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May 26, 2004

Local Deaf Ballplayer Shares Time With Deaf Students

From: - Jacksonville,FL,USA - May 26, 2004

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Suns pitcher Ryan Ketchner is deaf, which makes him a natural attraction for the hearing impaired kids at Clark Jacksonville.

Ketchner (pictured, right) spent some time with the kids, letting them ask questions and get to know him.

"I asked him, 'When you were a little boy, did you go to school to learn to play baseball?'" said 7-year-old Wendell Lewis.

Not only did Ketchner learn to play baseball well, he said he's been able to overcome several obstacles during his life.

Most recently, he's gotten help from the team.

"When a ball is coming to me, my catcher points to third, to first. I don't have much of a problem with that," Ketchner explained.

Though he enjoys giving autographs and having his photo taken with the kids, he also hopes to offer them some valuable life lessons.

"They look up to me. I can be a role model to them," he said.

Ketchner says he tries to be a role model for all kids, especially those with hearing problems.

Clark Jacksonville Director Susan Allen said speakers like Ryan help to expand the children's horizons.

"With hearing aids and giving them a chance to go to regular education, it's a whole new world for them. So it was nice for them to have a deaf role model come in -- someone who's a great baseball player."

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