CBS's megahit reality series, The Amazing Race, not only entertains couch-potato adventurers but inspires those who want to take a shot at competing for the million-dollar grand prize. Luke Adams tried once, unsuccessfully, but tried again, and, to his surprise, was accepted as a contestant. His hearing mother, Margie, who can sign and interpret, was his teammate. Luke was the first Deaf competitor in the original (U.S.) edition of the globally popular Race. Conscious of the significance of his participation on the Race, he said that he wanted to show that Deaf people are capable of doing just about anything. Taking on the challenges, and doing well, would be the best possible rebuttal to those who consider deaf people (especially culturally-Deaf people) less capable than hearing persons. His fellow competitors learned not to underestimate him.
Season 14 was broadcast on Sunday evenings from February 15 to May 10, 2009. Margie and Luke came in first three times, on Episodes 1, 5, and 8, winning three Travelocity trips. They stayed in the Race all the way to the finale at the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Maui, coming in third, behind first-placers Tammy & Victor and second-placers Jaime & Cara—a respectable finish for a competitor who didn't think he'd ever be accepted.
Luke bungee-jumped down the Verzasca Dam near Locarno, Switzerland, carried (or tried to carry) 50-pound cheese wheels (four for each team) down a steep, slippery slope at Kleine Rugen Wiese, coping with the breakapart back-mounted cheese carriers; reluctantly engaged in a pie-throwing escapade with Margie (Austria); smashed old frames filled with fake blood on stakes at Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania; stacked wood in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia (their stack collapsed just after they received their next clue): took a "Scrabbled" bobsled run; operated a snowplow in Stadium Spartak, Novobirsk, then took a one-and-a-quarter-mile jog in his underwear and boots; piled hay and fetched water for a herd of camels in Jaipur, India, joined a troupe of street dancers, donning a colorful horse-and-rider costume to collect at least 100 rupees (around $2) for the band from onlookers (and his performance went over quite well with the locals); was "tapped" and sat on (gently) by an elephant in the Phuket Zoo (Thailand); matched dentures to toothless "patients" in the Street of Happy Smiles (Bangkok); directed a cormorant to retrieve fish tossed into the river in Guilin, China (he got bitten); received a traditional reflexological foot massage (Beijing), which was so painful that he was biting his baseball cap); swam 200 meters, Olympic-style; transported a Travelocity gnome in a bicycle basket (a task that had unforeseeable complications, not shown on camera); and made Margie up as a Chinese-opera character at the Huguang Huiguan Opera House. In Maui, Hawaii, he and Margie seasoned and carried a 146-pound pig on a bamboo pole 200 yards (and the Adamses were the only team who carried their pig properly, supporting the pole on their shoulders), rode a personal watercraft to a field of 100 buoys to get the next clue; and chose 11 surfboards from a huge pile and arranged them in the correct order, with images symbolizing the 11 legs of the Race. This final task went smoothly until Luke had to find the final two elusive boards, and although he started with a comfortable lead, was ultimately outpaced by his competitors. He and Margie arrived at the finish line exhausted, but happy. It took both of them a while to recuperate and get back to a normal sleeping and eating schedule. They've kept in contact with several other Racers, and have some extraordinary tales to tell.
As a military "brat," Luke had a well-traveled childhood, growing up with a taste for adventure and travel. He majored in Criminal Justice at RIT, and served as staffer during the 2009 Summer Vestibule Program (SVP) at NTID. He's shared his adventures publicly, and concedes that he'd like to revisit some of the places he saw in the Race. We wish him a good journey.