Jacob Landis is a 23-year old Annapolitan who was deaf at age 10 and has since regained his hearing with a cochlear implant. The implant quite literally changed his life and yesterday afternoon at 1:30pm he took off on a 10,000 mile journey that will span 175 days and 30 major league baseball stadiums. Along the way he hopes to raise $1,000,000 to help others regain the gift of hearing.
When Jacob was two, his mother felt his speech development was slow and took him for his first hearing test. Over the next three years, Jacob’s hearing continued to deteriorate and he was fitted with his first hearing aids in kindergarten. By fourth grade, hearing aids were no longer helping Jacob hear. A good student reading above grade level and a math whiz, Jacob became increasingly frustrated, angry and withdrawn. He quit playing the team sports he loved, baseball and soccer. One evening Jacob burst into tears when he saw his sister and brother running to answer the telephone and realized he could no longer hear it ring.
When his parents began taking him to John Hopkins Hospital to determine whether or not cochlear implants would work for him, Jacob had already endured over 600 appointments with ENT doctors, audiologists and other specialists in his short lifetime. In June 1999 when he was 10 years old, Jacob had cochlear implant surgery. The first sounds Jacob heard was his dad’s voice asking “Jake, what does it sound like?”
Jacob went on to attend middle school, high school and college as a regular student. He earned an associate degree from Anne Arundel Community College and has attended classes at the University of Maryland. Jacob now works full time in the audible world as he decides how he will further his college education.
Since his CI, Jacob has come to believe his deafness has a special purpose. He is fully aware of the difference CI has made in his life and is profoundly grateful. Over the years, Jacob has met with hundreds of cochlear implant candidates and their families. He has spoken at medical conferences and to college engineering students about the designing of devices for those with special needs.
In recent years, Jacob has become a serious baseball fan. A season ticket holder with the Baltimore Orioles, Jacob usually attends between 20 & 30 games a year. He has also become an avid and regular bicyclist. Although a licensed driver, Jacob now rides to school, to work, for exercise and to many of the Orioles ballgames in Baltimore 30 miles from home.
In October 2012, Jacob decided to combine his three passions—baseball, cycling and helping the hearing impaired–and ride to all 30 baseball stadiums to raise money for those who would benefit from cochlear implants but cannot afford it.
Local Community Comes Together
The local community really pulled together for Jacob and to make his dream come true. Advanced Bionics (the manufacturer of his implant) came on board as a sponsor and is contributing $1 for each Facebook share of Jacob’s story, Brian Johnson of Fitness By Brian took care of the 6 months of intense training needed to prepare for the journey, Bike Doctor of Annapolis and Capital Bicycle provided the specialized bike and needed equipment, Chesapeake Holistic Health offered nutritional information and countless friends, neighbors and business all pitched in to bring Jacob’s goal to fruition.
The Send Off
About 100 people gathered outside of Whole Foods in Annapolis on April 3, 2012 to kick off the ride. All of the regional news stations were there as well as representatives from several hearing and cochlear foundations. Dr. Francis from Johns Hopkins, a cochlear implant expert was on hand to wish Jacob well. Whole Foods prepared a buffet and staged a tent to get the journey started. And of course many friends that were made along the way stood outside the store cheering on Jacob as he headed out on his trip.
The first stop was Nationals Stadium. He will be in Baltimore on Saturday, Philadelphia on Tuesday, and will finish the ride at Marlins Park in Miami as the Miami Marlins take on the Philadelphia Phillies.
How You Can Help
There are plenty of ways you can help. To make this a success, Jacob needs dollars and support.
- Attend the Orioles game with Jacob on Saturday
- Purchase a t-shirt or wrist band
- Become a sponsor
- Share/like/forward/tweet this article, follow him on twitter, and like his facebook page to help spread the word
- Open up Facebook, go to THIS POST and share it–two clicks and Advanced Bionics will donate $1. It makes a difference
No matter what you do–do something.