OCTOBER 6, 2013 JODI’S BLOG:
I began writing this blog five years ago for two reasons: I wanted to share Jordan’s hearing loss journey with other parents, and writing was a cathartic experience that enabled me to heal things I never knew needed healing.
Naomi Higgs, co-founder of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle once wrote: “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon!” No truer words have ever been said in regard to raising a Deaf baby.
I remember when Jordan was about two years old and wore hearing aids. I took him out for some ice-cream in the center and we stumbled across a Rock band. He pointed his little finger at the musicians playing and indicated that he wanted to get out of his stroller. He stood there for about thirty seconds, then his little legs started moving and he did this funny squat dance to the beat of the song. I started crying, my baby could hear music with his hearing aids. We danced there for a good twenty minutes, then we went home.
I wrote about how his pre-school teachers told me not to send him to Elementary School because he was violent and could hurt other children. Jordan was extremely slow to learn new vocabulary, he had very poor comprehension and even poorer expressive language skills. I told those teachers that he was frustrated because he had difficulty communicating, but he could read and he was going to Elementary School.
Jordan got his Cochlear Implant when he was in 4th grade.
The CI gave him access to spontaneous language: he felt closer to his peers, his frustration decreased, he began learning to speak English. Jordan spoke on the telephone and heard our voices.
Jordan went to a Middle School specializing in Musical Education. He sang in a choir and learned to play the Classical Guitar.
When I ran into difficulty during the first two years of high school and was considering moving him to a more difficult educational setting, my CI Mom friend, Paula said, “NEVER set limitations on your son, ALWAYS strive for more. His hearing loss is only one part of him, he can do ANYTHING he sets his mind to achieving.” Jordan chose to change schools, conscious that he was choosing a more difficult academic path. And he is doing just fine.
Between Italy, the USA and Australia, I am part of a global Cochlear Implant Community. I use my experiences and network to help others at all points of the journey, just as I learn from families who are further ahead of us on the path. This type of CI Community support is fundamental to ensure that our kids remain kids, as well as to safeguard our own well-being during the process.
I am proud and honored to say that Cochlear EMEA has recognized the importance of a Mother’s Voice in the journey that so many of us travel, and they have offered me the opportunity to serve as a Consultant to Cochlear Europe, Middle East, Africa in regard to communications and relationship management with recipients and candidates and their parents and other relatives.
Three continents of families.
One family at a time.
WE WANT RALLY CAPS TO BECOME A FILM. PERHAPS A MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE ON THE DISNEY CHANNEL. BELOW ARE SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR FILM PRODUCERS OUT THERE – TO GIVE YOU A START!!
QUESTION: Please confirm the category that you would like your book included in:
ANSWER: Children’s (Disney or Family Channel)
QUESTION: Does your book have characters? If so, whom would you consider the main characters?
ANSWER: The main characters are Jordan, Luca and Niki. Other characters are listed below.
QUESTION: How would you best describe the characters, including age, physical description, and distinct personality traits?
ANSWER: Jordan – 10 almost 11 years old from Baltimore, Maryland; he lives for baseball and his favorite team, the Orioles; his hero/idol is Oriole Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken Jr. Jordan’s bedroom is decorated Oriole style in orange, black and white and filled with Ripken memorabilia. Even though Jordan is short, he dreams of making it to the big leagues. Jordan loves to pitch, that is until his unfortunate and frightening accident while trying out for the Little League Travel team.
Luca – 11 years old and very tall, 5’9”; he is from Grosseto, Italy; he is deaf and wears a cochlear implant that allows him to hear. Luca is impressive with his frankness and self-confidence and his “nothing-is-impossible” attitude. Luca loves the catcher position because it keeps him involved in the whole game.
Niki – 9 years old and Luca’s sister (who disguises herself as a boy so she can be included on the team). Niki is cute at 5’3” with very long straight black hair (that is until she cuts it all off); she is thin, has piercing green eyes and tan skin. She’s got “attitude” that girls can do anything boys can do! Niki is the leftfielder.
2nd baseman Jimmie “Mouth” Goldenberg from Washington D.C., 9 years old
Shortstop Barry “Scoop” Shapiro from Washington, D.C., 9 years old
3rd baseman Richard Rosen from Washington, D. C., 9 years old
Rightfielder Ted “Say a Prayer” Simpkins from Boston, 9 years old
Utility player Dave Silverman from New York, 9 years old
Centerfielder Ryan Roenicke from Philly, 9 years old
1st baseman Skip (who loves to eat never “skipping” a meal) from Catonsville, Maryland, 9 years old
Rob – Jordan’s brother, the bunk’s counselor and the coach of the team. Rob is 19, nine years older than Jordan.
Other smaller part characters: Jordan’s mother, grandfather, camp nurse, and Frankie, the camp bully etc.
QUESTION: If you could have your choice of current actors to portray the characters, which would you chose for each?
ANSWER: The characters, Jordan, Luca and Niki should be current actors that the audience would recognize. They could also be rising 9-11 year old actors looking for a break to begin their career.
Current actor suggestion: To play Jordan – Raymond Ochoa; to play Skip – Aaron Zachary Phillips; to play Frankie, the camp bully – Rile Thomas Stewart.
Others – Colin Barocchi, Jacob Nathaniel, Payton Rodgers, and Parres Mosteller.
Current actresses that could play Niki: Mika Abdalla (Saige Paints The Sky), Alexa Gerasimovich, Jasmine Alveran, or Maggie Elizabeth Jones.
Also, the new TV show, “Camp” may have potential actors for RALLY CAPS. (See next question below).
QUESTION: Does your book take place in a particular location? Or in a particular time period?
ANSWER: Baseball Camp USA, 2008. There is a new TV show called “Camp” that premiered on NBC on July 10, 2013. RALLY CAPS setting would be similar to that show with a baseball diamond of course. The camp setting will also need a huge “bell” and “CB Rock” in front of the Mess Hall. Liz Heldens, award-winning TV producer and writer, is the creator of “Camp.”
QUESTION: If your book is to be pitched as a documentary or true story, would you be able to provide any film footage or photographs?
ANSWER: Yes. The factual/true parts of our story are the baseball accident (that happened to Stephen Cutler at 10 years old), the camp setting (Camp Belgrade in Maine where Stephen attended for 12 summers), and the motivational character, Luca, who is Jodi Cutler’s son (Stephen’s grandson) who was born deaf and wears a cochlear implant.
RALLY CAPS website might be helpful: www.rallycaps2007.wordpress.com.
Also, the RALLY CAPS video: www.YouTube.com/watch?v=nP56JPBcfv8
QUESTION: If further writing were required to continue the story-line as either a prequel or sequel would you be available for consultations?
QUESTION: If your category is Children’s, do you envision your book to be animated or with actual people?
ANSWER: We envision the book’s story as a “made-for-TV” movie with actual characters from the story. RALLY CAPS appeals to the whole family and a vast population just like other successful movies such as Bad News Bears, Major League, The Kid from Left-field, Rookie and The Perfect Game.
However, we are certainly open to a computer animated project with the same characters.
QUESTION: If your story is inspirational or religious is there a certain denomination that you feel it would appeal to?
ANSWER: The story is inspirational and specifically targets baseball fans (children and adults alike and especially families who can watch the movie “together”); and a hard-of-hearing population that uses or is thinking of using a cochlear implant.
Note: It is relevant for all as ninety percent of deaf babies are born to hearing parents.
RALLY CAPS is a humorous, fun-filled baseball and camp story.
QUESTION: If your story is one of inspiration or self-help for others what would the main topic be?
ANSWER: This story teaches us how children with a disability, based on their experiences and increased sensitivity, are able to apply their journey into helping other children overcome personal difficulties not necessarily related to a disability. The book portrays a strong, independent deaf child with a cochlear implant. He uses his “disability” and transforms it into an “ability”.
Luca’s compelling “nothing is impossible” attitude gives Jordan the courage to return to baseball with a passion.
Sport, especially baseball, is the greatest setting to teach children important life-lessons. Jordan draws inspiration from his idol, Cal Ripken Jr., who gives Jordan strength to overcome his fears and anxiety.
Cal is one of the last great living heroes; it’s time a film pays homage to him. RALLY CAPS “helps teach valuable lessons of acceptance and resilience to kids and adults alike.” These are Cal Ripken Jr’s own words from his endorsement of RALLY CAPS.
QUESTION: Is there a certain age, ethnic or other group of people that your story would best be suited to?
ANSWER: Our book has been read from eight to eighty year olds and each and every person has loved the book because the messages it transmits to the reader is in the form of a good old American baseball story.
QUESTION: If your choice is a possible appearance on Talk TV, why do you feel you would be a good guest?
ANSWER: Jodi Cutler is an advocate and public speaker on educating and inspiring deaf children and families. (her bio on the back cover of RALLY CAPS).
Jodi has an excellent “back story” because of her own life-experiences with her son (born deaf) and many other families through her professional blogs (in English and Italian). All of her stories and expertise make her an excellent guest and public relations advocate for the movie. Her son could also appear on Talk TV with Jodi – a unique slant to promoting the film.
QUESTION: Would your story be inspirational, self-help or what type of show would it best fit?
ANSWER: Inspirational, Kids, Families
QUESTION: Why do you think others would be interested in your story on Talk TV? One part of a pitch is called the “log-line”. This is a one or two sentence description of your show designed to sell the networks on your idea or concept. It typically tells the main agenda of the show and/or main character. It is best if your story-line can easily translate to a log-line as sometimes you only have that moment or two to catch a busy TV executive’s eye. Your log-line should tell us what we’re watching, and what clever hook or premise there is in the show.
QUESTION: If you had to write the “log-line” for your book and limit it to one to three sentences, what would you say?
“Life’s curve-balls teach life’s greatest lessons. Summer baseball camp pranks and raids form lasting friendships. Turn your hats inside out and wave your “rally caps” in the most unforgettable come-from-behind baseball story ever.”
QUESTION: In two paragraphs or less, summarize what you feel would be the high points or the most interesting parts of your story.
ANSWER: RALLY CAPS high points are the scene on the pitcher’s mound where Luca motivates Jordan to finally overcome his fear of playing baseball; Niki cutting off her hair to look like a boy and become part of the team; the funny camp pranks and raids; and the final inning in the biggest game of Jordan’s life.
QUESTION: In closing, is there any information that you feel would be imperative to your story?
ANSWER: Since RALLY CAPS has been published in the USA and in Italy, Jodi has been working globally to support Family Centered Intervention in Hearing Loss. The book has paved the way for more support for families and Cochlear Implant Awareness throughout the world. Her son Jordan, who is deaf, wears a cochlear implant and is bilingual Italian-English, also performs public speaking with his mother to assist other deaf teens and offer support.
RALLY CAPS has been endorsed by Curtis Pride, the last deaf major league baseball player as well as Cal Ripken, Jr, Brooks Robinson and Tim Kurkjian.
“RALLY CAPS is a heartwarming book about perseverance and courage. Congratulations to Steve and Jodi for taking the challenges in their lives and turning it into a wonderful book that helps teach valuable lessons of acceptance and resilience to kids and adults alike.”
–Cal Ripken Jr., Baltimore Orioles, 2007 Hall of Fame
“RALLY CAPS is a story that really hit home with me. Growing up, my hearing friends quickly learned being deaf makes no difference, just like the character Jordan discovers in this book. There is a very real message here – nothing is impossible!”
—Curtis Pride, ’07 LA Angels of Anaheim (the first full-season deaf player in the modern era of Major League Baseball); ’09-Present – Head Baseball Coach Galluadet University.
“RALLY CAPS celebrates the game of baseball as it’s meant to be played by teaching kids fundamentals and teamwork with a few entertaining old-fashioned pranks. This is one story I’ll be reading to my grandchildren!”
–Brooks Robinson, Baltimore Orioles, 1983 Hall of Fame
“I really enjoyed the book RALLY CAPS. It is a compelling story of a boy who learns to never give up in overcoming some of the difficulties that life brings. It is important reading for all parents, especially Dads. As a father of two children who play multiple sports, I was truly inspired by this book.’’
–Tim Kurkjian, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine and Baseball Tonight Analyst
…RALLY CAPS is a humorous, fun-filled baseball and camp story. Ten year old Jordan is injured in an unfortunate and frightening accident while trying out for the Little League Travel team. At summer camp he struggles to conquer his anxiety and fear in order to return to his beloved game of baseball. He forms a friendship with a deaf Italian boy, Luca, who wears a cochlear implant. Luca’s compelling positive “nothing is impossible” attitude, along with the inspiration he draws from his idol, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., gives Jordan the courage to return to baseball with a passion. Find out what happens as “rally caps” are raised in the bottom of the final inning in the biggest game of Jordan’s life.
JODI WRITES IN HER BLOG “AN AMERICAN MOM IN TUSCANY….JORDAN’S COCHLEAR IMPLANT STORY”
MAY 1, 2013:
“Four years after creating my Italian blog, three years after having created a facebook forum called “Let’s Face Deaf Together!- Cochlear Implant Forum, we are holding our first National Meeting in Rome on May 11th entitled “Look Who’s Talking!”
Participants include cochlear implant recipients, hearing aid wearers and deaf adults and children who use sign language without amplification. I believe it could be the first meeting ever where the speakers are just about all Deaf Individuals ready to share their experiences to enrich the lives of others. Medical professionals are attending to “hear” what we the families of Deaf children and Deaf adults have to say about the system.
The facebook forum is a place where associations from all over Italy can share their projects, ideas and goals to improve the system as a whole and offer resources to all. The Presidents of these associations will be attending this meeting. There is a battle going on in Italy right now over whether or not to recognize LIS as a minority language, but that battle has no place in our meeting. Our meeting is pro-family, pro-support, pro-strength, pro-community that encompasses all perspectives. We are all co-existing on one forum. Miraculous:-) I have always believed in choice and that each and every choice must be respected. There are 250 seats in the meeting and we are now at standing room only with 270 participants.
I believe that if you build it…they will come.”
Jordan and I will be speaking together:-)
LEFT CLICK ON THE COVER SO IT ENLARGES.
READ THE ENDORSEMENTS AND JODI’S NEW BIO PLUS VIEW THE NEW BIO PICTURES!
THE “SECOND PRINTING” ALSO INCLUDES INTERIOR TEXT ADDITIONS: “ABOUT RALLY CAPS” AND “JORDAN’S LETTER” IN THE FRONT
AND “BASEBALL GREAT’S BIOS,” “A GLOSSARY OF BASEBALL TERMS,” AND “THE RIPKEN WAY,” NEW CHAPTERS 24, 25, AND 26.
TO ORDER RALLY CAPS AS AN E-BOOK, GO TO AMAZON.COM AND THE KINDLE EBOOK STORE OR CONTACT STEVE firstname.lastname@example.org FOR INFORMATION ON HOW TO ORDER YOUR EPUB OR MOBI FORMAT EBOOK VIA PAYPAL OR BY CHECK.
Posted on Jodi’s Blog: An American Mom in Tuscany: Jordan’s Cochlear Implant Story
Monday, July 16, 2012
Two months ago I participated in the Family Centered Early Intervention Congress in Bad Ischl, Austria, where after 15 years of Jordan’s journey in Italy, I had the fortune of meeting Dr. John Niparko. We were part of the same International Consensus Meeting on Family Centered Intervention. Actually, I sat next to him. Who would have ever thought that the girl from Baltimore would meet the world famous CI surgeon of Hopkins at a Congress in Austria? I grilled him with questions during that Congress, we talked about bilateral cis, an Italian situation, how early he implants, how long before totally implantables would become available and hair cell research so that I could take the information back to my Italian forum. He calmly answered all of my questions despite his jetlag and was absolutely the nicest person to have waited fifteen years to meet.
Okay, here’s the deal. I have created a network in Italy. I place families in contact with Italian surgeons on a regular basis. They ask me for help and I am so happy to be in a position to help them. Dr. Niparko gave me his email address during the meeting and told me if I had any questions that he would be happy to answer them, but that I might have to wait for a response due to his busy schedule.
I arrived in Baltimore three weeks ago. Jordan’s journey has been exclusively Italian. We have always trusted our doctors in Pisa, but I had Niparko’s email address burning a hole in my wallet. What would you have done as a good American mom living in Italy with a world famous CI surgeon twenty minutes from your house? My son’s hearing is the most important thing. We just upgraded to a CP810 and he seemed to be talking louder than usual. I sent the email. Niparko responded.
We just spent the day getting mapped and taking a tour of The Listening Center.Dr. Andrea Marlowe mapped Jordan. She said his Italian mapping was very good and she just tweaked a couple of things that have improved Jordan’s quality of hearing. She talked us through the entire process; Jordan did the Ling sounds without missing one and repeated some words in English without any problems – An amazing experience after having lived every moment prior in Italian.
Dr. Niparko shook hands with Jordan and showed us around the ListeningCenter. He handed me the Listening Center information packet that I’m going to study and I showed him the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle yahoo support group;-)…been waiting four years to be able to do that. I’m still kind of emotional about the whole thing. You never know the places you’ll go. You just always want the best for your child. I am thankful for Italy, and I am thankful for Niparko. I am blessed.
Issue 2.30: July 26, 2007
Media Guide: By Barry Silverman
“RALLY CAPS” GOING TO COOPERSTOWN, TOO
In a recent Press Box High School Then and Now, Keith Mills talked with Jodi Cutler, a native Baltimorean now living in Grosetto, Italy, about her book “RALLY CAPS.” The book, which she co-authored with her father and my friend Stephen Cutler, is about a young boy who is hit by a pitch and becomes afraid to play baseball. (By the way, one of the camp kids in the book is named Silverman, and another named Barry. How bout that!) At summer camp he overcomes his fear, thanks to the encouragement of a hearing-impaired youngster from Italy. Jodi Cutler wrote the book so her own hearing impaired son would have a character to relate to. In the book, the boys love of baseball is inspired by the Cutler’s baseball hero, Ripken. In fact, this weekend, Stephen Cutler will be at Augurs Bookstore in Cooperstown signing books. “RALLY CAPS” is also on sale at the Hall of Fame’s Museum Bookstore.
Issue 2.28: July 12, 2007
HIGH SCHOOL THEN AND NOW: CUTLER POINT BEING HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR
By Keith Mills
When Jodi Cutler was playing three sports at Pikesville High School in the late ’80s, the last thing she thought she would be doing nearly 20 years later was promoting a book and living in Italy. “You can’t control your own destiny,” Cutler said. “Wherever it takes you, it takes you.” Destiny and Cutler’s husband, Luca Del Dottore, have taken her to Grosseto, Italy, a coastal town in Tuscany halfway between Florence and Rome. Cutler spent the last decade in Grosetto teaching English at a local school, raising her two children (4-year-old Sofia and 10-year-old Jordan) and writing a book with her father, Stephen, called “RALLY CAPS.” It is a story about how a young baseball player who idolizes Cal Ripken Jr. stopped playing because of an injury and battles to get back on the field. “My father lives in West Palm Beach and had been pressuring me to write it for the last six years,” Cutler said. “But when somebody tells you, ’Write a book, write a book,’ it’s almost impossible to do. Somehow we got it done.” For Jodi Cutler, the story hits home hard like a Ripken line drive. Ripken is one of the inspirations for the book. The other is her son Jordan. (Courtesy of Publish America) “There’s a child named Jordan who is a die-hard Cal Ripken fan,” Cutler said of her book’s plot. “He suffers a lot of anxiety toward baseball because he gets flung in the face with a baseball bat and he’s afraid to play. He goes to a baseball camp and meets a strong, hearing-impaired boy who convinces him to get back on the field. He is wearing a hearing device, a cochlear hearing implant.” Cutler’s son is also hearing-impaired and wears a cochlear implant. “My son was born profoundly deaf,” Cutler said. “He goes to speech therapy three times a week. When he was 8, he got a cochlear implant. At the time, I was jotting things down for the book but when he had the implant done — and it was an incredible success — the story really began moving along.” And incredibly, Jordan has yet to read it. “It’s written in English and he can’t read English,” said Cutler. He speaks and reads Italian. But we’re working to get it translated for him.”
Cutler graduated in 1989 from Pikesville High School, where she lettered in volleyball, basketball and softball. After graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in English, language and literature, she returned to Baltimore County to teach and coach junior varsity basketball at Randallstown and Pikesville and softball at Franklin and Randallstown. But it was as a gifted scholar-athlete at Pikesville High in 1989 when Cutler’s life took an interesting turn. She took a trip to Italy as part of an exchange program and met her husband-to-be on the streets of Grosseto. “I thought he was ’hot, so I talked to him, Cutler said. We stayed in touch, went back and forth, back and forth for about seven years. Then we got engaged. I was teaching here and he was working there. Then I got pregnant. That decided it.” So Cutler moved to Italy, where she and her husband began to raise a family. In 1997, Jordan was born, followed in 2003 by Sofia. Jordan, despite his hearing challenges, began to play baseball.
“Baseball in Italy is like soccer in the United States,” Cutler said. “Fortunately, he plays on a good team with great coaches.”
Meanwhile, back in West Palm Beach, Stephen Cutler was still trying to convince his daughter to co-write a book with him. At that point, he had found another inspiring reason to do it — Curtis Pride. Pride, an 11-year major league veteran, is also hearing impaired. A 10th-round pick in the 1986 amateur draft out of John F. Kennedy High School in Montgomery County, Pride has played for six major league teams. He is presently at triple AAA in Salt Lake City with the LA Angels of Anaheim. He runs a foundation called Together With Pride, which raises money for families to purchase devices like a cochlear implant. Stephen Cutler met Pride in 2001 in West Palm Beach and began a relationship that continues to this day. In fact, Pride has endorsed “RALLY CAPS” and has been one of the book’s biggest advocates. “Curtis actually wanted the book to be about the hearing-impaired character,” Jodi Cutler said. “But I wanted the book to be a mainstream book for all children to read. That’s how I see my son.” And that’s how Cutler hopes others see the book. So far, so good. Since Jodi Cutler has returned to Baltimore, she has had book signings at Borders Express in White Marsh, Breathe Books in Hampden and the Ivy Bookshop on Falls Road. “Everyone has been so helpful,” Cutler said. “I really didn’t have to ask for help because everyone gets the message — how a child with a handicap can help other children. I am humbled by the experience.” She has also been a guest on multiple local TV and radio programs, and on July 27-28, Stephen Cutler will sign books at the Augurs Book Store on Main Street in Cooperstown, N.Y., as part of Ripken’s Hall of Fame induction. Ripken remains a huge part of the Cutler message. “The important aspect for me as to why he’s an inspiration for the book is because he has
such a strong work ethic,” Jodi Cutler said. “He started playing at Memorial Stadium and my dad took my sister Niki and me to a lot of games growing up and he was always there. Everybody says it’s so easy playing the game of baseball. But I just can’t imagine playing through good times, bad times, bad press, through slumps, through nicks, through the negative things. Not just through the positive things. Yet day in, day out, he always went to work. He went through it all and has risen above all else to where he is today.” Today, Cutler celebrates life in Grosseto, far from her home in Pikesville where she and Niki grew up playing baseball with the boys. Now she returns to her roots as the author of “RALLY CAPS.”
“Why RALLY CAPS? I remember when I was a counselor at Camp Milldale [Owings Mills] and we used to say, ’Put on your rally caps, let’s go!’ Cutler said. “I love the idea of a team coming from behind. It’s the best part of baseball.”
Issue 2.18: May 3, 2007
Media Guide: Hard Ball off the Field
by Barry Silverman
“RALLY CAPS” A MUST READ
Congratulations to local guy Steve Cutler, who along with daughter Jodi co-wrote a newly published children’s book, “RALLY CAPS.” Jodi’s son Jordan, who is hearing impaired and wears a cochlear implant, was the inspiration behind this book. According to Steve, Jodi wanted to provide a strong character in literature that her son, my grandson, could identify with. Curtis Pride, the only deaf player in major league baseball, appreciated their effort and graciously endorsed the book. Pride made history in 1996 when he got his first major league hit to a standing ovation while with the Montreal Expos. He later went on to play for the Tigers, Braves, Red Sox and Angels. Plus, since Steve and Jodi gave Cal Ripken Jr. a major role in the story line, a bookstore in Cooperstown has invited them to come up for a signing during the week of Ripken’s induction to the Hall of Fame this summer. For more information go to http://www.rallycaps2007.wordpress.com.