Dr. Jim Simone

Dr. Jim Simone, of Kankakee, completed Source to City in New York and raised money for Child Network.

It’s an unusual but productive hobby.

Dr. Jim Simone, of Kankakee, is an ultra-marathoner who runs, bikes, walks and paddles in some of the world’s most unusual events, all to raise money for local charity.

Simone, 67, ran in the Source to City, a four-day event that goes from the source of the Hudson River in New York State to the spot where it empties into New York City Harbor. The trek started in Lake Placid, N.Y., and included a 22-mile ascent and descent of Mt. Marcy, 21 miles of kayaking, 260 miles of biking and a half marathon coming into New York City.

On Oct. 4, Simone crossed the George Washington Bridge and finished with the Statue of Liberty in sight.

He did it to raise awareness of and earn money for Child Network, a local nonprofit agency that deals with child abuse. Simone has been a member of the Child Network board for about seven years, said Kristin Jackson, the executive director of the agency.

For 17 years, Simone has participated in unusual races. In many events, he’s raised money for Child Network, Harbor House and KC-CASA, now known as the Clove Alliance. Among his efforts, Simone has run a marathon in the Sahara Desert, biked from Los Angeles to Boston and gone down the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos.

His last event, also for Child Network, was a 2016 run along Hadrian’s Wall in Britain. The Romans built it in the second century AD, traversing the width of England, from east to west, to keep out “the troublesome tribes to the North.” It still stands, serves as a tourist attraction and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

But of all the things he’s done, Simone said the first day mountain hike Friday was the toughest. Speaking at the end of that day, he said his legs were sore. Mount Marcy (Tewawe’estha, in the original Mohawk) is the highest peak in the Adirondacks. The mountain contains Tear of the Clouds Lake, the major source of the Hudson River.

Day 2 on Saturday included 120 miles on the bike. Sunday was both biking and kayaking. Monday’s conclusion was a bike ride and the half marathon.

Held down, no doubt, by COVID and by the difficulty of the task, Simone said there were only eight entrants for the Source to City.

“We all agreed,” Simone said of the eight, “that it should not be a competition. We all helped each other through it.”

Simone said his unusual racing regimen has made him friends all over the world.

“You meet great people,” he said. “I enjoy it.”

Simone, a psychologist in the field of drug addiction treatment, describes himself as semi-retired now. He does evaluations for the Kankakee County Court system and counseling and mental health services for the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department.

He trains rigorously for his events, running, biking and kayaking. As part of his regular training effort, he drives to Warner Bridge Road, bikes to Kankakee and then paddles in his kayak downriver to go get his car.

Simone said Child Network is a charity in need.

“You only know about them if something horrible has happened,” he said.

Simone said he always pays for his own fees, food, transportation and lodging. No part of the money raised ever goes toward his expenses.

Jackson is thankful for Simone’s help, describing him as an energetic member of a 14-member board. She said he always has a smile on his face and is happy to help.

“It was his idea. He’s amazing. I’m all for it,” she said.

“I can’t ever imagine what he does,” she said. “We are grateful for his spirit.”

For more information and to donate to Child Network, go to childnetwork.org.