Above: Memorable moments from the 2018 Miami Marathon, the latest Achilles Marathon Tour event.

Achilles Heel
March - April 2018
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

The Marathon Tour

One of our greatest programs is  The Marathon Tour . It's a series of Marathons throughout the United States starting in January of each year, continuing into the Fall and culminating with the TCS New York City Marathon in November. Most of the athletes participating in the Marathon Tour are members of our  Achilles Freedom Team of wounded, ill and injured veterans.

The season begins in January in Orlando with the Walt Disney World Marathon Week presented by Cigna. It includes a marathon and some shorter races. We usually have a large group of Freedom Team members as well as chapter members who focus mostly on the half marathon. Some do crazy stuff like the "Dopey Challenge" which is the half-marathon, the full, plus a 5K and a 10K back-to-back over four days. That's 48.6 miles in total....and a lot of bling! An amazing achievement! The weekend starts with a beautiful fun-filled early morning gallop through the Disney Park. People typically do not race it for time. Many stop along the route to get selfies with characters like Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. One year, I had a bit of a reality check. I accompanied a veteran who completed the half. His parents greeted him at the finish with tears of joy. They asked if I was helpful. His reply, "Yes, he was great.  He was like a grandfather to me".  Never ever thought of myself as being that old. 

The Miami Marathon, also in January, includes our second largest team. Seventy-one Achilles members begin the race just before six in the morning. Participants include a big group from our South American chapters and many Freedom Team members located in Florida. This past event, I spent some time with our flourishing chapter from Venezuela. What a fantastic team of folks! We provide them with gifts that are necessities in their country and small enough to be placed in suitcases. These are items that can be shared by the team at home. Medications, crutch tips, and food are most desired. This year, we also donated two new wheelchairs, thanks to the generosity of an Achilles athlete.

The LA Marathon is on March 18th. Achilles has the honor of taking responsibility for all handcyclists, not just Achilles members. On April 16th, we compete in Boston. This year, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) has doubled the handcycle division from 30 slots in 2017 to 60 slots this year. We have worked hard over the years to increase the number of participants and to receive more recognition for handcycle competitors and athletes with different abilities. This year, we will field a team of approximately forty-eight Achilles athletes. Boston is all about qualifying times in other races. I was accepted for the first time in the last few years with a 2:14 in Miami!  I love the rolling hills. I tend to accelerate on the down hills to climb the following up hills. My best Boston PR was an impressive 1:47 time at the age of 70. I had the luck of staying behind a wounded Army Ranger who cut the wind. When I thanked him, his response was, "It was an honor, Sir".  Last year, one of our world class handcycle athletes, Tom Davis, finished in under an hour!  Imagine, twenty-seven miles per hour! Very impressive!

The summer slows down after San Diego. Then, there is Chicago, Detroit and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, all of which begin the Fall season. My favorite is Detroit, sponsored, of course, by General Motors. It's out to Canada over the bridge and returning through the tunnel. It's interesting to note that all participants must present a passport to register for this race. One race; two countries. Incredible! The hospitality we receive from General Motors is unmatched!
 
The TCS New York City Marathon is by far the largest race. We enter approximately three hundred Achilles members from over twenty-five countries. Someone watching, typically sees an Achilles member pass them by every minute over a five-hour period. We are greeted with huge cheers and applause. Everyone in NYC knows and loves Achilles.  Very special.

What a great way to enjoy the year! Go Achilles!

DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT
OUR  ACHILLES E-STORE!

In conjunction with our premium apparel partner Champion System, a worldwide leader in custom technical apparel, new pieces and Achilles classics are now available for purchase here .

AMAZON SMILE!

Don't forget, if you shop at Amazon please shop at https://smile.amazon.com. When you shop here, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. Be sure to select Achilles! This can generate a lot of money if we can make it a simple habit for 10,000 people on our contacts + thousands of others in our personal social media contacts. Thank you!

ACHILLES NAVIGATOR 4 STAR RATING! 

Yes! We are delighted to share that Achilles has been rated 4 of 4 stars by   Charity Navigator!

RUN THE 2018 TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON WITH ACHILLES! 

Didn't make the cut for the drawing? Don't worry!! We have a bib for you.  Make this the best year ever and run the greatest marathon in the world while raising funds for Athletes with Disabilities. As an Achilles Charity Entrant, we guarantee your bib . It's a win-win!


WE SOLD OUT FAST LAST YEAR ....be sure to contact us soon to guarantee your bib! #GoAchilles!  

HOPE & POSSIBILITY® RACES
CELEBRATE THE ACHILLES SPIRIT! 

NYC HOPE & POSSIBILITY®

Join our celebrity ambassador, Meghan McCain, co-host of The View, and other well-known VIPS on June 24th at 8:45am in Central Park  for our 16th Annual Hope and Possibility® 4-Miler. This inspiring event brings together athletes with disabilities and able-bodied athletes in a celebration of running, walking, and wheeling. Cash prizes, t-shirts, finisher medals, raffles, live music, and more. 

There will also be a Free Achilles Kids Dash for children ages 2-9 at 10:30am.  
 
Don't wait to sign up. Do it today! This race sells out FAST!!! And remember, it's an easy 9 + 1 qualifier for the NYC Marathon.

ACHILLES PITTSBURGH HOPE & POSSIBILITY®
Achilles Pittsburgh Hope & Possibility® event is on April 7th. The 2018 race marks Pittsburgh's 5th Anniversary and all participants will receive a commemorative pint glass.

The H&P 9.3 Challenge is back and all finishers of the Challenge get a custom designed finisher's medal. Happy Anniversary Achilles Pittsburgh!!!


NYRR CLUB NIGHT & AWARDS DINNER 

The 39th Annual New York Road Runners Club Night Awards Dinner took place on February 1st at ESpace on Manhattan's West Side and the remarkable spirit of Achilles was on display. First up was the presentation of the Joe Kleinerman Award, presented in recognition of outstanding and inspiring community service. When the winner was announced the crowd of nearly 500 revelers went wild as Achilles International official photographer, Larry Sillen was called to the podium. A staple in the NYC running community, Larry is beloved across all five boroughs for his endless enthusiasm and dedication in providing outstanding photos of runners at the hundreds of events he shoots. Week in and week out, Larry braves the elements and allows his photos to be used for free for non-commercial use. A well-deserved honor for a long time Achilles supporter!

Later that evening was the presentation of the Achilles Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards, presented to two athletes with disabilities whose dedication to perseverance, enthusiasm and athletic success inspire others to pursue their goals. With an unmatched love of running and refusing to let blindness be a barrier, Jenny Hwang was honored with the "Freddie" Award as Female Athlete of the Year (named after Fred Lebow, the former NYRR President and the creator of the five borough New York City Marathon). In 2017, Jenny (or the "Daredevil" as she's known to her friends and Achilles guides) inspired others crossing the finish line at a number of races including the TCS New York City Marathon

After Jenny was congratulated by Michael Capiraso (NYRR President and CEO) and Peter Ciaccia (NYRR President of Events, and Race Director, TCS New York City Marathon), the Male Athlete of the Year Award (another "Freddie" award) was given to Achilles athlete John Pierre. Years after surviving a near-fatal assault that left him with a traumatic brain injury, John Pierre found that running helped him to overcome anxiety and allowed him to become less reliant on medication for survival. While finishing his first 5k with a smile on his face, a runner cheered him on and referred to him as a 'running machine'. That moment changed John's life forever and he took on the identity of the "Ultimate Running Machine" and became superhero to the NYC running community. Draped in a bright red cape and with the help of his loyal guides, John crossed the finish line of a number of races in 2017 including the TCS New York City Marathon and the NYRR 60K. Congrats to our outstanding Achilles athletes!

Club Night photos courtesy of Zoe Heineman and Rebecca Lindenbaum

ACHILLES VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH
Teresa Leja

Congratulations to Volunteer of the Month, Teresa LejaTeresa joined Achilles in 2015 and has already completed marathons, half-marathons and other races with Achilles while finding joy, laughter and gathering up some great stories running and walking with our members.  Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do, Teresa. 
 
" Participating with Achilles is by far one of the most inspiring, touching, life-changing, grounding, and thoroughly beautiful experiences.  I keep on coming back because it fills me with joy." -  Teresa Leja.

To read more about Teresa, please click here .

To nominate someone as Volunteer of the Month, please email Fiona.

PHILLY ACHILLES
NEW ORLEANS DESTINATION RACE 
 
Winter Storm Riley couldn't stop Philly Achilles from getting to New Orleans for the Rock 'n' Roll Races on March 4th. In fact, it only demonstrated the chapter's determination. After a long day of travel - 21 hours for some! -- the team made it to NOLA just in time for hurricanes and beignets. While some of the latecomers missed the team dinner, they were greeted by the rest of the group with pizza and  race packets and hardly missed a moment of fun! After a pre-race prep (a night out on Bourbon Street or listening to live music outdoors), everyone woke up ready to run in the New Orleans sun. The three 10k teams kicked it off, rockin' and rollin' out of Jackson Square. Following shortly after were the four half-marathon teams and their respective guides. The crowds and bands, along with chapter cheerleaders, kept everyone going along the way. The course, although uneven, was lined with leftover Mardi Gras beads, motivation for the celebration beyond the finish line. All athletes crossed the finish line proudly, and maybe even shining a little brighter than usual, as Philly Achilles seemed to take the spotlight during the weekend. The New Orleans Advocate newspaper highlighted Team Matt and multiple people cheered and encouraged the athletes along the way. The chapter even received a post-race email noting how the group (specifically Team Kinzey ), inspired other runners. And isn't that why we all run anyway? To inspire ourselves and others.
 
"The races may have been challenging, but time spent with each other, as always, was easy, down in The  Big Easy." - Melissa Wilcox, President, Philly Achilles

Top Left, L-R: Amy, Annie, Laurie, Joanna, Melissa, Ced, Tyrell, Jonathan, Anthony, Fred, Matt, Joe. Top Right, L-R: Bob, Anita, Holly, Meg, Cait, Jon, Michele, Mark, Ced, Faye, Eric, Patricia, Jae, Amy, Tom, Jonathan, Anthony, Melissa, Joanna, Matt, Tyrell, Kinzey, Joe, Chris

ACHILLES LAS VEGAS
 
The last couple of months have seen continued growth for Achilles Las Vegas. Two of their newest athletes, Ja'Nesha Murphy and Shaetonna Jackson, ran their first races! Both competed in Triple Dare Running Company's Valentine's Day themed race, Single Track Mind. A special thanks to Triple Dare for their continued support and for sponsoring Achilles athletes and guides in the race. Achilles Las Vegas members also ran the Vegas Cares About Rare 5k (a charity benefitting families of children with rare diseases). Their newest athlete, Patrick Olsen, joined in for the 1-mile walk. Eight-year-old, Marley Rupp, and her mom, Terri, ran the 5k. Congrats on your first race Marley!   

ACHILLES NASHVILLE 
 
Twelve Achilles Nashville athletes, 18 guides, and two volunteers participated in the 15th Annual Hot Chocolate 5k/15k last month. It was anything but hot with temps in the low 40's and pouring rain, but that didn't dampen anyone's spirits as the Achilles Nashville tent became a favored spot to seek refuge from the storms by many runners, providing us with the opportunity to share all things Achilles!

Above: Achilles Nashville & the 15th Annual Hot Chocolate 5K/15K on Feb 17

REGISTRATION FOR 2019 HOUSTON MARATHON & HALF-MARATHON 

Please note....registration for the 2019 Houston Marathon and Half Marathon has opened. The races will be January 20th, 2019 and includes wheelchair, handcycle, visually-impaired, mobility-impaired and wheelchair duo divisions.  If you have any questions about the race or are interested in participating through Achilles, please email Houston Chapter leader Bernie Tretta.  

10th ANNUAL
ReelABILITIES FILM FESTIVAL

Presented by the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, the 10th annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York promotes awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. From March 8th-14th you can see award winning films in various locations throughout the NY metropolitan area.  
ANOTHER GREAT FILM TO CONSIDER 

Summer in the Forest - A life of devotion, a world of difference - is a documentary film that explores the life and work of author and philosopher Jean Vanier. It traces Vanier's activism and faith from wartime to present day and reveals the universal need for love, community and companionship. The film opens March 23rd 2018 at the Village East Cinema in New York - then nationwide! Filmmakers are looking for partners to help promote the film. If you are interested in getting involved, please email Trish or call 914.741.1818. 


CHAPTER HAPPENINGS &
UPCOMING EVENTS

ACHILLES ATLANTA
Achilles Atlanta is the most recent U.S. chapter. Starting on February 24th, 2018, the chapter meets twice weekly in Riverside Park.  For more information, please contact Ali Mencher, President, at alimencher16@gmail.com. Congratulations, Achilles Atlanta. We cannot wait to hear more!

ACHILLES GREENVILLE, SC
Hannah Anderson, who is from Nashville, upon graduating from Vanderbilt, has brought Achilles to her hometown of Greenville, SC. Well done, Hannah!!

ACHILLES NASHVILLE
Road Runners Club of America announced its picks for Road Runners of the Year 2017 and Achilles Nashville chapter athlete Tony Grossi is among the honored recipients alongside the following: Galen Rupp, Open Male; Shalane Flanagan, Open Female; Abdi Abdirahman, Male Master; and Kathrine Switzer, Female Master. Be sure to congratulate Tony if you see him on the Boston Marathon course with his amazing guide Olaf Wasternack.

In an effort to reach out and give back to the community, Achilles Nashville is hosting an 8-week mini spring training session with a non-profit Christian group called Friends Life. The group's mission is to create an opportunity for teenagers and adults with disabilities to develop socially, grow personally, and enjoy community as they experience life together. Seems like a perfect partnership.


DATES
 
May 19th: The Popular Brooklyn Half

June 24th : Achilles NYC 16th Annual Hope & Possibility® 4-Miler in Central Park. Be sure to register EARLY!!! This sells out fast and is a NYC Marathon qualifier.


 

Photo credits: many of our photos are courtesy of the great, talented, always helpful and very dedicated, Larry Sillen. Thank you, Larry!