hearing impaired children because he was in the same position.

Teresa Swinesberg, a teacher for hearing impaired students at the school, said her students were excited about Ferrigno’s visit. because every year, they study him as part of deaf culture.

To bring Ferrigno to Green, Swinesberg said the students raised money by selling candy and school memorabilia and businesses such as Southern Ohio Medical Center made donations.

Eight of Swinesberg’s students are hearing-impaired. Their degrees of hearing loss vary, but at least two are considered profoundly deaf.

One of her students is nine-year-old Robert Engle, a boy from Franklin Furnace who was born with no ears. He recently underwent major cosmetic surgery to have new ears built for him. His mother, Rhonda Gordon, brought him from Columbus to meet Ferrigno.

Ferrigno said he hopes the hearing-impaired students will look at his accomplishments and be encouraged to be more confident in themselves.

As for students who are not hearing-impaired, Ferrigno said he hoped those students would learn to overcome whatever obstacles they have.

&uot;Everybody’s handicapped in one way or another. They don’t have to be deaf,&uot; Ferrigno said.

At 1 p.m. Ferrigno spoke to the entire student body at Green. He told stories from his childhood, during which he was very introverted. He started reading comic books and fantasized about being strong, and he later discovered bodybuilding, which he said saved his life.

He once told friends he wanted to be Mr. Universe, and they laughed.

Also during Ferrigno’s speech, he said he did almost everything on his own.

&uot;I really had no one to take my hand and say, ‘Lou, let’s do this’,&uot; Ferrigno said.

Nevertheless, he said his lack of assistance didn’t stop him. &uot;I want to be a doer, not a complainer.&uot;

Joe Rase, school principal, said Ferrigno’s visit lets students know they can also have a future ahead of them.

&uot;It seems that he didn’t accept the word ‘no’,&uot; said Race.

Jennifer Slaughter, an eighth grade student from Green said Ferrigno’s speech emphasized not letting anything, whether or not it be hearing impairment, hold someone down. Slaughter is not hearing-impaired, but she is diabetic. She said it does not keep her from living her life to the fullest.

Twenty years from now, Ferrigno said he would to continue to have impact on the country and continue to be a great role model. He added, &uot;You only live once. Enjoy every day and find ways to fulfill yourself.&uot;

Seth Terkorn, a hearing-impaired high school junior from Green, said he enjoyed meeting a famous person like Ferrigno.

Terkorn added, &uot;When I grow up, maybe I’ll be famous.&uot; Amelia A. Pridemore/The Ironton Tribune