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Mystery Man Joe Pelley by Suzanne Whelan

By Suzanne Whelan

Have you seen this man?

Joe Pelley
Joe Pelley on one of his morning walks.

Odds are that most of you answer yes!

Meet Joe Pelley, aka “The MOC”. Joe was dubbed “The MOC” by his many friends because he is a Man of Character. However, he jokingly refers to himself as a “Mean Old Codger.”

This humble 79 year old Ponte Vedra resident has been a welcome sight as he walks through all the beaches area neighborhoods each and every morning and has done for the last seven years.

Joe began walking in March of 2008 and has since walked 17,226 miles (the equivalent of walking from New York to San Francisco SIX times!) and lost 140 lbs. He has been spotted walking as far north as Atlantic Blvd, as far south as Micklers Landing and even over the bridges on San Pablo Rd. Those legs have some miles on them!

Prior to walking, Joe covered some distance on his road bike. Amazingly, he has biked over 157,000 miles! This includes riding across country from LA to Boston (46 days), from Ponte Vedra to Key West numerous times and the 28 times he participated in the MS 150. He proudly informed me that, over the last 24 years, his team for the MS 150 has raised over $1,000,000!  In addition to impressive feats of endurance, Joe has carried the torch for the Olympic Games, and achieved great depths with SCUBA diving, over 200 dives with one to 195 ft!!

Clearly this is an amazing man who has accomplished extraordinary things. For him, though, life is about the journey and not the destination. He emphasizes that he never set out to walk or bike this far or dive this deep, IT JUST HAPPENED! The MOC is very quick to defer recognition of his achievements and instead focus on counting his blessings and giving kudos to all of his many friends for all of their support.

It seems to me that he has discovered the secret to enjoying life by focusing on being fully present in each moment, living healthfully, keeping busy and having a positive attitude. I hope that each of us, as we enter this New Year, are inspired to realize these characteristics and incorporate them into our own lives.

Joe Pelley ready to run

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0 Responses to “Mystery Man Joe Pelley by Suzanne Whelan”

  • Mimi Hanna
    Written on

    Amazing…we live in Ponte Vedra Beach in the winter…have not
    seen him but will look for him!

  • Rania Hilton
    Written on

    I love this! I have been watching him walk the neighborhood for many years and told my husband just the other day that he gets slimmer and slimmer each year. Thanks for sharing his story.

  • Molly
    Written on

    we were running one morning at 7am and ran into him – he was on mile 8 of 14 that day. he is a true inspiration.

  • Angie Smith
    Written on

    Love reading this story, once he told me his goal was 10 miles a day.

  • Mark Reasoner
    Written on

    Joe is both definitions of “MOC” and much more. His drive and commitment to the MS 150 and Team Cody’s Challenge built that team into one of the largest friends and family MS teams in the nation. Today it is still one of the largest in North Florida, having spun off several other teams, and still carried the commitment into another generation.

    When I moved to the beaches from Indiana, and was looking for a team to get involved with, Joe and his cohorts made me welcome and have continued to do so.

    On any given day, Joe won’t walk more than a mile without being greeted by a team mate or friend as he walks along. I know because many times it’s me and my riding companions.

    To me, the “MOC” designation can also mean “Magnificent Old Coot” or a “Most Original Character.”

    But let us know make this sound like a eulogy. I’m quite sure Old Joe will be around for many years to come. At least that’s what he says, he’s one of those folks who intends to live forever, because he just has to see how all this turns out.

    Walk and ride on.

    • Anonymous
      Written on

      Mark you almost had me in tears. Instead I toasted you with a shot of Jack Daniels. Joe

  • Bruce Bowman
    Written on

    There’s nothing better than the “MOC” breaks into jubilant song while riding 30-40 miles on a
    Saturday morning with Cody’s team. Walk on big guy!


  • Dwayne
    Written on

    Joe is a inspiration to so many people, a proud American, a special mentor and friend. I am fortunate to be part of the “Cody’s Challenge” Team. We support and encourage each other to strive to be better daily.
    This article is awesome, Joe Pelley deserves celebration for his daily accomplishments.

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