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Hodges set to scale the Parkinson mountain

» Climb will take on Mt. Everest to help raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease

“Good things are done when men and mountains meet.”  poet William Blake

By NASH NUNNERY

Adam Hodges has been scaling the world’s most iconic mountains for over 20 years.

From Mt. Rainer (his first) in Washington state to Mt. Elbrus, Europe’s tallest peak, to Aconcagua, South America’s highest, the 55-year old certified personal trainer’s goal is to climb the highest mountains on each of the seven continents.

For Hodges’ next mountaineering adventure, the Bailey, Mississippi native will be scraping the ceiling of the Earth – Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest summit (29,028 feet.) and the granddaddy of all mountains.

Only 5,000 people have successfully summited Mt. Everest since the first climbers made it to the top in 1953. Over 300 have lost their lives in the attempt, including 11 in 2019. Climbers face especially dangerous conditions in the so-called “death zone” above 26,000 feet.

Hodges, however, is undeterred.

His next climb is for a higher purpose — to bring awareness to Parkinson’s disease and those fighting the debilitating effects of the affliction that has no cure. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation estimates there are more than one million people in the United States diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and more than 60,000 people are diagnosed each year.

Late last year, Hodges founded Ascent For A Cure (www.ascentforacure.com), a foundation dedicated to raising awareness and funding for Parkinson’s disease. Hodges, the general manager of Anderson Health and Fitness Center in Meridian, says AFAC started last August as he is working to secure a deal with Rock Steady Boxing, a program dedicated to help people in their fight against Parkinson’s.

In Rock Steady Boxing, exercises are largely adapted from boxing drills and Parkinson’s disease is the opponent. Exercises vary in purpose and form but share one common trait — they are rigorous and intended to extend the perceived capabilities of the participant.

“We started with four members and we now have 34, each of them fighting Parkinson’s,” Hodges said. “Our team has seen virtually every member of the program make improvements, and I’ve personally formed many great friendships with members. It took off and has helped improve life quality for all those that participate.

“I’ve learned that Parkinson’s does not discriminate. It affects doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers and clergy. Everyone.”

Hodges’ goal is to raise $150,000 for the foundation, and he’s already received sponsorship commitments from Anderson and Rock Steady Boxing.

Formerly in public accounting with a Houston accounting firm, Hodges changed his career path to fitness a decade ago. He’s earned certifications in personal training and CrossFit. Though an experienced mountaineer, he admits summiting Mt. Everest presents several challenges, including months of physical preparation and weeks of acclimatization to the mountain’s oxygen-starved altitudes.

“It’s a nine-day trek just to the Nepal base camp, which is at 17,000 feet, “said Hodges. “I’ve done CrossFit for eight years and have climbed some high mountains. But I’m training differently for this, adding long distance running to my regimen and layering lots of endurance training on top of that. It will a six-week grind attempting to climb Everest – we’re leaving April 5.”

Hodges also has developed The Everest Fitness Challenge app, a specially designed program created to mimic the actual training he’s already begun.

“We encourage people to “iD” their own Everest on the training app. It could be their first 5K, Cross-Fit or they just want to lose weight.,” he said. “It’s scaled to fit what they want to accomplish.”

The 55-year old Hodges is fully aware of the challenges awaiting him as he plans to summit the world’s highest mountain.

“I have a wife (Laura) and four kids, and everything to live for – I might even ask myself along the way: ‘Why am I here?’,” he said. “But, I don’t do it as a thrill-seeking experience. I truly want to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease.

“My plan is to be successful and come home healthy.”

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