RIT/NTID Grad Proud to be an Amazing Racer
NTID News - February 12, 2009
"Money was a nice perk if it happened, but I really, really wanted to experience it. I just love the games," he said.
Luke, 23, of Monument, Colo., is the first deaf contestant on the popular CBS reality show. He and his mother, Margie, 51, are one of 11 teams to race on the show's next season, starting at 8 p.m. on Feb. 15.
Teams are given clues that lead them around the world, often to exotic locations. They are confronted with physical and mental tasks. Once those tasks are completed, they receive additional clues. The last team to check in each week is usually eliminated. The winning team during the show's finale shares $1 million.
Luke and his mother began the race with the other teams on Oct. 31, 2008
in California. The contestants are not allowed to discuss the race or the outcome, but taping continued through Nov. 21
. The winners traveled 40,000 miles and visited nine countries.
Luke, a devoted fan of the show, applied to be a contestant three previous times. He first applied for a season that featured four family members per team.
When he turned 21, Luke applied again, this time with another RIT/NTID student as a teammate. The producers were impressed, but suggested Luke do the race with someone who he was closer with and who could hear and help interpret. So he began to persuade his mother to join him.
Margie admits she really hadn't watched much of the show before she was selected as a contestant.
"When Luke started to apply, he started begging me to go on," she said during a recent phone interview. "The more and more I watched it, the more I liked it. We went on the show for the experience. Luke had been away at college for five years and we hadn't spent much time together."
Luke and Margie were only accompanied on the race by a camera man and a sound man. "I never considered my mom as the interpreter," Luke said. "She was a teammate to me. We went in as mother and son."
During a pre-race interview, Margie and Luke said using sign language may be an advantage so they could communicate and strategize privately.
Born deaf, Luke received a cochlear implant but doesn't use it. He communicates using American Sign Language. "I'm definitely big-D Deaf," he said.
Luke graduated from the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind in Colorado Springs. He says the decision to attend RIT/NTID was easy after he visited several colleges.
"As soon as I saw RIT/NTID, it was hands down where I wanted to go," he said. "I love that school. I wanted to go to a mainstreamed school, get a good education and I wanted to be exposed to both deaf and hearing people. RIT was perfect."
Luke, who received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 2008, learned he was selected to be a contestant last summer. So he said he didn't seriously look for a job in that field knowing he'd be on the show. He currently works at Starbucks.
Margie works as a quality assurance associate for a pharmaceutical company.
Both Margie and Luke have already gotten many emails from friends, strangers and former Amazing Race cast members who told them to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame.
"We're both really looking forward to seeing the show," Margie says. "When you're doing it, you only know what you're doing. It will be fun to see what the other teams were doing. We're really excited and looking forward to it."
Luke says he'd do the show again, perhaps if they had another season with former cast members competing.
But regardless of his finish, he says he accomplished what he wanted: "I'm very proud to be the first Deaf contestant on 'The Amazing Race.' It was a very, very cool experience. I just hope I make the Deaf community proud!"http://www.ntid.rit.edu/media/full_text.php?article_id=861