2022 Champions

Phil Jones

On September 8, 2022, at age 67, Phil Jones completed his first thru-hike of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail, ending at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Five months and one week earlier, he was in Georgia, at Springer Mountain, setting off alone with a 32-pound pack on his back.

Ten years ago he wasn’t so sure he would make it. He had suffered a stroke. He wants people to know that as much as a stroke might set you back, it doesn’t mean you need to give up on your dreams – and he’d been dreaming about this hike for 50 years.

Jones has kept himself in good physical condition since high school. He’s a runner and has competed regularly in 5 and 10K races. He even coached a high school cross-country team. After the stroke, he got back to running, got back in shape and got ready for the longest backpacking trip of his life.

“You always had to stay positive,” he says. “If you let the environment bring you down, you weren’t going to make it.” Completing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, he says, “takes a lot of toughness – not just physical toughness but mental toughness.” And that mental toughness? It’s built on a lifetime of experience.

That’s Excellence through Experience. And that’s why Peoples Health and the New Orleans Saints are proud to honor Phil Jones as a Peoples Health Champion.

“You always had to stay positive. If you let the environment bring you down, you weren’t going to make it.”

Phil Jones

If you think about it, you probably know a Champion.

A Champion may even be you. Nominate yourself or someone you know—like a relative, co-worker or neighbor—as a Peoples Health Champion.