Manage episode 235578423 series 1247580
Blind Abilities Teen Correspondent Simon Bonenfant introduces us to Anthony Ferraro. Anthony shares his inspiring story of dealing with his blindness and a variety of life's challenges, yet finding his own special means of rising above them all. Join Simon and Anthony as they chronicle Anthony’s early education, following in the footsteps of his father and brother and discovering that wrestling offered him the precise outlet he needed to overcome his anger, the challenges of his disability, and his unique relationship with his family. Anthony rose to become a champion in high school wrestling, is now competing at a world-class level in international Judo competitions and is speaking to youth and parent groups about his journey. Anthony is also a musician, performing publicly with his guitar and vocals, and of course, we include excerpts of Anthony’s music and speeches in this podcast. Also listen as Anthony describes his nonprofit organization whose goal is to influence transition-aged blind youth and their parents to set their goals high and achieve excellence.
Please sit back and enjoy this fascinating, 30-minute chat with Anthony Ferraro.
You can find out about Anthony, request that he speak to your group, follow his athletic achievements as he moves towards the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, and hear his music on his web site, and YouTubePage.:
You can send an email to Anthony at: A@ASFVision.com
* Here is a link to the Trailer for the film about Anthony’s high-school wrestling ambitions, A Shot in the Dark:https://vimeo.com/ondemand/ashotinthedark
* And here is a link to the video made by Anthony’s late brother Oliver about youth dealing with blindness, Find The Light, Shine The Light:https://vimeo.com/28091658
Check out the Blind Abilities Communityon Facebook, the Blind Abilities Page, the Job Insights Support Groupand the Assistive Technology Community for the Blind and Visually Impaired.Full Transcript
Meet Anthony Ferraro - Athlete, Motivational Speaker, Musician and Advocate for Disabled Youth
Pete Lane: Meet Anthony Ferraro.
Anthony Ferraro: My mother and I lived in Chestnut Hill in a one-bedroom apartment. The rest of my family would be home taking care of themselves, so everyone was making a sacrifice.
Pete Lane: Anthony is a motivational speaker.
Anthony Ferraro: My name's Anthony Ferraro and I'm 23 years old. I wasn't treated any differently growing up, by my family at least. I was the youngest of five.
Pete Lane: An athlete.
Anthony Ferraro: My older brother and my dad, they both wrestled so I thought I'd try it out. When I started in seventh grade I was terrible.
Speaker 3: [inaudible]. That's two. That's two. That's two.
There's no more. I'm not losing [inaudible 00:00:33]. That's not the subject anymore. You are a great wrestler, man.
We've all got a lottery ticket.
Anthony Ferraro: I won 122 matches in high school and I won districts twice. I took fourth in the region twice and all these things against sighted kids, not carrying the stigma of you shouldn't be doing this, I didn't listen to that.
Anthony Ferraro: And he said, "Would you consider training for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo?"
Now on the mat we have Anthony Ferraro of the United States of America and he is facing Ishibashi Ganke of Japan.
Pete Lane: A musician.
Anthony Ferraro: Because I'm going where the water going to taste like wine. I'm going where the water going to taste like wine. Though I'm going where ...
Pete Lane: And Anthony is an advocate for blind teenagers and their parents.
Anthony Ferraro: I'm working on building a nonprofit organization, trying to influence transitional youth right now, while at the same time empowering parents to raise children with no limits.
Pete Lane: In an interview conducted by our teen correspondent, Simon Bonenfant.
Simon Bonenfant: It was great to see Oliver and his life and his vision, he truly had a vision.
Pete Lane: Blind Abilities presents: A Chat with Anthony Ferraro.
Simon Bonenfant: Hello Blind Abilities. This is Simon Bonenfant here and I'm here at Saint Lucy Day School for The Blind today and I'm here talking to Anthony Ferraro who is a blind motivational speaker, athlete and a musician. You're doing a lot of things. How are you doing, Anthony?
Anthony Ferraro: I'm doing great, Simon. Thanks for having me.
Simon Bonenfant: Oh, my pleasure. Anthony, why don't we start talking a little bit about yourself. What has your journey been like?
Anthony Ferraro: I was born about a month and a half premature with Leber's congenital amaurosis, which is LCA for short. It's a degenerative eye condition attacking the retina. When this happened my parents were told one thing, not to treat me any differently than any other one of their five children. I'm the youngest of five and I grew up in Spring Lake, New Jersey, which is a small beach town.
Anthony Ferraro: The first thing my parents needed to find was education. They did a lot of research and they found the best place in the country was Saint Lucy Day School for the Blind where you learn Braille and all the tools you need to learn to mainstream essentially into the sighted schools. The first step was reaching out, and it was two hours away from where I grew up.
Simon Bonenfant: Wow.
Anthony Ferraro: My mother and father, they wanted me to get transportation from Spring Lake all the way to Philly every day but the state would not provide it. There was a huge court case at the time and while this was going on my mother and I lived in Chestnut Hill in a one-bedroom apartment during the week. The rest of my family would be home taking care of themselves almost and my dad would get home late from work so everyone was making a sacrifice.
Anthony Ferraro: Finally the court case came to a resolution where they provided transportation for me to go from Spring Lake to Philly every day. That's where I really started, coming to Saint Lucy's and learning the tools to be able to be successful in the real world. When seventh grade came around we thought it was time, after talking to Sister Meg, the principal, and teachers of mine and said I was ready to go into the mainstream school.
Anthony Ferraro: At this time, in seventh grade, I went to H.W. Mountz in Spring Lake. I was the only blind kid in the school and it was a little weird at first. I tried faking not being blind, tried hiding my Braille books under my desk and on my lap to look more normal. It's pretty hard to hide your blindness when you're the only blind person. Then I started ... I needed to find an identity, something to fit in with the other kids and things like that.
Anthony Ferraro: I always used to play soccer and stuff like that, just recreational, with teams and then I realized it wasn't very realistic. My older brother and my dad, they both wrestled. They were really good; my brother took fifth in the state of New Jersey for Christian Brothers Academy.
Simon Bonenfant: Wow, that's great.
Anthony Ferraro: I always looked up to him so I thought I'd try it out. When I started in seventh grade I was terrible, I went about 2 and 12. One of my wins was a forfeit where you just go out and they raise your hand. I remember leaving my last match of seventh grade saying to my dad after losing, "Dad, I've got to get good. I want to be good. I can't just be mediocre at this." He said, "All right, Anthony," just thinking it was me coming off a loss and just feeling sorry. Weeks later I said, "Dad, where's that club?" He's like, "All right, I've got to find it."
Anthony Ferraro: He found a club. The club he found was Rhino Wrestling Club with this guy Mike Malinconico. He wrote an email to him saying, "My son, he's 160 pounds, he's a seventh grader, he's motivated, he wants to learn how to wrestle well. Oh, and one more thing, he's blind." The first thing Mike wrote back was, "That's awesome." He says to this day he doesn't know if that was the right thing to say but that's what he said.
Simon Bonenfant: Yeah, there you go.
Anthony Ferraro: He took the challenge. He wanted it, he wanted to teach me. He even says, he's like, "Training a blind wrestler is a lot easier than training an unmotivated wrestler." Because I was motivated. I used to go every day Monday through Thursday to the club at night from 7 to 9 and then I used to go to a tournament every weekend. The first tournaments I went to I would get so badly beaten I was getting discouraged, but I started telling myself, "You've got this. You've just got to set your goals a little ..." I had these high goals but start having other goals that are realistic at this point in time right now.
Anthony Ferraro: I started telling myself, "Why don't you start trying to score a point. Start there, start little." And then when that started happening I started scoring more than one point and then I started beating kids. I started seeing hard work paying off, all my time and effort that I was putting in every day. I was wrestling sighted kids and they didn't care because I was a little blind kid that was getting tossed around all the time.
Anthony Ferraro: Then I started winning and in eight grade I ended up going 24 and 1, winning the whole championship in middle school. In my championship match I was losing 14 to 3 with 30 seconds left. I was on my feet and I took the kid and threw him right to his back and pinned him. When I wrestle, you have to stay in contact with me at all times, when we break away I have no idea where you are so the referee will blow the whistle and bring you back into the center. No one ever complained about this until that day when the kid's dad came over to my dad and said, "You know, your son has an unfair advantage. He doesn't belong in this sport and he should go try the Special Olympics or just try a different sport, it's not fair to my son that he has to stay in contact." This was really discouraging because I just worked so hard and I'm beating these kids.
Simon Bonenfant: And you won.
Anthony Ferraro: Yeah, I won.
Simon Bonenfant: Right, yeah.
Anthony Ferraro: That's it. I didn't let it affect me too much. At this time my brothers both went to Christian Brothers academy. I had a handwritten letter of acceptance to go there and they were getting my books Brailled for high school.
Simon Bonenfant: Okay, that was high school.
Anthony Ferraro: Yeah.
Simon Bonenfant: Okay, I wasn't clear about that.
Anthony Ferraro: This was an eighth grade match but I'm about to transition into high school and I find out that the president who wrote that letter died over Christmas time in my eighth grade year and they then sent a letter saying, "Anthony is no longer accepted. He will not fit into the culture or the environment," things like this. It was once again really discouraging. The first time I was told I couldn't do something because of my visual impairment, couldn't go to a place I wanted to go to.
Anthony Ferraro: As a 14-year-old kid it's really hard to hear. Life's not fair and it's one of your first real close encounters with that. I just kept wrestling and going to my club and training hard. One day I got a phone call from St. John Vianney and it's the wrestling coach. He said he heard about me and he would really love to get me to go to this school. He fought and fought and finally they were going to provide the accommodations and get my books Brailled. I ended up going to this school, St. John Vianney, in Holmdel, New Jersey.
Anthony Ferraro: When I went there, once again the only blind kid, but this time I didn't know a single person. I really felt almost alone, but training and wrestling really gave me an identity.
Simon Bonenfant: An outlet for you.
Anthony Ferraro: Yes, an outlet to express myself and to just get some anger out too because I was a little angry as a kid just being blind and not understanding why or what's going on, why are these things happening to me. Wrestling really just ... Watching myself grow and get better, it was like the blindness didn't matter. I started going to St. John Vianney and making a name for myself. I think my freshman year I went 19 and 5 on varsity. My sophomore year they elected me as a captain, I was the first ever three-year captain on varsity there. I won the district championship as a sophomore, I won it again as a junior. When I won it as a junior, my brother Oliver went to film school actually.
Simon Bonenfant: Yeah, we'll talk about him.
Anthony Ferraro: Yeah. He took a short interview of me, about two minutes, just talking about what it was like to be a blind wrestler, a blind just teenager and dealing with some adversity in life. He had a vision, he posted this and said, "This is my little brother and I want to make a film about him. If you are a camera operator, a producer, anything, please contact me because I don't have all the resources to do this."
Anthony Ferraro: After my junior year winning the districts it was posted and a guy who was a teammate of my high school wrestling coach in college reached out, who is a film producer, independent, and he said, "What are you doing with this? It's really amazing, this story." My brother told him, "Not doing anything. Don't have the resources, blah, blah, blah." They ended up having a meeting and sitting down, talking it over, and then deciding that they would do a full feature-length documentary about my senior year, following me around in high school, wrestling, things like that, and trying to become the first blind state champion in New Jersey.
Anthony Ferraro: My senior year goes on, I do all these things. I worked very hard and sometimes you don't meet your high goal. At the end of the year when I looked back I took second in the district and fourth in the region so if I were to take third in the region I would have went to the states, but I just missed it in overtime.
Anthony Ferraro: After I realized I won 122 matches in high school, I won districts twice, I took second in districts and I took fourth in the region twice. All these things against sighted things, not carrying the stigma of you shouldn't be doing this or you have an unfair advantage, I didn't listen to that.
Anthony Ferraro: They filmed everything my senior year and after they kind of put it on the shelf. I did an article for ESPN my senior year and I got reached out by a blind guy named Erik Weihenmayer who read the article. He reached out to me saying he had a similar story, he wrestled, doing all these things. He asked me if I would consider going to hike in Peru up 16,000 feet on a trail called the Lares Trek. It would take four days and then you would go see Machu Picchu after that and work with orphanages and do all this community service. I took the challenge right away, I said this is an unbelievable experience opportunity, so I did that.
Anthony Ferraro: I then went to college, I went to the College of New Jersey after that summer. I wrestled for about a year and a half, then my sophomore year of college I received a concussion in wrestling and I stopped wrestling. I stopped going to college because I wanted to figure out what it is I wanted to do.
Anthony Ferraro: Then I moved to California for about a year and a half and I lived there with some friends. I was just working and trying to figure things out. In 2015 Chris Suchorsky, the film producer, he took the film off the shelf and he was like, "You know, there's a story here and I need to finish this because it's been hanging over my head." He put together the first 15 minutes of this film and he loved what he had. He thought there was going to be a great story and then he planned to meet with my brother, Oliver, to show him the first 15 minutes.
Anthony Ferraro: The day before they were supposed to meet, Oliver passed away in his sleep at the age of 27 and he never got to see any of the film he created and filmed. But Chris, at Oliver's funeral, he vowed to my family that no matter what it took he would finish this film.
Anthony Ferraro: I move home from California and it's Christmastime and I get home one night and I end up finding my mother at the bottom of the stairs in a coma. She had fallen down the stairs and cracked her head. I rushed her upstairs, I called the hospital, ambulance came and she was in a coma for about two months. The doctors told me it would take forever for her to get back to herself, it's going to be a huge transition. In about six months my mom was walking, she was talking, no problem.
Simon Bonenfant: That's terrific.
Anthony Ferraro: She was yelling at me when my room was dirty, all these things. She's now driving again, she goes to yoga every day. She had a miraculous recovery.
Anthony Ferraro: Fast-forward a little, Chris puts the trailer for the film that he created on this website called Kickstarter.
Speaker 5: Wrestling to me is the hardest sport. Honestly, it's the toughest thing I ever did in my life.
Speaker 6: I think wrestlers are the marine corps of all high school and college sports. I think it's the greatest sport.
Speaker 7: If a basketball game gets really, really heated they might push each other. That's where we start.
Anthony Ferraro: Kickstarter, you have 30 days to raise the goal of the money that you put. We put $35,000 but we really needed about 70 to finish the film. But if you don't raise your goal then Kickstarter takes it all, so we put 35 and we raised that money in about four days and six hours.
Simon Bonenfant: Wow, that's great. I remember when this happened.
Anthony Ferraro: Yeah.
Simon Bonenfant: [crosstalk]
Anthony Ferraro: Yeah. It got about a million views, the trailer, on Facebook and all over social media.
Speaker 8: No doubt in my mind he's got it in him.
Speaker 9: Right to his back! Right to his back!
Anthony Ferraro: I plan on being the first blind state champion.
Speaker 10: If all goes well, Anthony should accomplish that goal. I really don't see why he wouldn't.
Speaker 11: Come on. Come on.
Speaker 12: Go Anthony! 13 seconds! Add 13 seconds!
Anthony Ferraro: We ended up raising $85,000 to finish the film and Chris finished it. While this was going on, the film was circulating, the trailer and all these views. One of the people that saw it was the United States Olympic Committee. One day I'm sitting at my house just hanging out and I get a phone call. I'm like, "Hello?" They're like, "Hi, this is so-and-so from the United States Olympic Committee." Right away in my head I'm thinking, you have the wrong number. "We saw your trailer and we see the talent you have in wrestling." Unfortunately, wrestling is no longer in the Paralympics, which is pretty insane because it was one of the original Olympic sports. He said, "Judo is the next best thing, it's a martial art. It's similar to wrestling with throws and then they incorporate chokes and armbars.
Anthony Ferraro: He said, "Would you consider training for the 2020 Paralympics on Tokyo to try and quality to compete there?" He said, "You would go around the world competing in these tournaments." At the time I was kind of seeing all the stuff with the film, I was like, you know, I didn't do what I wanted to do. I didn't have my goal met. I just was feeling like I want to get after it again, I want something to chase, I want a big goal. For it to change from trying to be the best in the state to trying to be the best in the world, it's an unbelievable opportunity.
Anthony Ferraro: The first person I called was Mike Malinconico and I said, "Mike, I got a call from the Paralympic Committee asking me if I would train Judo." He said, "Shut up and go do it." That's exactly what I did. I took his advice and I ran with it.
Anthony Ferraro: Since then I've been training Judo for about two years. I've won nationals, a national champion and I'm on the Paralympic world team. I fought in my first world championship in Portugal in November and I have my next world championship coming up actually in about three weeks from now in Azerbaijan.
Speaker 6: Now on the mat we have Anthony Ferraro of the United States of America and he is facing Ishibashi Genki of Japan. Beautiful movement of Ferraro here scoring a Wazaari score with a right seoi nage technique. He was making great use of the movement of Ishibashi. Ishibashi was going in for a right hip throw for uchi mata. Ferraro was making use of that movement by coning under and scoring a Wazaari ...
Anthony Ferraro: This opportunity, it's really a great opportunity. Going around, having this platform where you can really influence people. You can go two ways with it, positive or negative. I'm choosing to be positive to help people achieve their goals and motivate people. Something I say is, the only disability is a bad attitude. It's true. I know people in wheelchairs climbing rock walls, going mountain climbing, all these things. And then I know people that have no visible disability, nothing wrong with them except they have a bad attitude and just sit around and make excuses and feel sorry for themselves.
Anthony Ferraro: Right now something I'm working on while I go around doing motivational speaking ...
Anthony Ferraro: I used to skateboard, I still do sometimes. I used to surf, just because people tell me I couldn't so I was like, "Oh, watch me." I used to ride bikes until I kept hitting parked cars. It's like, I just kept going, I wouldn't let the visual impairment, being blind, affect me.
Anthony Ferraro: I'm a guitar player. I play in local bars and restaurants.
Anthony Ferraro: Living in Brooklyn, New York right now.
Simon Bonenfant: Great.
Anthony Ferraro: Yeah, so it's really a lot of fun and it's a great opportunity. Teaching people that life can hit hard, but you have to keep going because there's a light on the other side. God has really put His hand in my life where He has just given me these blessings. You turn to God when things go wrong and you say, why are You taking from me? Why is this stuff happening to me, blah, blah, blah. But one day God just ... I'm asking him these things and I turn around and He's like, look at everything I'm giving you. Look at all this stuff. He's like, yeah Ollie was your brother but he's my son. I can't hold on to that anger or that resentment, I have to learn to love through it all.
Anthony Ferraro: Right now I'm working on building a nonprofit organization actually. I'm trying to influence transitional youth right now to set goals high and push past life's obstacles while at the same time empowering parents and adult influencers to raise children with no limits. Labels are limiting. If you tell someone they can't do something, sometimes they're not going to do it just because you told them. I was the opposite. When someone told me something, you can't do that, blah, blah, blah, I'd go, "Watch me."
Simon Bonenfant: You used that as a challenge to do it. Yeah, and do it the best.
Anthony Ferraro: Exactly.
Simon Bonenfant: To prove them wrong. Yep. There you go.
Anthony Ferraro: To prove myself wrong too, to know that I can do it. I grew up with 60 cousins.
Simon Bonenfant: Wow.
Anthony Ferraro: My mom's the second oldest of 13. She never raised me any differently. I would be at the store as a kid and I'd say, "Mom, I want this toy or something." She'd be like, "All right. Here's five bucks. Go find the counter and pay for it." I'd be like, "Are you kidding me? I don't know where it is. I'm scared. Help me." Looking back, it empowered me to be able to advocate for myself, which is very important. Where I am now, it's been a long journey so far and I'm only 24 years old.
Simon Bonenfant: Wow, that is amazing.
Anthony Ferraro: I'm just so excited to see what's next and what's more to come. I'm just embracing life and enjoying every minute of it. It's not always easy either, but you have to acknowledge those hard times and feel it and get through it.
Simon Bonenfant: I'd like to go back and just talk about your family a little bit to give listeners some context. I actually went to the same school as you, Saint Lucy School, that's where I went to for grade school as well as you. I know your mother and your brother Oliver very well. Your mother was the art teacher here at the school, so I've known her for a very long time. Just describing the way she raised you and the stuff that she instilled in you, when you were telling me that I was like, yep that's Mrs. Ferraro right there, that's who she is. She's just a very loving person but a pushing person to push through the challenge and giving support through it. She's a very good person and it sounds like a very inspirational person in your life as well.
Anthony Ferraro: Absolutely.
Simon Bonenfant: Your brother Oliver actually did a documentary with me and some of the other students at Saint Lucy School about eight or nine years ago called Find the Light and Shine the Light.
Speaker 14: If I could see I would feel like ... You know what? I'm not meant to see. Something's telling me that I'm not meant to see. What I'm meant to be is to perform and to take people's breath away. That's what I'm meant to be. I'm not meant to be visual, I'm meant to cheer up people inside people's hearts. I'm not meant to be visual and light up their smile, I'm meant to be the smile in their heart. I'm meant to be their healing. I'm meant to be the happiness in people's hearts, that's what I'm meant to be, I feel like.
Simon Bonenfant: I'll actually include a link into the show notes for the podcast of that as well as your film that just got released, I'll put links into there. That documentary that he did of me really captures a lot of what I say and your message as well. I've known Oliver, I had the pleasure of knowing him and he was an absolute inspiration, very inspirational.
Anthony Ferraro: Thank you for saying that. That documentary, the Find a Light, Shine a Light, that one gives me chills every time I watch it. The way he was able to transcend that message through you guys and the way you guys spoke, it made things clear and it was just so beautiful to see.
Simon Bonenfant: Oh yeah. Yeah, it was great. It was great to see Oliver and his life and his vision. He truly had a vision for his life and for you. He was able to create these films and do this very well. He always set his goals as high as well as you. I remember talking with him throughout the years and hearing the stuff that he was up to, and it was very good stuff. He was just a motivational guy as well.
Anthony Ferraro: Oliver was a ... He was a hustler, you know?
Simon Bonenfant: Oh yeah, he was.
Anthony Ferraro: He worked so hard. He was self-made to say the least. I remember he bought a house at 25 years old in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey. He was a funny guy. The things he would get, I remember it was almost like a status thing when he bought a Rolex, he was all pumped. He just worked hard for the things he had. He loved people.
Simon Bonenfant: He did.
Anthony Ferraro: He loved people so much and he was able to tell their story almost for them in such a beautiful way and he saw that. He would see the beauty in everything. He was even the guy who when people were talking bad about someone he would challenge them and be like, "Why do you really think that because I think this about that person." And really show their positivity and the good things about them.
Simon Bonenfant: That's great. It sounds like that is in you too, that drive, that motivation, and you're a people person too, you like people.
Anthony Ferraro: Absolutely.
Simon Bonenfant: You're good with people. That's great.
Anthony Ferraro: I feel when I lost him that I really, really embodied a lot of him.
Simon Bonenfant: You did.
Anthony Ferraro: He's there all the time.
Simon Bonenfant: Oh yeah.
Anthony Ferraro: I'm traveling all the time. I just got back from Germany two weeks ago from a tournament and I just feel him everywhere around the world. I've had the pleasure these past two years to go to Tokyo, to Brazil, to Germany, to Portugal, all these places and it's just such a blessing because it's from his vision and our vision that I'm able to fulfill this and do these things because he sort of paved this roadmap for me where he's like, "All right, well I started it for you, you've got to finish it and figure the rest out." Now I'm here like, "Oh, can you come back and help me with some of this stuff?" But it's really beautiful what I have in front of me.
Simon Bonenfant: Oh yeah. It's great that you're keeping his legacy going and the man behind the film as well.
Anthony Ferraro: You have to.
Simon Bonenfant: That's great.
Anthony Ferraro: Thank you.
Simon Bonenfant: He's proud of you and all of the stuff you're doing.
Simon Bonenfant: You've been able to accomplish a lot of amazing things. As we all have some fears and doubts, was there ever a time for you where in any of your accomplishments you've had any fears or doubts and how did you deal with that? How did you push past some of those obstacles in your own mind?
Anthony Ferraro: Some of the things I dealt with, like I said too, was just the things people would say against me. It would make me question that, like am I good enough? Do I really have an unfair advantage? Am I really just lucky or these things. You have to dig deep in yourself and realize who you are. A lot of it was soul searching and really pushing past people's stigma of what they think should be.
Simon Bonenfant: What do you talk about now in your motivational speaking? Are you going to tell your story?
Anthony Ferraro: I talk about where we get given these obstacles or these challenges but what we do with them really defines us in the end, how we overcome. Some people will back down from a challenge when something comes up in life and that will keep happening, we create these habits. I learned things from wrestling that stick with me today, the things like I wasn't able to eat certain things, I wasn't able to eat for a whole day at times, always being on time, showing up, being a leader, leading by example, not always screaming but leading by your actions, things like that. Pushing past obstacles and how the only disability is a bad attitude.
Anthony Ferraro: Because we all have a purpose and we all have a story. We're the author of our story, we have to write it, it's our job. How do we want to deal with adversity? Are we going to give up or are we going to push through it and break down the barriers and keep going? That really defines your person on the other side.
Simon Bonenfant: That's great. Who would you say has been, or maybe still is, the most influential person who had supported you in all the decisions and keeps supporting you?
Anthony Ferraro: My brother Oliver, 100%. Seeing his drive and how he loved people and how he just lived. He lived to the fullest. He died at 27 but it felt like he lived for a hundred years. I just want to honor that. I want to keep living, I don't want to give up ever and I want to keep pushing and I want to keep creating. I just want to love people and to be a good person every day of my life and be a better person every day.
Anthony Ferraro: Another person who taught me that is my father, who obviously Ollie must have gotten it from. Those two have really just been so influential in my life. And then also my mother, just how she wouldn't take crap for anything. She made you go do it. She made you go out and advocate for yourself. She wasn't going to feel sorry for me. Blindness wasn't an excuse for anything. Those people really just resonate in my life.
Simon Bonenfant: That's great. What advice would you give to someone who is blind or visually impaired and is coming up either in high school or college or transitioning into work. What general advice would you give to someone who is coming up in the next generation?
Anthony Ferraro: Just to learn and just enjoy the journey. You have these goals and they're ahead of you, sometimes you just want to fast forward to the goal, you want to get there right now. I realize looking back in high school and things when I wouldn't be happy with my accomplishment because I didn't think it was good enough or whatever. Sometimes you miss the journey along with it and that's the best part. Right now I'm training and trying to be the best in the world, an Olympic champion.
Anthony Ferraro: That's great and all, but I'm enjoying right now, I'm enjoying today, I'm enjoying being here with you, being at Saint Lucy's, it's my home. Just living in the moment and also working towards that goal, but definitely to enjoy the process because it's the most beautiful part and you might miss some things if you don't stay in the moment and the best things will happen when you're just there.
Simon Bonenfant: Oh yeah, that's very good advice. I think that's great for all of us because staying in the moment is very key because we've got to think, we can't get this back. Every minute we've got to spend and we've got to enjoy it by living in the present.
Anthony Ferraro: Absolutely.
Simon Bonenfant: Live in the present. That's great. Where would someone find a link or is there a website where someone can find your film and purchase it, because it's now a full film, correct?
Anthony Ferraro: Yeah. Actually I've created a website. My partner Kelly, who I'm building my nonprofit with, she helped me build the website. We document all the things that are going on social media as well. The website is asfvision.com and if you go there all the links are across the top of the website. They'll see a YouTube account, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, SoundCloud for the music and the link to the film called A Shot in the Dark, which is right now on Vimeo and should be on iTunes very soon.
Anthony Ferraro: If you go on the website, asfvision.com, that will have everything they need. That's also, ASF Vision, is the nonprofit that's in the process of building right now and that nonprofit is essentially going to be a big brother for anyone trying to do things and might not have the resources to do these things and having someone come in and give them almost a roadmap and helping them, saying, "You can do this." Providing what they need.
Simon Bonenfant: That's great. Do you have an email address that you wouldn't mind sharing if anyone would like to contact you.
Anthony Ferraro: Absolutely. My email address is just firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simon Bonenfant: All right. That's very good. Hey Anthony, I'd like to thank you for coming on and talking with me and I'm sure the Blind Abilities listeners will enjoy it a lot. You are truly an inspiration to all of us and I think you for taking the time. It's been fun.
Anthony Ferraro: All right. Thank you, Simon, it's always a pleasure to be with you.
Anthony Ferraro: Feeling so damn low, I ain't going to be treated this old way.
Anthony Ferraro: Thank you.
Pete Lane: For more podcasts with a blindness perspective, check us out on the web at www.blindabilities.com. We're on Twitter, we're on Facebook, and be sure to check out our free app in the Apple app store and the Google Play store.
If you would like to know more about Transition Services from State Services contact Transition Coordinator Sheila Koenig by email or contact her via phone at 651-539-2361. To find your State Services in your State you can go to www.AFB.org and search the directory for your agency.
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