Concussions forced Cody Hodges to give up his dream of professional football earlier than he’d anticipated, but his head was still on straight as far as what he wanted to do with his life after football.
Hanging up the pads for good in the spring of 2007, Hodges wanted to do something with his life that would make a positive impact on the lives of others. He then remembered a presentation he’d heard on a Saturday night in his hometown of Hereford a few years before.
Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel was killed in the Columbine High School shooting in Denver in 1999, was giving a presentation for Rachel’s Challenge, a school program that started after the Columbine shooting with a mission to promote safer learning environments to help make a world-wide impact.
“I heard the presentation and I was blown away by his daughter’s story,” Hodges said. “Rachel Scott was the first person killed that day and it started in her memory. She had never met anyone famous or had never done anything big that got a lot of attention, but after her death a lot of classmates started coming forward about all these good things she had done for other people.”
Inspired by Rachel’s selfless acts, Hodges decided he wanted to become part of that mission. More than six years later, he still works for Rachel’s Challenge full time and travels around the country, speaking to students at more than 100 schools during the course of the year.
“We speak about taking action through love and kindness,” Hodges said. “We believe people can be kind and can be compassionate and treat people the right way. There’s so much focus on teenagers and so much focus on what they’re not supposed to do. We show them what they can do.”
Hodges’ impact on the lives of others doesn’t stop there.
For the past 11/2 years, he and his wife, Christy, have gotten involved with an orphanage in Haiti called New Hope: Haiti Mission and makes several trips each year.
“We went with a group in March of 2012 and my wife and I felt like this is something that the Lord really put on our hearts to get involved,” Hodges said. “As a Christian we need to do our part. That’s what we’re doing with funding and taking kids to school, and helping meet basic needs, not just go for three days and think we’re really blessed. It’s more discipleship where we can help make a difference, so that’s what I’m doing now.”
The orphanage has a mission to rescue, rebuild and restore and is currently home to 21 kids. Housing a smaller number of kids allows Hodges and the rest of the support staff to spend more individual time with each one.
“A lot of orphanages in Haiti have 200 to 300 kids. It’s hard to raise that many kids the right way and really give them the care they need. Our mission statement is not Americans coming in to make Haiti better, but Haitians that come in to make Haiti better.”
The Hodges originally went to Haiti because they had trouble getting pregnant with a child of their own. A few years later and after gaining more experience working with children, their prayers were answered.
“I’m now the dad of an 11-week old little girl,” Hodges said. “My job is to raise her the right way. The Lord is good no matter what and he allowed us to get pregnant and now we have a little girl, Marlowe Jane.”
West Texans remember No. 10 being one of the more mobile quarterbacks of the Mike Leach era and leading the Red Raiders to home wins against Texas A&M and Oklahoma and a road win against Nebraska in a season that passed expectations. Hodges, however, wants to be remembered for more than just football.
“If people had to describe me, that’s what I hope they would say is that I love Jesus and that I follow Him,” Hodges said. “A lot of folks say they love Jesus but don’t really follow Him.”
“Football was great, being the man was great, all of that was great, but that doesn’t define me. As the starting quarterback, you get booed when you throw a bad pass and cheered when you throw a good one. I knew that identity needs to be in Him and not in man’s praise.”
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