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Welcome Home Jacob Landis

Fri, 10/04/2013

Jacob Landis Comes Home after Hitting a Home Run for Hearing Loss
Annapolis, MD – October 2, 2013

Jacob Landis (24), the amazing young man who logged 10,666 miles on his bike in 175 days and who suffered a near-deadly crash on the final leg of his trip, was welcomed home at the Annapolis Whole Foods at Annapolis Town Centre at Parole on October 2. Jacob was on a trek to visit every Major League Baseball park in the country and raise money for people who need help paying for hearing assistive technology such as cochlear implants. Each year, 12,000 babies are born in the United States with a hearing loss and Jacob wants to help ensure they all have the same chance as he did to receive a cochlear implant. He began losing his hearing at age 2, got his first hearing aids in kindergarten, and received his implant at age 10.

Jacob and Delegate Steven Schuh
Jacob and Delegate Steven Schuh

“Jacob’s Ride” was conceived by Jacob and born out of his love for baseball and cycling. Jacob’s ride gelled because of support from his parents, Randy and Lois Landis, his family, friends, the local business community, the Gift of Hearing Foundation, and public figures such as Mayor Josh Cohen, Delegate Herb McMillan, and Delegate Steven Schuh. In addition, numerous sponsors and supporters, including the Hearing Loss Association of America, helped make Jacob’s dream a reality.

“What Was Your Favorite Ballpark?”
Executive Director Anna Gilmore Hall attended the event and addressed the crowd. She also had the chance to welcome Jacob personally and ask him what was his favorite ballpark that he visited. He said that it was Orioles Stadium at Camden Yards in Baltimore, and a close second was Coors Stadium in Denver.

Anna and Jacob
Jacob and HLAA Executive Director Anna Gilmore Hall

Jacob had several memorable moments. One of them was in St. Louis at Busch Stadium. Before the game, he visited children at three schools for kids with hearing loss and more than 300 kids and their parents showed up for the game. His onsite celebrity status interrupted the fans trying to watch the game and the crowd had to be moved to their own area.

At an Atlanta Braves game, he met Pitcher Craig Kimbrel whose nephew has a cochlear implant. He was presented with a jersey with autographs of all the players. While in Atlanta, he met a young girl with a cochlear implant whose step-father traveled far just to meet Jacob. Whatever Jacob said, or maybe what he was doing with his bike trip, left an impression on the girl. Her step-father said it changed her life for the better – she had more self-confidence and more self-awareness.

On the last stretch of his trip on the way to a Miami Marlins game Jacob was struck unconscious by a hit-and-run driver when the side mirror of a semi-tractor trailer hit him. Scheduled to ride his bike across the finish line into Marlins Park and throw out the first pitch, he was released from the hospital so he could walk his bike in. He had help throwing out the first pitch from two boys – Dylan and Charlie – who also have cochlear implants.

Finally, Jacob took the stage at his welcome home party in Annapolis. John Lamon, master of ceremonies and former University of Maryland All-American lacrosse player, asked Jacob if he enjoyed being a celebrity.

“It’s about the cause, not me,” he said. Although Jacob realizes his celebrity status has gone miles in creating awareness about the cause and that hearing loss is a major public health issue that needs to be diagnosed and treated.

Jacob recounted the journey and showed appreciation for everyone who helped with a special note to his cousin Jake who went on the road with him in a van loaded with clothes, camping equipment, Jake’s dog, and bike supplies. He said his cousin even ironed his clothes for public appearances after getting complaints from his mother that his clothes were wrinkled when she saw him on TV or the Internet.

He said everything was taken care of, all he had to do was ride his bike. And ride his bike he did, up mountains and down mountains, in 20-degree mornings with wind chill factors, and 105-degree days with soaring heat indexes. He said he kept going because he didn’t want to let anyone down who believed he would finish.

Jacob is a changed man from when he began Annapolis on April 3, 2013, on his ride. His enthusiasm is still apparent. He wants to tell you all about it. He’ll tell you about hard days and great times, but the running theme throughout is how grateful he is to his family, his supporters, and in the end, for just being alive to help others have the gift of hearing just like he has.

He’s not done yet. In the words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Reported by Barbara Kelley, deputy executive director at the Hearing Loss Association of America, and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine.

July/August 2013 HLM cover
Read about Jacob’s Ride in Hearing Loss Magazine.