NEW YORK - A pep rally held at P.S. 347 in Manhattan was more than just a warmup to the New York City Marathon but a chance to cheer on one of their own. Actress Lauren Ridloff, currently starring as Connie on AMC's "The Walking Dead," will be running the marathon on Sunday.
Before becoming an actress, Lauren was a teacher at P.S. 347 for nine years. Ridloff, who is deaf, taught kindergarten and first grade. The school is made up of children who can hear, have partial hearing, or are fully hearing-impaired.
"To be back here to see the community is still here, thriving and alive it's so lovely," Ridloff told FOX 5 News through her interpreter. "I feel like the school has this really unique community. It's one that's so welcoming of different people."
The actress has been training for the marathon since May with a coach from the Brooks Running organization. She has been getting guidance on what to expect as a deaf runner.
"[Ridloff] was thinking about, 'Will there be interpreters at the start line? Will I be able to hear or understand where to go?'" Brooks Running communications manager Alaina Fuld said. "So that's been helpful to us to think through what every runner who is deaf or hard of hearing is experiencing."
Ridloff is also breaking ground in Marvel Studios' "The Eternals" franchise in which she plays Makkari, Marvel's first hearing-impaired live action hero.
She is running the marathon to raise money for her former school and inspire the young students.
"I hope that when people see me as a role model that they can see themselves as their own role models," she said. "As children who grow up in those similar experiences, you can live the way you want to. Don't be afraid to be shy or to dream."