Amid bid for 2020 Paralympics, SJV alum’s story hits big screen

In the 2013 file photo at left, legally blind wrestler Anthony Ferraro takes advice from his head wrestling coach at the time, Patrick Smith, during a dual meet at St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel. Ferraro is the focus of the film, “A Shot in the Dark.” Courtesy photos

By David Karas | Correspondent

St. John Vianney High School alumnus Anthony Ferraro – who is legally blind – had a successful wrestling career during his time at the Holmdel institution, with 122 wins and just 16 losses.

Since his graduation, Ferraro has continued to make a name for himself, both on the big screen and in his present bid for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan.

Ferraro’s story is told through the film, “A Shot in the Dark,” which has been touring a circuit of film festivals and already achieving acclaim – receiving such honors as “Best New Jersey Film” and several “Best Feature Length Film” recognitions.

“It is really just mind blowing to see what it has done so far, even before it came out to the public,” said Ferraro, who hopes the film will help motivate and inspire viewers. “It makes me feel good to reach this many people.”

The film began with Ferraro’s late older brother, Oliver, a producer who saw Anthony’s story as one that should be told to a broader audience.

“It started out with just me and my older brother making a short interview of me in my room when I was a junior in high school,” he said, “taking about what it’s like to be a blind wrestler, and my life and what I do. We always talked about making it into a movie, how awesome it would be.”

Production on the film would later begin with the help of New Jersey-based cinematographer Chris Suchorsky, who quickly saw the potential. The film was later shelved but production resumed, and thanks to the generosity of many donors through online platforms, production was able to be completed.

“Anthony’s story transcends wrestling; it is a motivation journey that highlights the triumph of the human spirit over a lifetime of adversity,” said Patrick Smith, Ferraro’s coach at St. John Vianney who continues to support Ferraro’s journey. “The feedback has been tremendous from those who actually screened the film.”

In sharing Ferraro’s journey, the film shows how the St. John Vianney community rallied around the student – who has been legally blind since birth due to Leber Congenital Amaurosis, which affects the light-detecting cells of the retina.

Ferraro credits his alma mater with helping to facilitate the beginning of his wrestling career.

“If I didn’t end up going there, who knows what would have happened in my life,” he said. “It just felt so welcoming, and they did everything they could to help me. I learned a lot there, and I talk to some of those people to this day.”

These days, Ferraro is traveling the world for competitions as part of his bid to represent the United States in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan. He won a national competition in Texas, and has since been competing as part of a world judo team, most recently in Portugal. He wound up losing a match in overtime in his first world championship tournament, but Ferraro is determined to continue competing and earning qualifying points to help get to the 2020 games.

“It’s a good thing to learn from, and it’s only the beginning of my journey,” he said. “It was just amazing to have this opportunity to be able to train to be one of the best in the world.”

Whether it was on the wrestling mat in Holmdel or halfway around the world, Ferraro has relied on faith to guide him not only through his athletic pursuits, but daily life.

“God plays a big role in my life; I am always praying and talking to him,” he said. “When you have the opportunity to help people and do things on a bigger level, you have to take a leap of faith. It is not an easy road; it’s a little scary at times. You just have to have faith.”

Smith added, “Anthony’s ability to inspire by overcoming adversity has left a legacy here for SJV students to follow. I truly believe that Anthony’s story lives in St. Paul’s words: ‘We walk by faith, not sight.”

For more about Anthony Ferraro, and to view a trailer of “A Shot in the Dark,” visit https://asfvision.com.

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