Derrick Coleman has a lifelong fan in this little girl from New Jersey. Coleman, the deaf fullback for the Super Bowl bound Seattle Seahawks, received a touching tweet after the team’s big win Sunday from hearing impaired girl Riley Kovalcik, 9, of Roxbury, N.J.
“I know how you feel. I also have hearing aids,” Kovalcik, who started losing her hearing at the age of 1, wrote in the tender note. “I have faif (sic) in you Derrick good Job on January 20th game.”
A photo of Kovalcik’s heartwarming handwritten letter — posted from her father Jake Kovalcik’s Twitter account on Tuesday — quickly circulated around the Internet and caught the attention of the Seahawks and Coleman, who penned his own response to his more than 23,000 followers.
“Really was great hearing from a friend who I have so much in common with,” the gritty gridiron gladiator wrote on Wednesday. “Even though we wear hearing aids, we can still accomplish our goals & dreams! If you or your family ever in Seattle, I hope we can all get together & play some sports or games!”
Riley’s initial message has been recirculated more than 1,100 times in just one day. Her dad expressed disbelief at how much attention his little girl’s letter attracted. “The only reason I put the tweet out was so that he can get to see that he's an inspiration for my kids,” the doting dad told the Daily News. “I don't think she's ever written to anyone like that, ever.”
Coleman was recently featured in a slick Duracell commercial that chronicled his amazing journey from bullied deaf youngster to football sensation. Prior to the commercial, Coleman’s hearing impairment was a relative secret.The fullback has always given a stiff-arm to adversity, he has previously said. “He's been so successful. He's somebody to look up to and he made her feel like hearing aids are cool,” Kovalcik, 41, who works in sales for Under Armour.
Both Riley and her twin sister Erin have been severely hearing impaired for most of their lives. The father of three said that he has tried to teach Riley that she is “unique” — but not disabled — for losing her hearing so early in her life. “She's a really confident little kid — this is a peek into what she's thinking on a daily basis,” the father said. “It kind of broke my heart, really, she's my daughter.
Later in the adorable note, Riley lists hearing aids and a love of sports things her and Coleman have in common. “After we saw the battery commercial on Derrick Coleman and the 20th's game, I was very inspired,” little Riley told The News. “Now I'm looking forward to seeing the Super Bowl.”