Massachusetts Legionnaire creates 100 Miles for Hope relay

Massachusetts Legionnaire creates 100 Miles for Hope relay

During a recent visit to the American Legion Department of Massachusetts, National Commander Paul E. Dillard shared information about the third annual 100 Miles for Hope – the fitness and wellness challenge that benefits the Veterans and Children Foundation. Mitchell Keil listened to what Dillard had to say and became intrigued with the challenge. After researching more about 100 Miles for Hope, Keil “liked everything that it was about” and registered.

The 34-year-old Marine veteran and commander of Frank R. Stiles American Legion Post 125 in North Adams, Mass., has walked over 32 miles and raised $825 of his $1,500 goal for V&CF.

100 Miles for Hope is “something I could get behind and really take the lead on,” Keil said. “I can see people struggling (in the community) and to think that this is able to help the veterans and children across the nation made it important to me.”

Participants of 100 Miles for Hope have until Labor Day, Sept. 5, to log 100 miles and fundraise for The American Legion Veterans & Children Foundation. All proceeds from registrations and donations go directly to supporting disabled veterans and military families. (Learn more and register for the third annual challenge here.)

Keil said donations have come from 100 Miles for Hope jars he made and placed throughout the post, family and friends, promotional efforts on Post 125’s Facebook page, and from people who see him walking in the 100 Miles for Hope shirt and ask what it means. He also put a 100 Miles for Hope promotional flyer on a bulletin board at the post, along with a fundraising thermometer.

“I was just trying to do something to get everybody’s attention on it,” he said. “I log my miles while wearing the 100 Miles for Hope shirt.”  

The challenge has given Keil an opportunity to fundraise for a good cause and get active. Keil had back surgery last fall and had been “using that as an excuse not to exercise,” he said. The 100 Miles for Hope challenge gave him the push he needed to “get out there and start walking. Walking has helped my back, and I’m starting to feel way better.”

It also gave him an idea – to map what was 100 miles from the post. His Google search led him to American Legion Post 414 in Sutton, Mass. That led to a 100 Miles for Hope relay.

Post 125 members, including Keil, and family and friends will leave from the post at 4 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, and arrive to Post 414 by 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14.

“We (Post 125 members) have decided to show our area what determination can do,” said Keil, who joined Post 125 six years ago because “I could just sense the camaraderie that I didn’t know that I was missing as much as I was. I'm excited to follow this story up with our trials, tribulations and successes of our first annual 100 Miles for Hope trek through western Massachusetts.”