The Black Hills Chapter of American Legion Post 164 in Spearfish, S.D., involved the community during the first 100 Miles for Hope in 2020. The highlight was a 100-mile American Legion Riders journey on Patriots Day from Spearfish to the Black Hills National Cemetery.
Along the way, Riders stopped at the VA Black Hills Health Care System in Fort Meade.
“We scheduled a visit to the Fort Meade VA so that we could honor the residents and medical teams,” said Micheline Nelson, a member of the post’s Riders chapter and the Auxiliary unit. “We were able to wave and say thank you to the nurses and doctors who came out.”
After they reached the national cemetery, the Riders paused to remember the fallen. “We honored one of the Riders who is buried there,” she said. “And we also laid roses and erected the flags at the gravesites of friends and family.”
Post 164 held another event for the 100 Miles campaign in October. Micheline says that they invited church groups and other community members to participate in an hour-long walk in the city park. “We recorded the miles and as a group, we were able to accomplish the 100 miles, with a cumulative 380 miles.”
Not only that, the event raised about $750 for the Veterans & Children Foundation (V&CF), including proceeds from the registrations and T-shirt sales.
This year the 100 Miles for Hope is a little different, asking participants to complete 100 activities within a 160-day period. This is to encourage regular physical activity to promote wellness and fitness. At the same time, proceeds will once again benefit the V&CF, which provides necessary funding for accredited American Legion service officers and military families.
Supporting the V&CF is important to Fred Nelson, the department commander for South Dakota.
“That’s our mission — veterans and children,” says Fred, a member of Post 164 who is also a member of the Legion Riders and Sons of The American Legion. “We’re looking to help.”
Participants also can support the foundation in another way. There are a number of commemorative items available for purchase with all proceeds going to V&CF. Among them is a patch created specifically for American Legion Riders. (Visit the special Emblem Sales page to view the patch and other items.)
“I like it and it’s affordable,” Micheline says of the patch.
The Nelsons say the post will be active once again and is planning on involving Riders chapters and the community.
For example, Fred says they are looking at putting together a wreath-laying event at the state Capitol in Pierre. Micheline is planning a new idea to involve the community that ties in to the activity goal in this year’s 100 Miles for Hope challenge.
“I am thinking of something completely out of the box — 100 Miles of Thread,” she says. “That would be quilters, knitters and others who would have to record the time they spend creating items for the VA and homeless veterans. It would involve Auxiliary members and others who may not be able to get out of their homes but can help veterans who are in VA hospitals or homebound.”
That’s part of the beauty of this year’s 100 Miles campaign. For those who register via the Kilter app, they can track their activities. With more than 40 activities available on the app, it allows anyone to participate. For example, the quilters and knitters can choose the “volunteer” activity to count toward their 100 activities. American Legion Riders can also choose “volunteer,” “advocacy” or “other” to log their activities. Learn how to track activities and see a list of all of them on this web page.
Micheline envisions having multiple events to encourage community participation.
“We serve children and youth, our community, veterans and families, so it is important to get our mission out so they understand the mission of the Legion,” she says.