Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Too Big to Fail- Jordan Levin- Inspirational Story!

By Jimmy Risk: (look for Jordan's video, posted below)

For the past six months I have heard the phrase, "Too Big to Fail" ad nauseum. I cannot really comprehend being too big to fail because everything I learned in my life told me that there is no safety net for failure. You walk out on life's high wire, breathe easy, and some how find the other end.

MICHIGAN (YN)- The phrase TBTF seems to infer that brainless institutions made irresponsible decisions are afraid of the other side. Jordan Levin never feared the flip side of winning because his parents Marty and Mollene decided after a devastating diagnosis that life itself, was too big to fail for Jordan.

He came into this world prematurely on his parents bed at 31 oz and rushed to a hospital where he'd stay for the next 4 months on a respirator in between multiple surgeries. With hands the size of a fingernail and a 10% chance to live at birth meant coming home to a crib was the first of many successful walks across that high wire. He had been born four months earlier, but we were told developmentally it was as if he were just born" said Mollene Levin as they brought him home.

Life moved at a slower pace for Jordan until he was 2½ years old. That is when he was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf caused by his premature birth. His parents were told he would never speak and sign language would be a logical recourse for communicating with people who could do so. Anyone meeting Mollene Levin for more than 10 minutes can surmise that such a diagnosis would carry no water.

A trip to a Toronto conference where deaf children guru Dr. Ciwa Griffiths proclaimed, "Don't let anyone tell you your profoundly deaf child can't do something! That was all the Levins needed to hear. Years of auditory training and Jordans natural ability to read lips allowed him to go to traditional schools and lead a normal life. As Jordan said, "My parents never gave an inch. The bar was set high and I had to clear it". Clear it he did. Jordan played most sports in grade and high school but excelled in hockey which (at age 32) he plays and still, tucks his shirt in like Wayne Gretzky did". It is all chronicled in a tell all book by Marty Levin called, "We Were Relentless". A family's journey to overcome disability.

And here I was on the first day of Spring, watching Jordan Levin giving a motivational speech to a group of 12 year old boys who had volunteered to take care of special needs children on a regular basis. I was looking at a guy who from birth navigated life through the eye of a needle. Here he was passionately fighting for a group of children that these 12 year olds would one day steward. Jordan Levin made it perfectly clear that there was a bar to be set and met.

Life is still too big to fail for Jordan Levin. Today he is a physical trainer by trade and a budding motivational speaker. He has dedicated his life to making sure that deaf and special needs children and their overseers understand that life is a high wire to be walked on with equal footing, if only they'll try.

Jordan's Video

Monday, March 30, 2009

Voices of Disability: Relentless parents help deaf son build successful life

Sunday, March 15, 2009 2:17 AM EDT

With gentle and proper pushes here and there, Jordan Levin, who was born deaf, is on his way at 32 to a successful and full life.

“I always thought of myself as being normal,” he said in an interview after his father, Martin, wrote and self-published a 152-page book about their lives dealing with a child who was born with a disability.

The book, “We Were Relentless: A Family’s Journey to Overcome Disability” by Martin J. Levin was published by Xlibris. It went on sale Jan. 27 and is available online at, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders.

Martin Levin, an optometrist, and his wife, Mollene, an artist and former teacher, said they helped their son, now 32 and who will be married June 6 to Hillary Fisher, by “trying to take on the burden of what was going on.”

One remarkable thing about Jordan Levin, who graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in business administration, is he could “naturally read lips,” his mother said.

Jordan, whose speech became understandable to people outside the family when he was 8, is a personal fitness trainer and motivational speaker.

He lives in a condominium in Keego Harbor.

“He has phenomenal comprehension,” Jordan’s mother said. “He can lip read what you’re saying, if you have a toothbrush in your mouth, and understand.”

“We never treated him any different at all,” said Jordan’s father, Martin. “Even when he had limited speech, we put him into situations where he had to take care of himself.”

Jordan communicates by speaking and a trained ear can hear only a slight difference from any hearing person’s speech.

Jordan graduated from Bloomfield Hills Andover.

Martin Levin said he wrote the book because, “I think his story needed to be told.”

“It is unique. Most people with this type of hearing loss do not speak, most sign,” he said referring to those who use American Sign Language to communicate. “He fits into society seamlessly.”

Jordan is a “phenomenal” water skier, snow skier and hockey player, his parents said.

“High school was a great challenge,” Jordan said, “because I had a very hard time learning material for different classes.”

At that time, doctors determined Jordan had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and gave him medication.

“From that point on, I had to learn how to study all over again,” Jordan said.

As for becoming a certified personal trainer, Jordan said it was a natural outcome of his love for sports.

“I love helping people,” he said. “One of the main things is I want to be able to teach people how to be relentless in the pursuit of dreams.

“That’s my main message,” Jordan added.

“When Jordan was younger, we told teachers to not be afraid to tell him that you don’t understand what he said,” Mollene said. “You’re helping him by doing that.”

Martin said he and his wife had to teach Jordan to identify some of the sounds he is able to hear with hearing aids. He is profoundly deaf, meaning he has far less than 30 percent of normal hearing.

When Jordan when he was growing up, “We had to let him know that a sound came from a plane, or a bird and we taught him five new words each day,” Martin said.

“You can’t naturally identify a dog barking or a phone ringing, so we had to teach Jordan what those sounds meant and where they came from,” he said.

Jordan said he loves an iPod because “I can teach myself to hear music” with it.

“It’s great, because I am able to download lyrics to a song,” he added. “I then print out the words and read them. I teach myself the songs,” he said, adding he is a “great dancer.”

“There’s not a lot of parents out there who are willing to work with a disabled child,” Martin said.

Jordan hopes to not only expand his personal training business but also do more motivational speaking.

“Two weeks ago, I spoke at an elementary school. A kid asked me where I’d be if I didn’t learn how to speak. ‘Would you be here today?’ I really couldn’t answer that,” he said.

But Jordan is here today, functioning normally, most likely because of the relentlessness of his parents — in their patience in teaching him something every day of his life and in giving him their unconditional love.

Contact Oakland Press staff writer Jerry Wolffe at (248) 745-4612 or

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jordan Spoke to 4th graders


DATE: February 18, 2009



Doherty Elementary School will be conducting a Disability Awareness Day for their 4th grade students on Thursday, February 26. Students will become more aware of the needs of individuals with disabilities and how to respect people regardless of how they may look, act, talk or walk.

Students will rotate through different stations; deaf and hard of hearing, speech impairment, vision impairment, Braille, learning disability stations and physical impairment stations. Hands on interaction will be encouraged by students participating in a wheel chair obstacle course, by speaking with an electric larynx and participating in handicap accessibility activities throughout the school.
At 1:30 p.m. there will be a presentation from the Leader Dogs for the Blind organization. Then at 2:30 p.m., Jordan Levin will speak about his hearing loss, his perseverance and accomplishments.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Detroit Jewish News

Our most recent article in the Detroit Jewish News!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Local author writes about son

Local author writes about son’s
success despite hearing loss
Photo by Donna Agusti
Jordan Levin, 32, poses with his parents, Mollene and Marty,
in West Bloomfield. Jordan has overcome hearing loss to become a
personal fitness trainer and motivational speaker.

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Although birth complications left Jordan Levin profoundly deaf, his life story will have no problems making itself heard.

Levin’s family is preparing to launch his father’s self-published book, “We Were Relentless: A Family’s Journey to Overcome Disability,” in West Bloomfield Feb. 15.

Jordan’s father, Marty Levin, felt the urge to document his son’s story of perseverance and accomplishment in the wake of hearing loss, and started writing the book about five years ago. Both father and son are thrilled to put their memories on paper.

“They told us that (Jordan) would never be able to speak, and we didn’t take that as an answer,” Marty said.

Jordan, 32, of Keego Harbor was born three months premature, and doctors warned that he could die or suffer motor skill problems. While neither situation happened, he did lose his hearing.

However, Jordan learned to read lips and — through extensive training — to speak. He went on to graduate college and become a motivational speaker and personal fitness trainer.

According to his father, the book depicts Jordan as an open, confident boy who was largely unaware that he was different from other people until he was 8. That was when the closed-captioned subtitles on TV told him they were for the hearing impaired.

At times, the process of writing “We Were Relentless” was very emotional, Marty explained.

“It’s hard to tell things about our family,” he said. “My wife said she was actually surprised ... because I was that open with my feelings. I really exposed myself.”

Marty said “We Were Relentless” would appeal to people who want to experience an inspiring, feel-good story in a time when everything else seems to be so bad. Parents of young children could also find the story attractive, he added.

“Everyone has their concerns about how their kids are going to be,” he said. “Their children could do anything if someone like Jordan could.”

Jordan’s mother, Mollene, said her favorite part of the book is the epilogue, which Jordan wrote. She added that her son learned a lot from the book because it describes the private burdens his parents faced in making sure that he had the best care possible.

“A lot of it has never been shared with anyone,” she said.

Jordan hopes the new book will open doors for his motivational speaking career, in which he teaches people how to be relentless in pursuit of their dreams. “What I’m looking forward to most is being able to share the passion that I have for life and being able to share that with others,” he said.

“We Were Relentless” is available for sale online at the book’s official Web site, and it is expected to be sold on the, Barnes & Noble and Borders Web sites next month. “We’re looking for a distributor to put it in bookstores,” Marty said.

The “We Were Relentless” book launch will occur at 4 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Janice Charach Gallery at the Jewish Community Center, 6600 W. Maple Road. To RSVP, call (248) 851-9757. For more information about the book, go to

Fierce devotion helps overcome life challenges

This article was in the West Bloomfield Eccentric on Monday. It is amazing the amount of media coverage we have gotten. I hope you enjoy reading these articles.

Jordan Levin, now 32, was born three months premature and is profoundly deaf. He earned a business degree from Michigan State University and now works as a personal trainer and a motivational speaker. (Lawrence McKee | Staff Photographer)

By Sara Callender • ECCENTRIC STAFF WRITER • February 8, 2009

Life was a lesson for Jordan Levin.

"At meal time, we would say, 'Here's a fork. Here's meat. Meat is brown. It comes from a cow,'" Jordan's dad, Martin Levin, said. "It was the same kind of thing at the grocery store."

When Jordan was about 2 years old, he was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf - if an airplane was in the back yard, Jordan would barely hear it, Martin said. So Martin and his wife, Mollene, of West Bloomfield, took on the daunting task of teaching Jordan - now 32 - how to speak.

Martin shares their inspiring story in his new book, We Were Relentless.

"I would hope that the readers gain the understan

ding to never take no for an answer," Martin said. "There is a way to get there."

Jordan's life was an "adventure" from the very beginning. He was born three months early, weighing only 31 ounces, with hands the size of a man's fingernail. The Levins were told he wouldn't survive.

But after a series of risky operations, Jordan thrived. After 59 days on a ventilator and a total of four months in the hospital, Jordan finally came home.

"We knew he would be developmentally delayed because he was born so early," Mollene said. "But by the time he was 2, he had very limited language skills, not even baby babble, so we had him tested."

Martin Leven (left) wrote a book called 'We Were Relentless.' The book is about raising a hearing-impaired son, Jordan (right) and the trials and tribulations he and his wife Mollene fought went through. (Lawrence McKee | Staff Photographer)

The best option, doctors advised, would be to teach Jordan sign language, but the Levins weren't happy with that diagnosis. Instead, they researched auditory training, a method to teach Jordan to make the most of his hearing, how to identify sounds and to speak.

To teach him the "L" sound, for example, they put peanut butter on the roof of his mouth. For a "P," they put a candle in front of him to see if he could blow it out.

"We literally started from the ground up," Martin said. "We had to teach him every single sound. Hard doesn't even do it justice because he had never heard any of these sounds. Babies learn by imitating but he couldn't hear."

In order to see positive results, the Levins knew they had to commit 100 percent to the program. Although they were speaking at a 2-year-old level, Jordan entered a normal kindergarten when he was 5.

They met resistance, though, from some teachers who thought Jordan should be enrolled in a special education class.

Throughout elementary and a middle school, Mollene met with his teachers every day to see what was being taught. She would then go home and reteach it all to Jordan.

Jordan was involved in all classroom activities - Mollene transcribed a mock trial in middle school - and he even took one semester of Spanish in high school. The Levins were determined that Jordan would have a normal life in other ways, too.

He participated in every imaginable sport, like waterskiing, swimming, hockey and baseball. He would study in the back seat of the car on the way to games and go over lessons in between innings.

Jordan never felt like he was missing out on anything.

"I never thought my life was anything other than normal until I read the book," Jordan said. "I always did what I wanted, when I wanted, and they did all the worrying for me."

Jordan graduated from Andover High School and earned a business degree from Michigan State University. He currently works as a personal trainer and gives motivational speeches.

"Yeah, school was hard but school can be hard for kids who can hear," Jordan said. "I didn't blame things on the fact that I couldn't hear or use it as an excuse. Being positive will get you a long way."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009



Here it is! We have finally launched the book! It is 6 years in the making. It really was a coordinated effort by everyone in the family. My heart goes out to my parents Marty and Mollene for making this a reality. Countless number of hours spent going through all the details to be sure we had everything in place.

Words cannot describe what I am feeling at the moment. For me, it is just the beginning of my newest chapter. I look forward to sharing that with all of you.

Hope to see you at the launch party! for details go here

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Chapter 1:
The high pitched scream broke the silence. The tiny collection of skin,
bones, and blood that moments before we thought to be a miscarriage, cried.
The baby that wasn’t to be, was born three months premature.
Although Mollene had been spotting a bit, we were assured that we
shouldn’t be concerned. She had an appointment with the ob-gyn at ten o’clock on the following morning.
But then I received an unexpected, hysterical call at my office.
“Marty, the doctor didn’t get a heartbeat and has scheduled me for an
ultrasound prior to having a D & C,” Mollene sputtered faster than her normal rate of speech, which at its slowest rivaled the speed of sound.
“Slow down and say it a little slower.” I urged her.
She repeated herself, but the message remained the same. We had been
cruising along enjoying one of the happiest times of our lives when this tragic situation befriended us. However, the procedure couldn’t be scheduled for a few days.