By Jesse Pinkston Santos
It is believed that once you put your mind to something, your possibilities in life are endless.
What if you have a disability, could that stop you from achieving your goals and dreams? No.
We have heard about and seen people all over the world on television and social media who compete and pursue their passions with prosthetics, mental illness, blindness, cerebral palsy, and many other disabilities. German composer Ludwig van Beethoven composed some of his greatest work when he was completely deaf.
Seventeen-year-old JFK Islanders defensive end Jared Deleon Guerrero is no exception. Although Jared is deaf, he has not let that stop him from playing football, rugby and even excelling in ballroom dancing.
Contracting meningitis at the young age of two months old, Deleon Guerrero completely lost his hearing.
“At first, I was in denial and afraid that he would struggle a lot growing up, having a communication barrier with others,” stated his mother Rosalind who is a kindergarten teacher at Finegayan Elementary. “I always support Jared in all his endeavors, never doubting him or having any fears. Never limit your children because of what they can’t do. Instead, encourage them to make the best in life with the things that they can do.”
Described by his mother as “very funny who loves to joke around with his friends and family” and a “go-getter”, Jared does not hold back, nor does he put himself down because of his disability.
Not only does he play football and rugby, but he is also into carpentry and did ballroom dancing for two years at JFK. And to top things off, he was named the Islanders Homecoming King for 2014.
“He’s very graceful. You would never know he was deaf. His dance partners were awesome, helping him by tapping on his shoulders when to start,” said Rosalind.
During the summers he is busy with sports, church, community events as well as working; however, during the first quarter at JFK it is all football.
Coming from a football family, Jared has four brothers, two of which played for JFK from 2006-2011, one who played in youth football and one who currently plays at Okkodo, all who have inspired him to play as well.
“I look up to my brothers and learn from them to be strong and never quit.” While on the field, Jared relies on his sight much more than the average person. “I use visuals to help me on and off the field. Sometimes my teammates and coaches help me to go where I need to…my coaches tell my teammates where to put me on the line. Everyone at JFK and around me have treated me good and help me when I need help.”
In the two years that defensive coordinator Mike Mendiola has coached Jared, he has been nothing short of amazing.
“Not only did we have to get creative in getting the plays to him between downs but making sure he understood and was on the same page. He possesses a natural talent combined with a lot of heart, which in turn makes it easier for us to coach him. We often forget that he has a disability.”
To make life easier on the field, Jared has an interpreter, Jeannie Hollis, who comes to most of his games to sign for him. “It’s good when I have an interpreter because I understand more what my job is. I want to say thank you very much Jeannie for being there for me. You make it easier for me to focus on the game and do my best!”
For Rosalind, she can attest that she has not faced any challenges with having a deaf son. “Quite the contrary, he is a blessing, a joy, and an inspiration to all he comes in contact with. He refuses to let his disability keep him from success.”
Jared is truly something special and the world could use a lot more people like him. He has proven that a disability is hindering only if you let it be and the sky really is the limit for anyone who dares enough to dream.
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