One of the highlights at our 2006 Orlando Convention was hearing Lou Ferrigno speak at the Opening Session. As a skinny teenager (yes, I really was), seeing David Banner transform into a large intimidating figure (The Hulk) sparked my imagination. At the time, of course, I did not know anything about Lou Ferrigno, his story, or how he became the Hulk. At the Opening Session, Lou spoke straight from the heart, and shared his own experiences growing up and living life as a person with a hearing loss. He offered encouragement to anyone and everyone struggling with overcoming life’s challenges.
I was fortunate to get to spend some time with Lou and was struck by several things. In the airport and other public places, Lou has very little time to himself. He is constantly approached by people wanting a picture, or an autograph. Even when I knew he was exhausted, I found him to be gracious and accommodating. Also, Lou’s challenges as a person with a hearing loss are compounded by his public recognition. Imagine trying to focus on hearing a gate announcement at the airport while people are coming up and asking for your autograph. Imagine trying to communicate with a group of people, and everyone is carefully watching and listening to you. Imagine trying to hear what the hotel clerk is saying to you while being approached by people wanting your autograph. The frustration and fatigue of just communicating are a daily struggle for anyone with a hearing loss, but especially so when your focus and concentration are frequently interrupted. It would be awesome to get angry, and be able lift a car off someone, or smash through a wall to save someone from a fire. In the end, though, I find Lou Ferrigno’s personal story more incredible than the fictional character he played on television.