Saturday, May 3

Kentucky Derby Winner Big Brown and Cochlear Implants

They call the Kentucky Derby the "most exciting two minutes in sports". While it turned out to be an exciting race, with winner Big Brown dominating the field, the excitement peaked when I noticed winning jockey Kent Desormeaux's son Jake after his father had just crossed the finish line.Jake is deaf, and wears bilateral cochlear implants.

At first I was unsure of what I had just seen. I thought I saw a child with cochlear implants on my TV screen, but because you don't see that too often (or ever), it took me a second look to be sure. It was so great to see another child like Drew out there in the world!

The announcer for the broadcast said something like "and there is son Jake, with those implants that allow him to hear the roar of the crowd". I thought it was a touching comment, and I think that will help the public become more aware of what cochlear implants are.

This article, from April of 2001, describes Jake's diagnosis and initial CI surgery. Another, earlier article describes his family's first thoughts and concerns about Jake's future.

As much as anything about the Kentucky Derby, Kent Desormeaux says, he enjoys the sounds. The weighty rattle of the starting gate as the doors slam shut behind the last horse to line up. The gathering roar of the crowd in the moment before the race begins.

The frenzied roar of the crowd as he rides a winner down the long Churchill Downs stretch, something he has done twice now, sounds pretty sweet, too.

Desormeaux and his wife, Sonia, got some bad news a couple of weeks ago. Their younger son, 14-month-old Jake, may never experience the delight of those sounds or any others.

Tests confirmed that Jake was born deaf. It's an affliction to which the jockey can relate, having lost the hearing in his right ear in a December 1992 racing accident at Hollywood Park.

``It's depressing to think your child is going to grow up without being able to hear music,'' Desormeaux said. Like ``My Old Kentucky Home''?

His family's tragedy put Desormeaux, 30, in a different mood as he approached Saturday's Derby, in which he rode the favored Fusaichi Pegasus to a convincing victory.

Thankfully, Jake's surgeries went well, and he was able to hear "My Old Kentucky Home" and the roar of the crowd as his father crossed the finish line on 2008 Kentucky Derby Champion Big Brown.

If Jake is the first person you've seen with a cochlear implant, and you came here to learn more, please leave a comment!

***Note: After searching for the NBC pre-race coverage (video here) we understand that young Jake was recently diagnosed with Usher's Syndrome(Usher Syndrome). Unfortunately, this means that Jake may experience vision impairment and possible difficulty with balance in a progressive fashion. Let us all pray that Jake be affected by this as little as possible.***

*** Here is the NBC Broadcast showing Jake at 2:48:***


Aaron said...

I noticed this too. Tom Hammond actually mentioned it in the coverage immediately after the race when they showed the Desormeaux family celebrating. I'm trying to find footage of it as well...

Christian's Mommy said...

Thanks so much for posting this! I was away from tv and my computer all day, but had friends texting me telling me all about this jockey's son.


Jennifer said...

We were about to go to dinner and my dad kept saying, "Hang on, I wanna watch the Kentucky Derby". I was, all, "C'mon, DAD..." and he said, "It'll be over in about TWO's a very short course!" so I agreed to watch it. It wasn't captioned and it was so loud that I never heard any comments, but when the mama hugged her son and then let go of him, I saw the CI and started hooting and hollering. I was the only one in my family that saw it, though...and they were all looking at me like I was a goof, ROFL. I was so glad to have YouTube verification when we got home from dinner!!
I thought that was SO special!!! Thanks for the additional information!!

cnl265 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cnl265 said...

Thanks for posting about this! :) I'm a mommy to a 5 yr old boy with a cochlear implant! My husband saw the race from work and called to tell me about it! I rarely ever see another child with an implant so it's always a treat when I do! I'm still looking for video but I am glad I came across your blog!

Val said...

I did no know this, thanks for the information!

Dos Blessed said...

Thanks for posting this! I was at the Kentucky Derby volunteering but did not see his son on the big screen. My twin two-year-old daughters have cochlear implants and it's always exciting to see other families enjoying the benefits.

Shari said...

Funny thing. Hubby was watching the Kentucky Derby. I wasn't paying any attention. LOL. Then all of a sudden, I was hearing about the jockey's son who had CIs and had Usher syndrome. Usher syndrome Type 1 is pretty common in the New Orleans area. I should have been paying more attention. I did watch the part that mentioned the other horse's ankles being broken.

Anonymous said...

A friend sent me your BLOG. Thanks for sharing this. Good publicity. I have Usher 2 Syndrome. Successful hearing aid user for 39 years then more hearing loss. Now bilateral !!!! 4/95 N22 and 2/06 Freedom!!!!!!! Very young and still 59. Molly CC from Florida

Misty & Greg said...

Thank you for posting this. My sister found it just by Googling around. My husband just completed his third year in his Audiology doctorate program here in Dallas, TX, so this topic is close to my heart in a different aspect. I look forward to reading your posts and exploring your blog spot.

elizabeth embracing life said...

When I saw that I was at work, and jumped out of my skin. My co-workers were more informed than ever about CI's. Like you said, it was so cool to see Jake, right there!!

johnpetersen said...

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Anonymous said...

I bought the topic "People" magazine in couple years ago. I found it out about Jockery's son Jacob has bilateral cochlear implants on the article. That's great stories. I has usher syndrome type 1 since I was born deaf. Now, I has cochlear implant. Thank you for posting the link! Your blog website is so amazing!