The first 100 Miles for Hope came at the right time for William Chan.
A member of Braxton-Perkins Post, Unit and Squadron 25 in Newport News, Va., Chan completed 200.19 miles in the 2020 version of The American Legion 100 Miles for Hope. His goal for the second annual challenge is to beat that mileage. And he is well on his way. (Register now for the second 100 Miles for Hope here.)
As of May 4, Chan had completed approximately 85 miles, by walking, running and doing the elliptical in and around Naval Station Norfolk, where he works.
“The first came at the right time due to COVID-19,” said Chan, who served 23 years in the Marines, Navy and Reserves. “Both gyms (at Langley Air Force Base, where he worked at the time) closed when COVID hit. Like everybody else, we were getting more stagnant in our workouts.”
Chan admits he had put on some COVID-induced weight. He had started going on outdoor walks while following social-distancing protocols. Then he received a boost of motivation.
“The 100 Miles came into play where it gave me the chance to help out our fellow veterans and children, and at the same time got me back to being more active as a person,” he said, referring to The American Legion Veterans & Children Foundation (V&CF).
The foundation is the beneficiary of proceeds from registrations, merchandise purchases and donations in support of 100 Miles for Hope. Those funds go to support the work of accredited American Legion service officers who provide free assistance to veterans in need of help acquiring the VA benefits they earned through their service. Additionally, the V&CF provides Temporary Financial Assistance grants to military families with minor children at home who fall upon hard times.
Once he started his walking routine, Chan regained his motivation for fitness. With the gyms still shuttered, Chan literally picked up his home weights again. Around Columbus Day, gyms started to reopen, another step in Chan’s return to fitness.
A lifelong athlete, Chan was able to keep the momentum he built from the first 100 Miles challenge to the second annual event.
“I’ve always been active due to doing sports and from my 23-year military career,” said Chan, who is second vice commander and judge advocate at Post 25. “I ended up continuing to work out after the first 100 Miles for Hope ended.”
The 100 Miles for Hope does not just provide physical fitness benefits for participants and much-needed resources for the V&CF.
“Thanks to the 100 Miles for Hope, it got my mental wellbeing back to a better place due to being cooped up at home,” he said. “It came at the right time and I needed to get back out there, get going and be more productive.”