For nine days, Chula Vista Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 2111 member Steve Hamilton sat, slept and ate inside a makeshift jail in the parking lot at the corner of Third Avenue and I Street.
A cot, portable toilet, radio and other miscellaneous items were his comfort as he waited patiently for donations to come in.
“I’m staying here until we raise $5,000,” Hamilton said last week.
Hamilton, 57, volunteered to have himself locked inside the mock jail to fundraise for the Chula Vista Veteran’s Home annual Walk for Heroes event on Nov. 3.
He’s this year’s chairman of the 11th annual 5K fun walk, sponsored by Post 2111.
He was released Tuesday morning just before noon after a VFW member and retired Navy Seal wrote the final check for $731 to reach their goal.
“I thought I was gonna be in there a little longer but I got a lot of support,” Hamilton said. “Anybody that still wants to donate should still donate.”
Any extra money will go toward other Veterans Home events. This year the Chula Vista Veterans Home Support Foundation has taken on a project to provide for veterans suffering from early dementia.
Hamilton co-founded the veteran’s walk in 2002, which begins at the Veterans Home located at 700 E. Naples Court and ends at the VFW Post 2111, 299 I St.
The home is a 400-bed long-term care facility that provides options for home independent living, licensed residential and skilled nursing care for honorably discharged California veterans 62 years old and up, or those who are disabled.
Nearly $5,000 was raised last year, with a total of more than $61,000 since the event’s inception.
“During the day there’s always people here,” Hamilton said last week. “It’s not bad. I don’t get much exercise though.”
VFW Post 2111 member “Fat Jack” Woolsey gave $20 toward the cause.
Woolsey, 71, is retired Navy.
“It’s important — what he’s doing to support the vet’s home,” Woolsey said.
Hamilton said they did what they could to get the word out, contacting several news stations, posting the fundraiser on Facebook and passing out flyers.
While locked up, Hamilton bathed with rags, wet wipes and water.
“If it gets too bad they’re gonna set me outside and hose me down,” he said laughing.
A shirtless man wearing board shorts walked up to Steve last week.
“What the hell are you doing in that cage man? Do you need me to break you out?” he joked.
After Hamilton explained why he was in there, the man gave him a dollar.
“Every little bit helps,” Hamilton said.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars hosts several fundraisers each year for different events, all of which VFW member Ed Hamilton said are for the community.
“We’ve worked with the fire and police departments and schools,” Ed said. “What we try to do is give back to the community.”