A homerun for hearing
In 2013, Jacob Landis wanted to use his love of cycling and baseball to bike to every major league ballpark, a Homerun for Hearing, in an effort to raise money for children in line for cochlear implants. Unfortunately, his ride was cut short when he was hit by a semi-truck before his last stop, but that didn’t deter him. “We took all the money we raised and we were able to pay for seven kids to get the cochlear implants."
— Jacob Landis, Founder
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A good student reading above grade level and a math whiz, Jacob became increasingly frustrated, angry and withdrawn.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.
By the time his parents began taking him to the Johns Hopkins Listening Center 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. Finally, in June 1999, when he was 10 years old, Jacob had cochlear implant surgery. The first sound Jacob heard was his dad’s voice asking “Jake, what does it sound like?”
The difference having a cochlear implant made in Jacob's life was immeasurable. He could once again participate in his favorite sports and activities. Jacob completed middle school, high school and college as a regular student. He earned an associate's degree from Anne Arundel Community College, and now attends the University of Maryland as a full-time student majoring in Business Administration. Jacob also works full time for Whole Foods in Annapolis.
In addition to being an avid cyclist, Jacob is a serious baseball fan and a season ticket holder with the Baltimore Orioles. In October of 2012, Jacob decided to combine his three passions—baseball, cycling, and helping the hearing impaired—by riding to all thirty U.S. Major League baseball stadiums to raise money for those who can benefit from cochlear implants but cannot afford it. On April 3, 2013, Jacob left the comforts of home and embarked on a nearly 11,000-mile bicycle ride to those stadiums. Jacob's Ride was officially underway.
Six months later, with only two more days of cycling and less than 200 miles to go, Jacob was involved in a hit-and-run accident with a semi-trailer truck. He experienced several injuries which included shattered cheek bones, a broken nose, several broken teeth, and severe nerve damage to his left arm. After a brief hospital detour he was transported to the Jacob's Ride Grand Finale in Miami, where he was greeted by cheering supporters. He vowed he would finish the Ride as soon as it could be arranged.
During 2014, Jacob continued to recuperate and fulfill his mission. He made approximately 40 public appearances and met thousands of people as he traveled throughout the Mid-Atlantic region as well as to New York, Texas and Florida. In late May 2014, Jacob returned to Miami and triumphantly completed his first Ride just as he had vowed. All told, Jacob's Ride brought in about $200,000 to help fund CI surgeries for those in need.
In 2015, Jacob took two Rides. First, he did a cross country ride (Ventura Beach, CA to Ocean City, MD) from May 26 to July 19. Then two weeks later, he did a fun "little spin" around Maryland to attend four minor league baseball games in five days. During the year, Jacob's Ride organized over 30 events throughout the country. In 2016 there were two short Rides. One here in Maryland and the other from Annapolis to Altoona, PA to help jump-start a new HLAA chapter in Blair County. Over 300 supporters joined us at the Altoona Curve baseball game.
Currently, Jacob is taking his last 2 classes at the University of Maryland (UMUC) to finish his degree in Business Administration. Also, he continues to excels at his full-time job at the Annapolis Whole Foods Market.
Additionally, and probably more significantly, this Fall Jacob has been enrolled in a custom-made internship at Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore) under the direction of Dr. Howard Francis. The internship was designed to expose Jacob to the entire cochlear implant process - from intake testing and analysis, through the surgery and rehabilitation & follow-up. Jacob was actually in the operating room for one middle ear surgery and one implant procedure.
Jacob believes his deafness has a special purpose. He is fully aware of the difference a CI has made in his life and is profoundly grateful. Over the years, Jacob has met with hundreds of cochlear implant recipients and their families. He has spoken at medical conferences and to college engineering students about the designing of devices for those with special needs.
At present, Jacob is meeting with several renowned cochlear implant professionals for the purpose of precisely focusing the ongoing direction of Jacob's Ride for Hearing and the highest-and-best-use of Jacob's time.
Much time and energy is being spent in building the infrastructure and organization of Jacob's Ride for Hearing into a long term, nationwide and full-time charity.