Cyclist raising money for hearing loss stops in Aurora on nationwide tour

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AURORA | Jacob Landis is usually pretty careful about replacing the battery in his cochlear implant.

When the power source in the device dies, Landis loses his ability to hear. Deaf since the age of 10, Landis has long relied on the device connected directly to his inner ear to as a link to the rest of the world.

Jacob Landis meets with officials from the Marion Downs Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora on Aug. 6. (Photo courtesy Dan Weaver)
Jacob Landis meets with officials from the Marion Downs Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora on Aug. 6. (Photo courtesy Dan Weaver)

But there have been plenty of times in the past four months when Landis, 24, hasn’t cared that the power on the implant has fizzed out. He’s been too focused on logging an average of 80 miles every day on his bicycle, intent on crisscrossing the country to visit the 30 Major League Baseball parks.

“My battery life is about three hours. Sometimes if I forget to change it, it dies on the road. I don’t really mind it,” Landis said Aug. 6 during a visit to the Marion Downs Hearing Center in Aurora. “I hear the wind,” he said, adding that the sounds from a bike seat aren’t always that compelling.

In April, Landis and his cousin Jack Riddle set out from Maryland with a simple and noble mission in mind. Landis would bike across the country and visit every single Major League park. The goal would be to raise $1 million for children in need of cochlear implants.

So far, Landis has logged more than 4,000 miles (with Riddle following behind in a truck) and raised more than $100,000. The ride has brought Landis to more than 20 parks across the country.

He stopped at the Marion Downs center en route to Coors Field, where he planned to visit with members of the Colorado Rockies on Friday. During his stop in Aurora, he chatted with Marion Downs Co-Director Sandra Gabbard, as well as activist and Marion Downs Center advocate Justin Osmond.

Osmond, a member of the famously musical Osmond family, suffers from almost 90 percent hearing loss. Osmond praised Landis’ cross-country ride and said the mission hit close to home.

“I’m a lot like you,” Osmond said. “I’m a candidate for a cochlear implant; my right ear is getting worse.”

Though Landis’ journey has only brought in about $100,000 of a stated $1 million goal, he still has more than a month left on his tour. The amount of money raised so far could pay for 10 cochlear implants, Landis said, adding that applicants can go through the Gift of Hearing Foundation to see if they qualify.

In the final five weeks of the journey that remain, Landis is hoping more donors will be inspired by the scope and challenge of the ride.

“If I drove or rode a motorcycle, people wouldn’t give money,” Landis said. “I guess people have it in their minds that if you do something slightly uncomfortable, you should have the money to do it.”

So far, losing his hearing on the road to dozens of ballparks across the U.S. has been worth the discomfort for Landis.