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Reaching 4 Excellence: Deaf Eagle Scout proves hearing loss is no limitation

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OLATHE, Kan. -- As FOX 4 celebrates outstanding young people and their achievements in our weekly Reaching 4 Excellence reports we often showcase children and teenagers who are overcoming obstacles and adversities, sometimes physical or mental challenges.  Our young achiever this week is an Eagle Scout who has what many people would consider a disability.  But Noah Fahncke respectfully requests that you just get over that.

“The Chasing of Furby” is one of several short silent movies written, produced and edited by the star of the film, Noah Fahncke.  It’s more than a hobby for him.  Self-taught as a filmmaker, Noah’s getting a jump start on what he hopes will be a successful career in the movie industry, behind the camera but especially in front of it, as an actor.

“I want to show you can make movies that don’t have to use sound,” said Noah, this week’s FOX 4 Young Achiever.  “Movies that are very visual in nature.”

And it doesn’t matter at all, says Noah, that he’s never been able to hear.

“People who think deaf people can’t do certain things, it’s not true,” said Noah. “Deaf people can do anything just like hearing people. The only thing they can’t do is hear.”

Noah is a senior at the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe where he’s a fine athlete, and his drive to become a star in the movies led him to Jennifer Carlino’s drama and theater arts classes.  Noah is in his second year of those and Carlino relies on him to help teach other students the artistry of pantomime and other acting skills.

“He’s just a really great, unique person,” said Carlino. “I can definitely visualize him as a famous filmmaker. I believe he’ll be able to do that. I can visualize him telling his stories in a unique way and perspective and the signature he puts on those.”

There are a lot of noteworthy things about Noah, about all that he does at a high level.  But perhaps the most noteworthy is that he is an Eagle Scout.  That’s a pretty exclusive club and even more so for a young man who’s deaf.

“And once I finished all the work,” said Noah, “I became an Eagle Scout and it was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, am I really an Eagle Scout?  Did I do all this?  Did I accomplish all this?’”

“It shows there are no limitations,” said Jeff Smith, Noah’s Scoutmaster.

According to Smith, no special provisions were made for Noah to become an Eagle Scout.  He rose to the challenge, doing everything a typically-hearing Scout has to do, including a major service project.

“He’s really good about communicating with hearing and non-hearing boys,” said Smith. “He’s not just a role model for just deaf people or people. In our troop, with all the hearing boys, he’s just as much a leader and a role model for them.”

Noah is also a strong role model as a counselor at the Sertoma Club Camp Sunshine, a summer camp for deaf children outside Easton, Missouri near St. Joseph.

“We show them they can become smart, wise people when they grow up,” said Noah. “I enjoy working with kids because they learn so quickly.”

Camp counselor and role model, Eagle Scout, athlete, actor and filmmaker, Noah accepts that many people will find it remarkable that he’s overcome deafness to become all that and more.  He’d rather they just don’t consider him limited in any way.

“I just view myself as a person who inspires others and proves to everybody that deaf people can do anything,” said Noah.

There are actually two Eagle Scouts now at Kansas School for the Deaf.  Aryzona Marsh was the first and then Noah. And there soon will be a third; Life Scout Jaeden Rolofson.  The boys are good friends and all of them have done Eagle projects which have improved the school campus.

Fox 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments.  In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism.  Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.

Phil Witt, Fox 4 News