The American Legion’s 100 Miles for Hope challenge came along at just the right time for Air Force veteran Wes Singletary.
“I was walking a lot with the new puppy I got in July,” Singletary said of his five-month-old dog, Copper, a Catahoula leopard hound. “They need a lot of exercise. I thought this would be a good opportunity to get him out there and exercise by walking with him every day.”
So Singletary, a member of American Legion Post 13 in Tallahassee, Fla., was among the early registrants for the 100 Miles for Hope campaign that challenged participants to walk, run, cycle or cover the distance any way they choose in the 100 days leading up to Veterans Day. Proceeds benefit The American Legion’s Veterans & Children Foundation. There is still time to sign up and help drive more donations toward assisting veterans and military families in need by registering here.
However, about 20 miles into their quest, Singletary came down with COVID. He caught it from his wife, who contracted it at work even though “she did everything she could to keep that place COVID-proof.”
While the coronavirus hit his wife like a bad cold, it was a different story for him. Singletary, who has asthma, recalled his temperature hitting 102 degrees the first day. He quarantined at home for about 10 days. But when his oxygen levels dipped into the 70s, he finally went to the hospital.
“That COVID, it really knocked me down,” said Singletary, who spent two weeks in the hospital. “When I presented, I had COVID, pneumonia and myocardial edema, which is fluid on the heart. I even had a urinary tract infection.”
After being discharged, Singletary was only able to go about a half mile as he rebuilt his strength. Now, he’s up to three to four miles daily. His doctor has credited his regular walking for his improvement.
Even though Singletary is still coughing frequently, recent X-rays have shown “incremental improvement,” according to his doctor. “It’s going to be a long, slow haul.”
Singletary and Copper have now covered more than 120 miles total.
“I need to keep going and build my lungs back up. COVID really took a toll on them,” he said. “Aside from the medicine I am taking, the 100 Miles for Hope has helped me really get it going. I’m walking four miles pretty easily right now. I couldn’t get out of it if I wanted to. This Catahoula needs exercise. If he doesn’t get out, he’s going to eat my house.”
Singletary is thankful for the medical team’s expertise, Copper’s companionship and The American Legion’s support of veterans and children.
“I am blessed to be able to walk,” he concluded. “This COVID is not a joke. If you are blessed, you survive it. It kicked the hell out of me. I hadn’t been in the hospital since I got my tonsils out in third grade. Those people saved my life. I am truly blessed to be able to get out into the sunshine, walk my dog and build my health back up while at the same time helping a worthy cause through The American Legion.”