- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - When Jeff Hobbs runs the Chicago Marathon in a couple of weeks, a bus full of fans from his hometown will be there to cheer him on.

The 35-year-old Clinton man is a native of Coal City, Illinois. Family members, friends and other supporters plan to watch the Oct. 12 marathon in support of Hobbs, who was born with a physical disability, the Quad-City Times reported (http://bit.ly/1mM3Ew0 ).

Hobbs has what is called the spastic form of cerebral palsy, and it affects both his arms and legs. He thinks he is the first person with the condition to run a marathon, which is 26.2 miles in length.

It may take him seven hours to finish the course that winds through Chicago on the city streets.

In the process, he may suffer stress fractures in his feet, something that has happened in the past.

He plans to run through the pain.

Hobbs obviously has guts and no small amount of courage. “Guts, The Jeff Hobbs Story” is, in fact, the title of a 30-minute documentary about Hobbs. It will be rerun on Comcast SportsNet Chicago at least twice later in October.

Hobbs is a graduate of the former Mount St. Clare College in Clinton. He went there after graduating from high school and was on the track and cross country teams at both levels. He now makes a living as a motivational speaker, talking to school groups, teams, corporations and businesses all over the country.

He has been fighting naysayers all his life. As a child, he was told he could not play Little League baseball, youth football or basketball. He settled on running, which he does with an altered gait that makes him more susceptible to the stress fracture injuries.

Hobbs decided last year that he wanted to run a marathon, so he got an examination from a sports medicine expert in Iowa City. He was told not to run, that his body would break down.

“I don’t like being told I can’t do something,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs - not averse to taking risks - then found his way to Genesis Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine at 53rd Street and Eastern Avenue in Davenport. He works out there almost daily with physical therapists, including Matt Rokes.

Hobbs uses special workout equipment, including the Alter G anti-gravity treadmill and the Hydroworx underwater treadmill. Both pieces of equipment decrease the force of weight on his feet, Rokes said.

Rokes, who is very aware of Hobbs’ tendency toward stress fractures, is making sure the man’s running shoes are in good condition and have some extra padding. The Genesis therapists also have been working to help change Hobbs’ gait a little bit.

“The mechanics he has now are the best he’s ever had,” Rokes said.

He salutes Hobbs for his mental strength and courage.

“A lot of people would never even attempt a marathon,” he saidd.

Rokes plans to accompany Hobbs to Chicago, helping him to get ready to run and to alleviate whatever pain results.

Debra Condotti met Hobbs when he was just a boy. Condotti, the executive director at Easter Seals of Joliet, Illinois, has been a friend of Hobbs’ mother since the two were in elementary school.

“I’ve known Jeff’s family all my life,” she said.

Hobbs has a mild form of cerebral palsy that was noticed at birth, so he received early intervention services, including forms of physical therapy available through the Easter Seals. Although all four of his limbs are affected, Condotti said there is a mild degree of impact on each arm and leg.

She describes Hobbs as a “very, very determined man” who has been motivated since he was quite young. Not only is Hobbs interested in physical achievement, but he also wants to help others become motivated to build their self-esteem and reach personal goals.

Hobbs is grateful for the support he has received from the team of therapists who have surrounded him during his marathon training.

“There are always risks involved in life, but I’d rather be a risk-taker and fall short rather than never know,” he said. “I can’t live my life in fear. I have to trust in preparation and believe in myself.”

His goal is to be in the best physical condition he can, and he has suspended his work commitments in order to prepare for the Oct. 12 event.

“No one does this sort of thing with my type of cerebral palsy,” Hobbs said, pointing out the multiple times he has been told he can’t engage in sports and other physical activities.

“This is not a sob story,” he said. “It’s about resiliency. If people can look at me and see how I can overcome obstacles, maybe they will be inspired, too.”

___

Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com

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