A Lenexa teenager who draws inspiration from what he’s seeing on television is also inspiring others.
Ryan O’Donahue has taken to the dance floor, despite the fact that he’s deaf.
“I started dancing when I was born,” he said. “I love dancing. Music was my passion. Dancing was my passion.”
Being deaf isn’t stopping the 19-year-old. He got a cochlear implant when he was 2 1/2 years old and has been playing catch-up ever since.
He said it’s been an inspiration to watch Nyle DiMarco, the deaf dancer on the current season of “Dancing with the Stars.”
“He’s chasing his dreams,” O’Donohue said. “He has a disability like me.”
Without his implants, O’Donohue hears nothing. Even with them, he doesn’t hear sound the way most people do. His mother said that more than hearing the music, O’Donohue feels it in his heart.
Students like O’Donohue keep teachers like Darren Carpenter on their toes.
“That’s what keeps us going as teachers, the fact that we can change lives and make it easy for Ryan and people like him to say, ‘I can succeed, just like you,’” Carpenter said.
“Everybody deserves a chance to chase their dreams. Everyone does,” O’Donohue said.