Ten years ago, Hodge started the “Chicot Challenge,” an annual open water marathon swim that he used to raise awareness about diabetes as well as donations for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi (DFM). In past years, Hodge inscribed the names of the DFM’s “Kandu Kids” with a Sharpie on his arms and shoulders for inspiration and swam a record 23 miles in the 2016 Challenge. He raised over $14,000 over the past ten years for the DFM children’s programs through a GoFundMe page.
As a change of pace for 2021, Hodge is planning to run from his home in Greenwood, Mississippi, to the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi's office in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Hodge says, "...the stage run to Ridgeland is the thing that grabs my imagination and shakes it like a feisty dog shaking a squirrel."
Right now, Hodge's plan is to run about 20 miles a day. His planned itinerary is as follows:
He will leave home in Greenwood on Friday (May 6), and plans to run down Highway 430 as far as possible - maybe to Blackhawk. His wife, Penny, will pick him up and take him to stay with family for the night.
Day two (May 7) Hodge will be dropped off where he stopped on day one and plans to run to West, Mississippi, where he will meet a friend who has graciously agreed to house him for the night.
By day three, (May 8) Hodge wants to be in Pickens. There are no motels, so a friend will take him to a hotel in another city.
On day four (May 9), friends will return him to the place he left off in Pickens, so he can run to Canton to stay there overnight.
On day five, (May 10) Hodge plans to finish at the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi's office in Ridgeland. His wife will shadow him on this leg of the trip.
"A plan of this sort is always a gamble, because the training load has to be high and the injury rate low. In fact, any injury will derail the whole thing in a moment," said Hodge. “But as our Mars rover, Perseverance, says, “Dare mighty things!””
The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi (DFM) is the state’s only nonprofit health organization that provides diabetes information, patient services and advocacy, and its mission is to provide hope through programs, services and research to the 373,000 Mississippians with diabetes. Every dollar raised by the DFM stays in the state to support these efforts. For many years, the DFM has received the coveted Charity Navigator four-star rating, the highest rating awarded to nonprofit organizations nationally. All proceeds from the Old Geezer Run will benefit the children’s programs of the DFM.