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If his super-human grip is any indication, Liam Hodge is going to be just fine.
That was not always the case, however, when the son of Ben and Selena Hodge was airlifted to the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson in the early hours on Thursday, April 19, 2012, barely a day after he was born.
"Wednesday was the best day of our lives," Selena Hodge said. "Thursday was the worst."
Selena Hodge said her son suffers from 22q deletion syndrome, a condition characterized by a deletion of part of the twenty-second chromosome.
Ben Hodge, Liam's father, said his son's condition resulted in two heart defects, including a hole between his two ventricles.
"The first day there, the doctors were figuring everything out, so it was a lot of bad news all at once," Ben Hodge said. "He'll have open-heart surgery when he's about five or six months."
Along with the heart defects, Liam Hodge is at risk for a myriad of complications, something Ben Hodge said he and his wife will have to watch throughout Liam's life.
"There's a chance he could develop learning disabilities and other problems, but we just don't know because nothing is set in stone," Ben Hodge said. "There'a a lot of stuff we have to keep our eyes open for."
The bad news the Hodges received, however, was trampled by the love and support shown by their families and friends.
"It started the first day," Selena Hodge said. "You sometimes don't realize how loved you are. And for Liam, people hadn't even met him and there was already so much love for him."
Since returning home to Starkville from Jackson, that love and support continued to grow. Through the work of family and friends, including Georgia Love Graham, "A Night for Liam" will be held Friday, June 1 at Dave's Dark Horse Tavern from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., with another event taking place at Rick's Cafe later in the summer.
The Tavern will host a line-up of bands featuring Pel + AA, Bill Cooke, Hardluck Chuck, John Brocato, Flathead Ford and Young Agent Jones. One hundred percent of the money collected at the door will be given to the Hodges, including ten percent of drink sales and one dollar from every Pabst Blue Ribbon sold.
The money raised will help the Hodges with current and future medical expenses, including travel and lodging for repeat trips to Jackson.
"Without these benefits, I don't know how we'd be able to do all of it," Ben Hodge said.
Selena Hodge said the support has meant the world to her family during this difficult time.
"It's overwhelming," Selena Hodge said. "We're so thankful to Georgia for organizing these benefits, and to Dave Hood and Rick Welch for hosting them."
Ben Hodge said he is looking forward to the event Friday, which will see the new father reunite with his band Young Agent Jones.
"It's always a blast playing with those guys," Ben Hodge said. "And it'll be nice to have Liam out earlier in the night."
Selena Hodge said she is looking forward to a night out and introducing her son to people for the first time.
"It'll be nice to get out of the house," she said. "I want people to meet Liam and just understand that he is okay."
Both parents said their son showed an early affinity toward music.
"When I was pregnant, he seemed to like folk music a lot," Selena Hodge said. "He didn't seem to kick as much though when Ben's band played."
Ben Hodge disagreed.
"I like to think he was just completely entranced by it," he said.
The couple said they have been grateful for the support they have received from family, friends and hospital staff, but mostly they are grateful for each other.
"We've learned so much about ourselves," Selena Hodge said. "It has brought us so much closer handling this together."
Above all, the couple said they are ready to face whatever comes their way, and that their son is not giving up any time soon.
"He's very strong," Selena Hodge said. "He's a fighter."