TACOMA, Wash. -- It was a rare opportunity to meet a hero, to glean inspiration from someone who does what millions of kids yearn to do.
"It actually is really good to meet him," said 10-year-old Aiden Campbell. "I like how he's a football player and he follows his dreams."
Campbell has been told his whole life that becoming a Seahawks football player would always be just that - a dream.
"My grandpa told me that you have to be good of hearing to play for the Seahawks," he said.
Campbell is hearing impaired, as were all of the 100 or students who came to meet running back Derrick Coleman at Tacoma's Baker Middle School on Tuesday. They received his message of "no excuses."
"If you have a dream, if you want to do something with your life, you have to go out there and you have to take it," he told the children.
Coleman speaks from experience. When the roar of the 12th Man reaches deafening levels at the Seahawks stadium, Coleman barely hears any of it. He mysteriously lost his hearing when he was just three-years-old. Coleman grew up embarrassed and picked on, but learned to read lips and with the help of two hearing aids, graduated from UCLA and found his way onto Seattle's roster in his second pro season.
Coleman is the first deaf athlete to play offense in the NFL and scored his first touchdown against the Saints on Monday Night Football earlier this season. He is able to hear plays on the field by using his hearing aids and reading the lips of quarterback Russell Wilson at the line of scrimmage.
"I've been through it all. I've been through what they're going through," he said Tuesday. "I just want to let the kids to know they're not alone."
Coleman considers his disability a gift. One day, Aiden Campbell might as well. For now, an autographed hearing aid box will do and its inspiring words "no excuses" heard loud and clear.
"I never thought I could play football," he beamed. "Now, I'm gonna be on the Seahawks someday!"