Above: Achilles Kids gathered around Dick Traum as they ring the closing bell at Nasdaq.  Photography by Kelsey Ayres/ Nasdaq , Inc.

Achilles Heel
January - February 2018
What a way to begin 2018! At 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2nd, Achilles Kids descended on Times Square and joined me as I rang the NASDAQ closing bell. This was the second time we were invited. Last year, it was the NYC Chapter (adults program). This year, it was Achilles Kids. They had a blast and loved seeing giant images of themselves on billboards around Times Square. What an honor for us all!

The NASDAQ had a record day and passed 7000 for the first time. The record breaking at NASDAQ is a metaphor for Achilles which has also broken records as we completed thirty-five years. Imagine, 11,000 Achilles Kids running, many completing a "virtual marathon" throughout the school year; over 700 marathons completed by Achilles members around the world in 2017; and 7,500 runners registering for our New York City Hope & Possibility® race this past June.

We are enriching many people's lives in three ways. Think fitness, mainstreaming and achievement.

First, we contribute to Fitness. Typically, people with disabilities are not always physically active. Achilles defies this by promoting running which improves fitness and probably extends life expectancy. We have been involved with/or initiated research concerning running and its positive impact on autism, on people with traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and overall health. We have also witnessed how our programs help instill a sense of joy, fun, social interaction and delight at witnessing improvement in the lives of many. If you run, jog, walk or wheel, you will probably live a longer, healthier, happier life. From my prospective, fitness may be more effective in improving life than any drug ever prescribed. That's quite a statement!

Second, we focus on Mainstreaming. This has been my passion from the start. The power and importance of "mainstreaming" cannot be stressed enough. Our competitions are with the general public. Mainstreaming is about inclusion. It is important in two ways. First, people with a disability increase their interaction with the able-bodied community, fitting comfortably into society, including the working world. It used to be that people with a disability were isolated, often finding it hard to become employed, etc. (In some countries this is still the case.) On the other hand, mainstreaming increases the comfort level of people without disabilities. They no longer see a person with a disability as less capable, especially when one of our athletes passes them during a race! My greatest delight is seeing our Freedom Team amputees walking around in shorts. They are proud of how they have risen above their disability. The general population, seeing our members in a race, no longer see the runner as someone you might worry about - "oh, my god, how sad." Our members are seen as Horatio Alger type heroes. They see someone who inspires. Someone who has "risen above their circumstance or condition". Bravo!

Third, we focus on Achievement. Another word I use constantly that cannot be underestimated. When Achilles members join us, most are not in shape. Each week results in improvement...They can walk around the reservoir, or run a mile without stopping! Later, cries of joy "I ran the marathon in under five hours" ... or "I finished in the top half of my age group". The beauty of achievement is magical. Each success generates two words, "what's next?" Many of our athletes have gone ahead to succeed in other areas, which is something never imagined. In many cases, it is a result of the confidence generated by achieving. Consider a soldier who lost a leg, ran the marathon, and became the first person to return to his Unit on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Consider another who became a United States Senator, and a third who as a Paralympic athlete is one of the best in the world. Think of other members who became a New York State Governor and a Michigan State Supreme Court Justice. These are examples of thousands of Achilles members, including Achilles Kids, who have been introduced to achievement.

So, as we begin 2018, Achilles, like the NASDAQ, starts at a record level and looks to the future...improving Fitness, Mainstreaming, and Achievement.

Happy New Year! My sincerest thanks to all our donors, members and volunteers and our Achilles staff around the world. We could not do what we do without each and everyone one of you.


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!


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 .


The Lakin Challenge was a great success again for end-of-year donations, being matched one-to-one up to $50,000. We hit our goal and more. Huge thanks to Robert Lakin, Neil Mellon and David Greenstein for their generosity giving us another opportunity to double donations to Achilles.


ARE YOU READY TO RUN?? Sign up now to run with Achilles as a Charity Entrant for the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon on November 4th. As a Charity Entrant, we guarantee your entry. You raise funds for Achilles. Join in the celebrations, meeting many of our athletes with disabilities, receive a specially designed "charity" t-shirt, get invited to our Annual Gala (for top fundraisers) and enjoy a pre-marathon pasta dinner .... plus, so much more!!! For more information, click here

Contact FIONA with any questions. #GoAchilles.


Thanks to devoted Achilles volunteer, Theresa Molloy, Achilles Kids were invited to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ on January 2nd, 2018. Forty kids and parents, along with several Achilles staff members including Fiona McKinney, Michael Anderson and Angie Bullaro braved the blistering cold to be a part of this exciting event. The kids had an opportunity to have their pictures taken with the NASDAQ backdrop along with pictures on the stage around the closing bell. This was a first for the kids and they were thrilled at the attention they received from the NASDAQ team! Decked out in Achilles yellow, all forty members gathered around Dick Traum as he gave a quick speech about Achilles successes in 2017 and our hopes for 2018. As the ten second count down started the kids were able to really let loose and roared along with the clock! When Dick rang the bell all of the kids exploded in cheers! Tourists gathered outside the windows and clapped along as the children continued cheering. But that wasn't the end of it. Shortly after the closing bell we were led outside to the enormous NASDAQ jumbotron and to our great surprise we saw: "NASDAQ welcomes Achilles Kids!!" More cheers! The children were elated as they saw their faces appear larger than life on Times Square. One child shouted, "we're famous!" It was a day we all will remember for years to come.
Angie, The Central Park Training Program Coordinator, also had the chance to sit down with Lyanne Alfaro at Nasdaq and talk about the Achilles kids program in more detail. The interview can be seen here.


Thanks to the Cigna Foundation, Achilles had the honor and joy of participating in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, presented by Cigna. Athletes represented Achilles in every race. From our Cigna-Achilles customer referral program, Sonya Hazel and Mark Harsanye, took part in the 5K and finished with wide smiles, as did Bindhu Panapalli in the 10K. Freedom Team member Adam Popp tackled the Dopey Challenge (all four races) and Jay Collins went Goofy (completing the half and full marathon). Cigna CEO David Cordani ran as a guide for Freedom Team member Stefan LeRoy in the half marathon for the third year in a row. Deepest thanks to the incredible crew at Shades of Green for their warmth and hospitality. Our crew would not be complete without Virginia Redmond, Roy Griffith and many of our steadfast Disney volunteers. Thanks to the wonderful Antoinette Darrow and John Hughes for making RunDisney run with efficiency and heart. Thanks to all the Cigna guides who ensured that our athletes had a truly magical Disney experience. And most of all, thanks to the Cigna Foundation; without its support none of this would be possible. 

The annual Achilles Reindeer Romp took place on December 16th in Central Park and the chilly conditions did not keep away a crew of holiday revelers. Members and guides took off from Engineer's Gate for a spirited 4 Mile fun run, complete with reindeer headgear and bells that jingled. NYC Chapter athlete Raymond Murphy ran away with the best dressed award after completing the entire loop in a penguin costume! All were treated to mini-donut munchkins and warmed their bones over cups of hot cocoa.

If you would like to run in this year's Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon on Saturday, May 19th be sure to log into your MYNRR account as soon as possible to ensure that your billing information is up to date. Registration will open on Wednesday, January 31, at 12:00 noon ET. Last year's race sold out in 26 minutes and this year will be no different. If you want to run, please be sure to be in front of your computer to register on January 31 at 12 Noon

Congratulations to Achilles Las Vegas on their first few races!!! It's been an amazing couple of months for the chapter, led by Chapter Director, John Sterling. As a brand-new Achilles chapter, they have seen a lot of love and support from the Vegas community and beyond. The chapter now has two visually impaired athletes, Shawnna Maxwell and Terri Rup, both of whom ran their first races at the Triple Dare Running Company's Resolution 5k on New Year's Eve. They are now training for fall marathons. Achilles LV also added two handcyclists, Kevin Scanlon and Craig Falkner, to the Achilles family. Edmond McDonald, a retired Navy veteran and runner from Georgia, was scheduled to run the BBSC Lake Mead Half Marathon on January 21st. The race is held on Federal land and was cancelled due to the government shutdown. But, in true Achilles style, Achilles Las Vegas created their own event and ran the race anyway! They called it The Navy Vets Lake Mead Half.  Well done, Achilles LV!! 

In addition, the chapter has 15-20 guides and countless other supporters. A special thanks to Triple Dare Running Company and BBSC Running Company for all of their support. Check out this great article in the Boulder City Review.

"It's been an awesome beginning and we look forward to many more group runs and races!" - John Sterling


If you are in the Boston area on February 11th, please join us for a fun, exciting evening to honor the amazing John Young, who is one of our most inspiring Achilles athletes. This is also a fundraiser to benefit Achilles. The night includes gourmet buffet menu "created with the endurance athlete in mind". John will share his incredible story about what led him to start endurance racing at the age of 43 and how he got involved with Achilles International. There will also be raffle/silent auction items. Zelus Beer will be on hand with their electrolyte beer. Buffet price includes a complimentary beer or glass of wine. A portion of the ticket price will be donated to Achilles.

WHEN: Sunday February 11th, 2018 @ 7 pm - 10 p.m.

LOCATION: Finz Seafood& Grill @ 76 Wharf Street, Salem MA 01970

Torie Johnson

Congratulations to Torie Johnson who is Achilles Volunteer of the Month! Torie is one of most dedicated volunteers who, despite having a hectic work schedule as a nurse practitioner, always makes time to join us for a workout or guide in races. Thank you for everything you do, Torie! We are so grateful.

To read more about Torie, please click here .

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


Achilles Nashville has named Amy Harris and Sara Solomon co-executive directors of the thriving chapter succeeding Carrie Redmon, who will remain involved on the Hope & Possibility® committee and volunteer guide. Allison Brooks succeeds Sarah Hart as secretary on the Nashville advisory board. Best wishes for continued success to all!  

Feb 11th: An evening to honor John Young + Fundraiser for Achilles
@ Finz Seafood & Grill, 76 Wharf Street, Salem MA 01970. 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. 


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