Jul 10, 2013, 1:15 PM PST
When Jacob Landis observes a baseball game, he takes it all in. Each crack of the bat, roar of the crowd, and bark of the beer vendor brings him comfort. The sounds that fans often overlook mean everything to him.
“Back home in Maryland, I always put the game on the radio instead of watching it on TV,” says Landis, a life-long Baltimore Orioles fan.
Landis, 24, slowly started to lose his hearing as a child and it was gone by the time he was 10 years old. Angry and confused, he gave up on some of his favorite activities like playing sports. He visited numerous specialists and tried countless amounts of hearing aids. Nothing seemed to work.
“I’ve had to deal with the pain of having your hearing taken away from you,” Landis said. “There’s so many things that I could hear and then the very next day I couldn’t hear it. My hearing was going down fast.”
In 1999, Landis underwent a procedure to receive a Cochlear Implant to restore his hearing. He knew the procedure was completely successful when he heard the timer on the microwave going off. Before the implant, he simply assumed the microwave was faulty.
Mindful that he was lucky enough to undergo an expensive procedure, Landis wanted to find a way to help the less fortunate. Each procedure costs around $50,000, which is too expensive for many families to afford. In addition to the procedure, a candidate must also go through detailed evaluations to determine if the procedure will work.
Last October, while watching the Orioles make the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, Landis came up with the idea to combine two of his passions — bike riding and baseball. He rounded up supporters and mapped out a 10,500 mile, 175 day bike ride to each of the 30 MLB stadiums. On April 3, the Annapolis, Maryland native hopped on his bike, hoping the ride would raise money and awareness for the hearing impaired.
Landis’ goal is to raise $1 million. With matching grants and partnerships, each $10,000 he raises is enough to buy one child a hearing implant. If he reaches his goal, 100 kids won’t have to live in silence.
Landis’ 17th and 18th stops were in Oakland and San Francisco. While at AT&T Park, he spent quality time with Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti’s family. Righetti’s daughter, Nicolette, has two Cochlear Implants. The meeting was spearheaded by Righetti’s wife, Kandice, who read about Landis and wanted to support his cause. After they welcomed Landis into a special lounge, Giants CEO Larry Baer and his wife, Pam, stopped by and gave him a tour of the dugout and the field before the game.
His next stop will be in San Diego. He expects the 571 mile ride from San Francisco to San Diego to take six days. After he attends the Giants vs. Padres game on July 12, he will double back north to visit the Dodgers on July 14, the Angels on July 19, and then begin his trek across the desert to Arizona.
Landis has yet to stray from his schedule and plans to make his final stop in Miami, Florida on September 24.
“The toughest leg of the trip was probably going from Minneapolis to Seattle, because it was about 1,500 miles in 22 days,” Landis said. “But none of that is hard compared to how hard it is to raise money.”
Landis doesn’t ride alone. He is joined by his cousin, Jack Riddle, who drives by his side. He also meets up with bike-riding supporters along the way and has plenty of rest built into his schedule. He has raised over $70,000, but isn’t close to achieving his fundraising goal. To donate, go to JacobsRide.com or text “JACOB” to 50555 to make a $10 donation.
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