Dad, daughter bond in 100 Miles challenge

Dad, daughter bond in 100 Miles challenge

Every mile’s a memory.

That’s what I tell myself when my daughter Anna, 11, and I get on our bikes or lace up our running shoes for The American Legion’s second annual 100 Miles for Hope. We had a blast participating in the first challenge, and couldn’t wait to do it again this year.

Sure, it’s for a great cause, raising money for The American Legion Veterans & Children Foundation, which provides financial assistance for military families and funds training for American Legion service officers. The challenge has done a lot for our fitness, too.

What I love most, though, is that it’s time well spent with my girl. During our first 100 Miles, Anna was starting her last year of elementary school, losing teeth like crazy and rushing home to play outside. Now she’s a head taller, heading off to middle school every day and staying an extra hour for cross-country practice. For me at least, the years are going fast.

Initially, the idea of 100 miles was daunting, especially for a kid. We started by biking a mile, maybe two, every day. As we got used to riding, we’d go for longer stretches – 3 miles to get a drink at a gas station, 5 miles for ice cream, a 10-mile round trip to the city library and park. (That last one seemed long at the time, but when we did it again a couple of weeks ago, I noticed how much faster Anna rode. How much faster we both rode, actually.)

Our second 100 Miles has been a little more varied, but no less fun. We like being able to count any of our physical activities toward our goal – Anna’s basketball practices and swimming with friends, my CrossFit workouts – through the Kilter app.

That would have been more than enough to get to 100 activities, but Anna – who’s always up for a challenge – told me early on she still wants to log a total of 100 miles together on bicycle. “Just like last year,” she says. She broke her foot earlier this summer, which set us back a bit, but we’re pedaling hard to catch up.

For our family, 100 Miles has been part of an intentional shift to more physical activity, in a society that’s focused on TV and phone screens. What we’re accomplishing, and what we’re gaining in discipline and endurance, has given us confidence to set our sights on other challenges: regular running for me, school sports for Anna. We’re talking about doing a 5K together this fall, too.

Better than any video game or YouTube video, these are the experiences that will put her on the path to a healthy lifestyle. And someday, when she looks back on times with her dad, this is the stuff I hope she remembers.

To put my own spin on the old Trace Adkins song, she thought we were just riding bikes.

Matt Grills is managing editor of The American Legion Magazine. He is a member of American Legion Centennial Post 1919 in Greenwood, Ind.