American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford literally took the first steps Aug. 3 on a new campaign to support the nation’s veterans, military families and their communities.
Oxford walked three miles in his hometown of Lenoir, N.C., to kick off the 100 Miles for Hope campaign which benefits The American Legion’s Veterans & Children Foundation (V&CF). He is encouraging members of The American Legion Family to accompany him on his journey to cover 100 miles by walking, running, cycling or riding a motorcycle 100 miles over the next 100 days, concluding on Veterans Day.
“We have been cooped up and self-isolating for so long that the 100 miles is a way to reintroduce exercise to Legionnaires and the country,” he said, noting the coronavirus. “In addition to what we gain from the exercise, we hope to gain some much needed donations for our Veterans & Children Foundation.”
To participate, go to the registration page. For a $30 registration fee, participants will receive a slick tech shirt (men’s, women’s and children’s sizes available), a sign to commemorate their journey and — upon completion — a certificate of accomplishment. Best of all, roughly half of the registration will go directly to the V&CF.
Oxford notes that even with Emblem Sales temporarily closed, orders for 100 Mile shirts received by Aug. 10, will be shipped between Aug. 25 and 31. Afterward there are rolling deadlines.
Oxford is doubling up his own challenge, vowing to walk 100 miles and ride his bike for another century.
“This is a great way to exercise and I do that regularly,” he said. “I’m going to be killing two birds with one stone. I’m going to be doing the physical exercise. But it also gives me an opportunity to help the Veterans & Children Foundation. I hope everyone realizes the value in that. Join me in the 100 Miles for Hope. Twenty minutes a day is not too much to ask.”
Oxford also encourages participants to share their 100-mile journeys on social media and the Legiontown website. For example, when starting out on a walk, run or ride, a participant can share a photo on social media and use the hashtag #100MilesForHope.
Upon completion, participants will be able to download and customize their certificate of accomplishment (signed by Oxford) and then go to Legiontown to share their story.
During their 100-mile journeys, participants can track their miles with a fitness tracker, pencil and paper, a digital spreadsheet or however they choose. But Oxford emphasized that regardless of how participants choose to cover the 100 miles, it’s on the honor system.
The important part, he said, is that The American Legion Family unites in this special campaign. So far, it’s off to a good start as Sons of The American Legion Commander Clint Bolt and National Auxiliary President Nicole Clapp virtually joined Oxford in launching the 100 Miles for Hope initiative.
"It's an honor to support Commander Oxford's 100 Miles for Hope campaign," Bolt said. "The coronavirus has made this year challenging for all of us. However, this is a way in which we can demonstrate The American Legion Family's unyielding support to our nation's heroes, military families and the communities in which they live. I encourage all squadrons to participate how they deem most appropriate."
Clapp also began her journey on Monday, walking three miles around the lake at Union Grove State Park, near her home of Gladbrook, Iowa.
“I’m very excited to be joining National Commander Bill and SAL National Commander Clint on the 100 Miles for Hope campaign,” she said. “Come join us for this great cause to support The American Legion Veterans and Children Foundation. This is such a great activity The American Legion Family can do together! I look forward to walking my 100 miles around the local state park near my home, which ironically has a hill to climb that is known as Legion Hill!”