A million bucks would be nice, but RIT/NTID graduate Luke Adams wanted other rewards when he applied to be on The Amazing Race.
“Money was a nice perk if it happened, but I really wanted to experience it. I just love the games,” he says.
Adams, 23, of Monument, Colo., is the first deaf contestant on the popular CBS reality show. He and his mother, Margie, are one of 11 teams to race on the show’s new season, which began Feb. 15.
Adams and his mother began the race with the other teams on Oct. 31 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.
Margie Adams 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 says. “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.”
During a pre-race interview, mother and son said using sign language may be an advantage so they could communicate and strategize privately.
Born deaf, Adams received a cochlear implant but doesn’t use it. He communicates using American Sign Language.
Adams 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 says. “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.”
Adams, who received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2008, learned he was selected to be a contestant last summer. He and his mother have already gotten many e-mails from friends, strangers and former The 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 Adams 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.”
Adams 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.”