American Legion Family members join 100 Miles challenge
Army veteran Angel Faulkner participates in the 100 Miles for Hope campaign in Avon, Ind., on Monday, Aug. 10. Photo by Ben Mikesell/The American Legion

American Legion Family members join 100 Miles challenge

Terry Stanberry has acute myeloid leukemia but that isn’t stopping him from walking 100 miles in support of The American Legion’s new 100 Miles for Hope campaign.

“I saw that the national commander started the 100-day challenge,” said Stanberry, an Air Force veteran and chaplain of American Legion Post 71 in Clayton, N.C. “My wife and I are both walkers but in the last few years I’ve developed leukemia which limits how far I can walk. We were inspired to support the Veterans & Children Foundation (V&CF).”

American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford kicked off the campaign Aug. 3, announcing that he would both walk and ride his bicycle for 100 miles from then until Veterans Day — 100 days later.

In just one week, more than 1,900 participants have signed up to walk, run, cycle, ride a motorcycle, swim, do an elliptical machine or cover 100 miles in just about any way imaginable. To join in, go to Emblem Sales and register.

For the $30 registration fee, participants receive a shirt (men’s, women’s and children’s sizes available) and a sign, as well as a link to download and print a certificate of completion at the conclusion. Please refer to Emblem Sales to learn when to expect the welcome kits to be shipped. About half of the fee goes to the V&CF, after figuring in costs for production and shipping.

Stanberry and his wife, Mel, a member of Auxiliary Unit 71, are walking about a mile a day but on some days will complete two or three, he said. Their goal is to complete the 100 miles before Veterans Day.

“I think that most people can walk it,” said Stanberry, who is usually also accompanied by his two Chihuahuas on his daily walks around his neighborhood. “This campaign has encouraged us to go out. I think everyone has the ability to do this if they really try. For me, it’s just part of living.”

Supporting the foundation is one of the reasons why Angel Faulkner jumped right in.

“This is what I have been trying to do during the pandemic,” said Faulkner, second vice commander of American Legion Post 331 in Brownsburg, Ind. “It would be a good opportunity, and the weather has been beautiful. Of course, the money goes to a good cause. And it helps get people out and about and get some fresh air.”

So far Faulkner, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has logged more than 35 miles. One night last week, she combined her walking with volunteering at an event at her post, logging seven miles. She sees the benefits as a way to enhance both physical fitness and mental well-being.

“It feels good to get the knees working,” she said. “I’m not a gym person. I like getting the fresh air. It’s a great way to get the blood going. Everyone should do at least 10,000 steps a day anyways. It’s good for the heart, helps keep the weight down and helps fight diabetes. And if people are feeling down about the news, this is good for mental wellness. Get out and go for a walk. It’s helpful in a lot of ways.”

Hank Mangels can certainly attest to that.

In February, Mangels was diagnosed with liver cancer. He immediately began riding his bike regularly so that he could improve his cardio health and be eligible for a transplant. “When I saw the 100 Miles for Hope challenge, I figured that this fits right in.”

Mangels understands the significance of being in good shape when faced with a critical illness. “If anything happens to you health wise, facing any type of emergency procedure or major surgery, you have to have a strong heart and you need to do something to keep yourself active and healthy and prepared for it.”

A member of American Legion Post 115 in Flagler County, Fla., Mangels believes that the fitness he has gained has not only improved his chances to get a transplant but has other health benefits. For example, his blood pressure has decreased.

“Back in February, sometimes I would feel short of breath, or out of breath, just watching TV,” he recalled. “I would have to take deep breaths. Now, I don’t have to do that anymore. Overall, I feel better and have more energy. My wife says I look younger.”

Mangels, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, rides his bike for about 45 minutes, six days a week. He expects to break the 100-mile goal in a few weeks, so he has set a goal of 400 miles by Veterans Day.

“The guidelines of the program make it pretty easy. One hundred miles in 100 days is almost no challenge at all. You do a little bit each day, and 100 miles is nothing and you will have done so much good for yourself.”