As I write this at 1:30 p.m. on December 25, 2010, The Beautiful Heth is driving us to New London for Christmas Part II, I’m in the passenger seat typing, and Things 1, 2 & 3 are asleep in the back seat, already wiped out by a Christmas that began for us nearly eight hours ago.
And I’ll be hog-tied if I don’t miss that crazy bunch called Hodges.
Way back in the olden days – you know, 2009 A.D. – when Tiger Woods was best known for his golf, BP was just another oil company, and we were counting our hoops by the thousands instead of the hundred-thousands, the first donation that came our way was from that very Hodges family – Papa Chris, his wife Tiffany, and their two sons, Kyle and Drew.
They were among the earliest adopters of Hoops For Heroes, these Hodges, and their support has not waned. They set us up for a 5,000-hoop day in Waterville Valley, where Chris is the Director of Public Safety, last February … and another 3,000 in October. They introduced us to the Decoteau family, our greatest source of daily inspiration. They joined us for No. 500,000 in New York City in November.
They hosted a sleepover. They write often. They wear the T-shirts.
So I guess it should come as no surprise that this same Hodges family would be the foursome to volunteer to join us for a little rebounding on Christmas Day.
I mean, look at them up there. Is that a picture of positivity, or what? That’s Drew in the front. He’s in sixth grade, the basketball player in the bunch. He was in his mom’s belly in Cape Neddick, Maine, 11 Augusts ago when TBH and I were married. That’s Kyle, in the blue T-shirt. He’s a sophomore at Plymouth High School, where he plays football for the legendary Chuck Lenahan and spends this time of year ski racing and jumping. Far left? Right, that’s Tiff, the mom, identical twin to our pal Kara and one of Heth’s bestest oldest buddies, from the glory days of Merrimack Valley Regional High School. She was softballish, about like Heth was field hockeyish.
So that leaves Chris, on the far right. Chris, whom I barely knew before this whole thing began, but who has absolutely become one of our greatest advocates, always willing to make a call or plan an event or make a trip or crane his neck for a couple hours for the cause. That same Chris, by the way, is an accomplished long-distance cyclist, who not-so-incidentally holds the record for the fastest time from Fairlee, Vermont, to Fryeburg, Maine — 80 miles in 4 hours, 16 minutes. One cool hombre, this Christopher Hodges. One cooooooooooooooooooooooool hombre, with one super-cool family.
Oh, right, we were talking about shooting. The Hodges came, the Hodges saw, the Hodges conquered … right there at Epsom Central on Christmas Day. With four of them rotating between the various jobs, we drained 2,000 in a speedy hour and 25 minutes, bringing our grand total to 565,507 down, 434,493 to go to 1 million made foul shots.
And so …
We’re back from our New London-style Christmas now, hanging out with Mason as he puts together LEGO Hogwarts Castle. Noah’s in his room, playing with some new Christmas loot himself, and Rosie’s where she should be after a day of reckless Christmas abandon: asleep.
I’m texting with friends I haven’t heard from in awhile, learning of a pal who’s pregnant with No. 4 (Congrats, Mr. and Mrs. S!), missing those Hodges people like mad … and just now stopping to remember that there are soldiers all over the world who, on our behalf, aren’t having the same holiday experience that we are.
We thank them for voluntarily saying goodbye to their loved ones so that we may share this day with ours. It’s a sacrifice that I can’t quite fathom, but one that fills me with gratitude every day.
For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit www.hoopsforheroes.com or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.