By Susan Schulz
The tragic loss of Percilla Hodge turned into her husband’s quest to raise funds to fight the disease that took her life. The young widower started PAMAH Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of the deadly disease meningitis, supporting families affected by it, and funding research.
Meet the inspiration for this foundation: Percilla Ann Marie April-Hodge (PAMAH).
“Percilla loved everything about the Thanksgiving holiday. She loved it so much we would often tease her about her plans for Thanksgiving dinner, which normally started in the month of July,” husband Shaquille said. “Her greatest joy was spending time with family and friends. Known as a peacemaker, she loved to see others joyful.”
During the summer of 2018, however, everything changed for the Hodge family. While on a July family trip to the beach, Percilla complained of a headache. Not wanting to spoil the kids’ day of fun, she told her husband she was heading back to the room to take medicine and lie down. Percilla went to the emergency room that evening, and was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis. Even though treatment started immediately, she didn’t recover. She left behind her husband and three children – Kayden, 7; Korey, 5; Khalini Grace, 3 months – along with many family members and friends.
Because of Percilla’s love of bringing people together, Shaquille asked, “What can I do to honor her?” PAMAH Foundation launched in the fall of 2018. “We work to educate the community, advocate for victims of the disease, and promote prevention through vaccinations.
“PAMAH’s mission is community oriented,” said Danielle Hodge, board member and Percilla’s mother-in-law. “One of our core values includes the idea of cultivating compassion, which is to foster the growth of sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with the desire to alleviate it. This is the reason PAMAH began. As a result, we believe it is our sacred responsibility to help our neighbors in every way we can.”
The staff and volunteers at PAMAH raise awareness in the community through events such as the car show, Pork and Torque, which was held in April and featured special guest Shaquille O’Neal. This month, PAMAH is sponsoring its 30 in Thirty Challenge, asking participants to form teams to run, walk, bike or skate to raise funds. Details can be found on the events tab at www.pamahfoundation.org.
PAMAH awards three $1,000 scholarships annually to Cherokee County School District graduating seniors. Students can apply through the website before the May 26 deadline. To learn more about the disease, donate or volunteer, call 678-926-9507 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Possible Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis (source mayoclinic.org)
Sudden high fever
Severe headache that seems different from normal
Headache with nausea and vomiting
Confusion or difficulty concentrating
Sleepiness or difficult waking
Sensitivity to light
No appetite or thirst
Skin rash (sometimes, such as in meningococcal meningitis)