This story is more amazing than the Mets in 1969.
Jacob Landis, a 24-year-old from Maryland, was born with normal hearing but turned deaf by the age of 10. Luckily, he was able to receive a cochlear implant allowing him to regain the ability to hear.
A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device inserted deep into one's ear, sort of like a supersonic hearing aid. They're expensive--not everyone can afford such an implant. In an effort to raise awareness and funds for poor children who could use the implant, Landis decided to do something active.
So he started Jacob's Ride. His goal was to raise 200K for his cause. Starting April 3, Jacob committed to ride his bike to every baseball stadium in the country, sort of like a cycling Forrest Gump or those local dudes who paddle-boarded 100s of miles for charity. After attending 29 of the 30 baseball stadiums in the country, Landis had one more stadium to encounter: Marlins Park.
But while on his journey to Miami, Landis was clipped by a huge Freightliner semi-truck pulling a refrigerated trailer.
The truck did not stop. Landis went flying and doesn't remember anything other than waking up in the hospital. His injuries include a severe concussion, a broken nose, two small cheekbone fractures and a chipped tooth.
Could've been worse. He could be dead.
Bike safety is a major issue for Floridians. According to Transportation for America, the top four most dangerous cities for cyclists are in Florida, with Miami holding the fourth spot.
But Landis will not be deterred. After logging 10,000 miles on his bike, and with only one more stadium to visit, he is expected to attend a rally in his honor at Whole Foods in North Miami and also a finish line rally at Marlins Park. He has raised 64% of his goal, or $127,000.
We caught up with Landis to congratulate him on his journey.
New Times: First off, how are you feeling?
Jacob Landis: My arm is really sore. I'm having a hard time moving it. It's my left arm, and I'm left-handed, so it's especially difficult for me. Otherwise, I'm just grateful to be here.
Here in Miami we have a growing bike community. We are also ranked one of the most dangerous in the country for cyclists. People are constantly getting clipped by cars who don't stop. We have great respect for what you're doing and compassion for your injury.
I really appreciate that. One of the best parts about this ride has been raising awareness for both cochlear implants and cycling safety.
Do the Miami Marlins have anything planned for you?
They've really rolled out the red carpet for me. They wanted me to throw out the first pitch, but unfortunately because of my left arm I cannot. A special young boy who helped raise a lot of money for the cause is going to throw it in place for me.
Doctors have told you not to ride for a couple of weeks, but are you going to ride to the game anyway? Maybe you can just ride bike into the stadium, if you're game.
I hope to be able to come back to Florida as soon as feasible to finish the last 180 miles. Whether I do or don't, I feel like I've accomplished what I set out to do, which is raise money and awareness for children who deserve the same gift of hearing I received.
During your journey, were there other setbacks?
I slammed my finger in the van door back in western Pennsylvania, just before we got to Pittsburgh. I dealt with a lot of headwinds riding through the northern plains, a lot of cold rain and steep mountains in the Pacific Northwest, and a lot of heat in California's central valley. Through all of it, the kids who stand to benefit from this ride have kept me strong and going.
What part of the country did you enjoy the most?
In Southern California I had really good tail winds, and a lot of good bike lanes.
Did you have a favorite ballpark? Favorite city?
Nothing compares to your home team's park and I think most baseball fans will agree. I really enjoyed Cincinnati and both of the Texas teams, but I'm looking forward to seeing the last game of the season at Orioles Park.
What is the farthest you rode in one day, miles and / or time spent riding?
I rode 140 miles crossing from South Dakota to North Dakota, with the benefit of a strong tailwind.
Would you do it again?
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My cousin Jack (who has driven the support vehicle this whole trip) and I have talked about doing 30 Triple-AAA ballparks at some point. I'm still very young and I have a lot of time to figure out how to continue combing my loves for cycling and baseball with my desire to help other children with hearing loss.
For more info on Jacob's ride, check out his Facebook page.