IM this article to a friend!

November 18, 2004

Taylor's Salamone going to Gallaudet

From: Cincinnati Enquirer - Cincinnati,OH,USA - Nov 18, 2004

For blind, deaf wrestler, college chance a 'surprise'

By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer

When the envelope arrived in the mailbox this spring, Shawn Salamone couldn't wait to open it.

But he did.

"This is too important to open in the car," Carol Salamone recalled her grandson telling her that day. "I want to be at home when I open this letter."

Inside the envelope was an acceptance letter from Gallaudet University for the 2005 fall semester. The four-year liberal arts school in Washington, D.C., specializes in teaching deaf and hearing-impaired students.

For Salamone, a senior wrestler at Taylor High, it's where he had his heart set on going.

The 18-year-old, who had a 22-17 record in the 125-pound division last season and is 59-47 overall at Taylor, was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome in the summer of 1993. It's a rare genetic disorder that affects an estimated 15,000 people in the United States, and has left Salamone deaf, legally blind and with cataracts in both eyes.

"I was surprised," Salamone said of his admission to Gallaudet University, where he plans to study psychology and try out for the school's Division III wrestling team. "I didn't really think I would get that far."

The Lions Club of Price Hill is holding a dinner to honor Salamone's achievements this evening at the Metropolitan Club in Covington. WCPO-TV sports director John Popovich will be the keynote speaker.

Lions Club member John Tolos, who also serves on the board of trustees at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, has spearheaded efforts to help secure enough funds to cover the estimated $100,000 cost of tuition for four years.

"His story strikes a chord," Tolos said. "It's just compelling."

Salamone visited Gallaudet with his grandparents, Carol and Larry, earlier this year and has received some financial assistance from the school. He was one of only three incoming freshmen awarded a $6,000 presidential scholarship upon admission.

"When I got it," he said, "I thought it was too good to be true."


Copyright 1995-2004. The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.