Mike, loved your story and your perseverance! You earned that patch many times over, then and now.
We had a similar program in Canada, that must have been a copy of the American one. It was called "Participaction" or some thing like that. IT was also a mandatory gym class thing. I started it in grade 5 maybe? and being overweight and lazy at the time, I couldn't even get the bronze patch, but received a little "thanks for coming out" pin. It made me mad, getting a bronze patch was not that hard, almost every other kid had at least that. So the next year, I got my bronze patch. Then two years after that (grade 8), (I had started playing sports in the meantime), I managed to get the Gold patch, and was so proud. But I'll never forget the shame of the first year, realizing just how out of shape I was compared to the other kids.
"During a marathon, I run about two-thirds of the time. That's plenty." - Margaret Davis, 85 Ed Whitlock regarding his 2:54:48 marathon at age 73, "That was a good day. It was never a struggle."