Helping Cochlear Implant Patients Get in the Game
When 23-year-old Jacob Landis was only 2, his mother suspected that something might be wrong. Jacob wasn’t learning to talk as quickly as his peers, and a hearing test confirmed her suspicions. For the next few years, his hearing faded away—first gradually, and then at breakneck speed.
“From the ages of 6 to 10, I was literally not hearing things that I could hear the day before,” says Landis. “I was crying a lot, especially because I was losing the sense of being normal.”
The year he turned 10, he says, his life changed after he had cochlear implant surgery at Johns Hopkins. The device put Landis back in a hearing world, allowing him to stay in public school with peers and attend middle school, high school and college as a typical student. He graduated with an associate’s degree in 2011.
“I’ve been so thankful for the ability to hear,” he says.
This year, while Landis considers whether to further his education, he sought a purposeful project to fill his time. An avid baseball fan, he wanted to visit all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums across the United States and Canada. And, so, he says, he decided to combine his passions for baseball and cochlear implants with a budding interest in cycling by organizing his own charity ride. On opening day of baseball season this spring, Landis embarked on a cycling journey that will take him to a game at each of the Major League Baseball stadiums, all while raising money to provide cochlear implants to people in need.
Landis began with the two stadiums nearest to his home in Annapolis: Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., and Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Family members provide support by driving the van that follows him, handling press inquiries, updating social media sites, and answering phone calls and emails. Volunteers, many with cochlear implants, have offered Landis and his group free lodging and help with fundraising.
Through selling T-shirts and finding sponsors, Landis hopes to raise at least
$1 million to be distributed among five foundations and hospitals, including
“There’s no question that a gift like this is transformative,” says Johns Hopkins Listening Center Director Howard Francis. “Many of our services are not reimbursable. We are extremely honored to be included in Jacob’s efforts.”
Landis is hoping that the patients he helps might one day be able to enjoy a Major League stadium. “I want to get them into a baseball game,” he says. “There are a lot of great sounds to hear there.”
People can help by joining Landis on parts of his ride, providing lodging, coming to the games he’ll attend, fundraising, or simply giving money. For more information about his ride and to donate online, go to www.jacobsride.com.
For information on the Listening Center, call 443-997-6467 or email TLC@jhmi.edu.