KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There are few summer sounds like the crack of a baseball bat, but by age 10, Jacob Landis couldn’t hear a thing.
“I got the implants when I was 10,” he said. “Before that I could not hear much of anything at all. I was really becoming withdrawn in school and almost depressed at a young age.”
Now at age 24, the Maryland man is biking to every baseball park in America to help raise a million dollars to purchase cochlear implants for disadvantage kids who are hearing impaired.
“We’ve been raising a lot of money for any kid that cannot afford the implants because it shouldn’t be about money,” he said. “It can be the biggest difference in life.”
Landis biked his way to Kauffman Stadium on Labor Day to attend the matinée game between the Kansas City Royals and the Seattle Mariners, which the Royals won 3-1. Landis was the star attraction at a tailgate party before the game with 200 supporters from Kansas City’s hearing impaired community.
“He’s absolutely amazing, I have no idea how he does it,” said Terri Shirley.
The Overland Park mom lost her hearing at the age of 15, but didn’t get cochlear implants until she was 41.
“I love hearing the National Anthem and ‘Take Me out to the Ball Game.’ It’s just music to be able to hear that,” she said. “Without the cochlear implants, I would not be able to hear that.”
Ivan VonMosche, 9, came to the game to meet Landis and pose for a picture with him. VonMosche received cochlear implants when he was two.
“It’s very special,” said the fourth grader. “I mean, like, you couldn’t hear your mother say ‘I love you’ if you couldn’t hear.” He says hearing makes baseball easier to enjoy, especially, “the sound of when your team hits a home run.”
Landis echoes that thought.
“There’s so many great sounds at the baseball park, just hearing the ball hit the mitt,” he said.
Landis heard a special sound at Kauffman Stadium on Monday. The fans roared for him when the stadium announcer told them over the loud speaker that Jacob Landis would be sitting in the coveted red Buck O’Neil seat behind home plate.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Landis said.
Landis has now visited 26 of America’s 30 baseball parks. His journey ends September 24th at Marlins Park in Miami.
If you want to donate to the Hearing Loss Association of America benefiting Jacob’s Ride, visit Jacobsride.com or text JACOB to 50555 to give $10.