It started at midnight on Friday, Sept. 2. Dave Cummings (right), of Epsom, started shooting free throws at the Waterville Valley Recreation Department gymnasium. Joining him as a rebounder was his friend Chris Hodges, of Thornton. Cummings has been on a two year quest to make one million free throws by this upcoming Veteran’s Day and, in the process, raise awareness and funds for Hoops for Heroes, a non-profit organization founded by Cummings that supports the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
For the past couple of years Dave has shot 1,000-1,500 free throws every single day; in his backyard, at local school gymnasiums, even at the Boston Garden! On this early September day Cummings was determined to make 21,000 free throws in a 24 hour period – more than twice his personal best and a new Guinness World Record.
The number 21,000 was significant for another reason. Cummings was shooting for “21” in honor of Army Spc. Marc Paul Decoteau. September 2 would have been Marc’s 21st birthday.
Marc Decoteau (left), who grew up in Waterville Valley and attended Plymouth Regional High School, has a special place in Dave Cummings’ heart. Shortly after Marc was killed in 2010, Cummings was shooting free throws at the Waterville Valley Rec. Dept. Marc’s parents, Mark and Nancy, supported Dave and his Hoops for Heroes effort. They presented him with a dog tag with young Marc’s image and told him to return it to them when he makes the one millionth shot. Cummings has not removed the dog tag from around his neck since that day.
On Friday, Sept. 2, Chris Hodges was by Dave Cummings’ side during his record-breaking attempt; rebounding, massaging, and cheering his friend on. Cummings shot free throws from midnight until shortly after 9 p.m. when he exhaustedly sunk the 21,000th shot from the free throw line. There were cheers and tears, and hugs and kisses as Dave Cummings made his way around the gymnasium shaking every single person’s hand and thanking them for their support.
A little over a week later Cummings and Hodges reversed roles.
Early on Sunday morning, Sept. 11, Chris Hodges (right) mounted his bicycle in Pittsburg, NH at the Canadian border and began his quest for a record and to raise funds and awareness for Hoops for Heroes, and to honor the memory of those lost in the 9/11 attacks and since then. And Dave Cummings was right there with him, providing support and encouragement.
Chris is the Director of Public Safety for the town of Waterville Valley. He’s been an avid cyclist for a number of years.
He said, “I was motivated by what Dave is doing – his dedication and commitment every single day for two years to raise money for Hoops for Heroes. I thought, what can I do? I ride a bike. Maybe I can ride and draw attention to the cause.”
Hodges already holds the cycling record for traversing New Hampshire from east to west. He decided to go for the cross state record, cycling from the Canadian border to the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border.
“It was quite a challenge. I had no idea how it was going to end up,” Chris said in his quiet, understated manner.
The previous cross state record was 13 hours, 39 minutes. Hodges said that in earlier attempts cyclists chose the route with the least amount of hills, averaging 250-260 miles.
Chris said, “I chose the route with hill climbs because it is shorter, about 229 miles.” Even if the hills caused him to be slower, he felt that he could make up the time difference.
And, did he ever make up time. Hodges started out at the Canadian border in darkness at 5:50 a.m. and arrived in Hollis, NH at the Massachusetts border 12 hours and 37 minutes later – a new cross state cycling record. He averaged 18 mph, which included stops for breaks, and he burned 15,000 calories.
When asked how much weight he lost, he smiled and answered, “I don’t know. I didn’t weigh myself.”
Hodges’ support team included his wife, Tiffany, and sons Kyle and Drew, and his mother Elizabeth Martin. Also by his side throughout Chris’ epic journey was his friend and fellow record-breaker, Dave Cummings, with Marc Paul Decoteau’s image lying close to his heart.
Learn more about Hoops for Heroes and how you can support this worthy cause at hoopsforheroes.com.
Above: After shattering the cross state cycling record, Chris Hodges presents a check to Dave Cummings of Hoops for Heroes for $1,500.
Above: Chris Hodges (l) and Dave Cummings (r) at Waterville Valley Recreation Department following Dave’s Guinness World Record for free throws in a 24-hour period.
Above: Dave Cummings shooting for a record. Rebounders include the parents of Army Spc. Marc Paul Decoteau, Mark and Nancy, and youngest son, Andrew Decoteau, a student at West Point Prep.
Above: Dave Cummings (center, kneeling) BREAKS THE RECORD! Surrounded by his rebounders, friends & family.
Above: Dave Cummings celebrates his record-breaking day by taking down the net.
Above l-r: Andrew Decoteau, Dave Cummings, Mark Decoteau, Nancy Decoteau