Above: Scenes from the fifteenth Hope & Possibility®

Achilles Heel
July - August 2017
On June 25th we held our fifteenth Hope & Possibility® (H&P) event. What a day! With over 6,000 people participating, it was our biggest race to date. We couldn't have asked for a better day: a comfortable start in the high 70s,  the morning began with a great warm-up led by Rebecca Alexander, John Young and Mary Koutrakos. Nicoletta Nerangis, Director of Achilles Brooklyn and volunteer, brought us to tears with her incredible rendition of the National Anthem and PIX11 weatherman, Mr. G, assured us of the continued great weather for the duration of the race. This was followed by some emotional and inspiring words by Trisha Meili and Jon Stewart as both welcomed our runners and reminded everyone that all things are possible. And finally, more inspiring words by NYRR Co-Directors Peter Ciaccia and Michael Capiraso....and we were off.
Today, we celebrate our abilities - what we can do - and are more open to conversations about challenges. To help keep the dialogue going, Achilles Freedom Team and war veteran Sgt. Earl Granville, who lost his leg to a landmine during his third term in Afghanistan, carried a 40 lb. cinder block on his shoulder. Affectionately called "Cindy", it symbolizes "the heavy burdens we carry and our challenges to ask for help", reminding us of the work we still have to do.
Trisha Meili is the inspiration for our Hope & Possibility® races. The day before our 15th H&P, Trisha told her story to a group of avid listeners. The message was that where there is hope, possibility emerges. Trisha attributed her success to support from others, like Achilles, that gave her hope to meet goals and achieve new ones. She told us it's the love and support we feel from each other that motivates and inspires us to do more than we ever thought possible. That, Trisha enthusiastically said, is the spirit of H&P!
The race has grown from H&P in New York City, which began in 2003, to events around the world. Nationally, we have H&P events in Connecticut, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. Athletes include teams with disabilities not always visible: Traumatic Brain Injuries, drug abuse issues and diabetes to name a few. Internationally, there are races in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, as well as Germany, Russia, New Zealand and even Mongolia. Imagine 3,300 runners including over 110 with disabilities running in Ulaanbaatar. In every race, a theme of mainstreaming is apparent. It is increasing the ease with which able-bodied and disabled people integrate. We are having fun and an impact on society.
For the third consecutive year, we celebrated with a wonderful fundraising brunch at Dorrian's Red Hand on the Upper East Side. It has become another highlight. Big thanks to Mary Koutrakos, Achilles friend and board member, for organizing the brunch. This special event would not have been the success it was without the help of some equally great people: Mike Russo, Manager/Bartender, John Bondurant, Manager, the Dorrian Family and the wonderful waitress Cody who arrived from Ireland just three weeks earlier.
We can all do so much more than we realize with the support of others. Achilles success is only possible with everyone's involvement. Thanks to you all for helping to make this a terrific day! Here is a wonderful short video with some special highlights, courtesy of Salmini Sportfilm.

Go Achilles!


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 .


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 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. 


A member of the Cigna Achilles Customer Referral ProgramMichael O'Leary, traveled from Chicago to join us for Hope & Possibility®. This very special Cigna customer brought spirit and heart to the race and it was our honor to host Michael and his wife, Penny. He truly embodied the spirit of Hope & Possibility and his hard work and dedication in preparing for the race inspired us. Deepest thanks to Michael, his family and especially to his guides, Cassandra Cox and Anna Erickson. They all crossed the finish line, making this year's race a memorable experience.


The Achilles Freedom Team was out in full force for the 15th Annual Hope and Possibility® weekend. We hosted 28 wounded, ill and injured servicemen and women and their caregivers; 16 current in-patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda and 12 Freedom Team alumni. The New Jersey State Police, New York Police Department's Highway 1 Unit and fellow U.S. veteran motorcycle riders escorted in the team from New Jersey. The dedicated members and staff from the Union League Club in Manhattan welcomed all. Between an epic speedboat ride on the Hudson (everyone, ride The Beast this summer!) and a profoundly moving visit to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial Park, the team enjoyed NYC hospitality throughout the weekend. We also heard from honorable guest speaker and long-time Freedom Team member, Sgt. Earl Granville at our pre-race celebration and were joined on the racecourse by the one and only Jon Stewart! We are grateful for their friendship and look forward to many races together in the future. Our immense thanks to Achilles board member and Union League Club member, Sal Lifrieri for rallying our ULC family and hosting the Freedom Team so beautifully all weekend long. Thank you to our loyal sponsors from the GM Military Discount, Cigna, Yankee Bus, the staff from Walter Reed and our incredible volunteers, athletes and caregivers for making this Hope & Possibility® weekend so powerful and inspiring!

A great big thank you to the FBI New York Citizens Academy Alumni Association for being with us year after year at our NYC Hope & Possibility ® event. You guys are the best! Photos courtesy of Victor Mirontschuk.

We are delighted to announce, we have some EXTRA Guaranteed Entry bibs for the 2017 NYC Marathon. Our first lot of bibs sold out fast...and now, we have FIVE....FOUR.... THREE ... of these "extra" bibs remaining!
Do something amazing. Guaranteed.

2017 was another banner year for our Achilles Kids school program. Our program continues to grow and we now have chapters in 16 states! But most importantly, the number of our kids who complete the 26.2 mile "virtual" marathon continues to grow!
Since 2008, the kids who complete the 26.2 mile virtual marathon over the course of the school year have earned a pair of running shoes. More than 30,000 pairs in all! But as our program has grown, the cost of the sneakers has grown as well. This year, we finally reached the point where the cost - over $250,000 - outstripped our ability to raise sufficient funding for them. For the first time it looked like we would not be able to provide the sneakers to the thousands of Achilles Kids who completed the marathon this year. 
Then just in the nick of time - the wonderful, caring, committed and dedicated folks at the Adidas Social Purpose Program stepped in and saved the day! Thanks to their generosity, we were able to provide AWESOME Adidas sneakers to over 6,500 Achilles Kids marathoners! The kids EARNED the sneakers by their own sweat, hard work, determination and perseverance. The sneakers are a huge motivator for the kids to continue to strive to reach that 26.2 mile goal, despite numerous hurdles which they have to face every day. With their eye on these precious sneakers, the kids continue to work towards their goal and overcome struggles that would be too much for many adults to bear. But in a very real way, the sneakers are also a portal to another world - a world where hard work is met with reward - where perseverance and sacrifice pay off; where, how hard you work and how hard you fight are more important than your test scores, language ability and social skills; where doing 26.2 miles earns you the same sneakers as some of the most famous and accomplished athletes in the world.
To say the children are proud of these sneakers is a huge understatement. Oftentimes, when Karen Lewis, Director of Achilles Kids, visits schools - after many months have passed since sneaker ceremonies - the children will run up to her with pride and say: "Miss Karen, Miss Karen, they still look brand new!" Something most of us take for granted means the world to so many of our kids.
To say we are beyond grateful is also a huge understatement. There are no words to express the joy and elation the children feel when they see such a coveted sneaker brand recognizing THEIR efforts. To know that important people doing important work are aware of THEIR struggle and THEIR victories. For this and so much more, everyone at Adidas has our most heartfelt thanks and gratitude. Special thanks to Tauna Dean, Melissa Conrad and Patty Goffe from the Adidas Social Purpose campaign. Their mission is to give back to the community and having worked closely with them the past few months, they truly LIVE OUT THEIR MISSION with the utmost care, compassion, dedication and commitment. They attended a sneaker ceremony at PS 251 in Brooklyn, led by Adaptive Physical Ed teacher Scott Dyer, and then they were running buddies for three of our Achilles Kids at our Hope & Possibility® 4M. We are beyond grateful for our partnership with Adidas!

Above: A jubilant "Team Olivia" with running buddies Melissa Conrad & Tauna Dean from Adidas Social Purpose Campaign crossing the H&P Finish Line; Just a few of the more than 6,500 Achilles Kids members proudly showing off the new Adidas sneakers they earned this year!

Our TriAchilles team has a lot to be excited about. Two of our teammates, Charles-Eduardo Catherine and Alison Lynch, recently returned from the Paratriathlon National Championships in Michigan. They placed second and third in their categories, respectively - not an easy feat, especially when you consider that some of their competitors are Paralympians. Furthermore, this was Alison's first time going to Nationals. We can't wait to see what she will conquer next!
Congratulations to all TriAchilles members who just completed the New York City Triathlon on Sunday, July 16th. More than 20 athletes, guides and charity entrants participated this year - in the Hudson River, up and down the West Side Highway, and around Central Park in one of the team's favorite races. Well done, everyone!!


Celebrating FREEDOM in South Florida, participating in the inaugural Run 4 Freedom 4-miler. Ten Achilles participants showed us all that summertime heat won't stop us! Special Thank You to Jacqui and Harry Kapinowski!!


Achilles Boston guides Lori Chong and Theresa Funkwill guided Jason Romero in the Vermont 100 on Saturday July 15th. This was the first 100-mile ultra-marathon to feature a formal Athletes With Disabilities Awards division. Well done everyone! 
SOCIAL NIGHT : Achilles Boston is hosting a FREE Open House Social Night on Wednesday, July 19th from 5-7pm at the RunBase. There will be food, drink, prizes, and discounted shopping. This is a chance for individuals with disabilities to meet Achilles and hear about the chapter's weekly adaptive running group.  Please spread the word!

 Lori, (left) and Theresa (third from left) at an Achilles Boston workout;
Kyle, (third from right) with Achilles Boston at a group run.

The Achilles Connecticut Chapter had a busy June! The Team competed in the Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon, 10K & 5K on June 4th, and then at the Gaylord Gauntlet Obstacle 5K on June 24th. Edgar Machicote, a visually impaired athlete from New Haven, had his own paparazzi from the New Haven Register follow him during the entire event!  Margaret Rorrio (aka "Grit") represented Achilles CT at the Achilles Hope & Possibility® 4-miler on June 25th in Central Park! Grit had fun running with many of the Philly Chapter athletes and guides! Achilles CT chapter is gearing up for its 2nd Annual Achilles Connecticut Hope & Possibility® presented by Cigna on July 23rd. All Achilles members are invited to register and join Team Achilles! Use the promo code ACHILLESRUNS when checking out. There is a room block at the Hartford/Windsor Marriott Hotel for $99/night for out- of-town guests, and a pre-race Team Dinner at the hotel on Saturday night free of charge. Achilles CT athlete Nyema Pinkney is honoring the 10-year anniversary since losing her vision by committing to 10 road races in 2017. She formed a team of family, friends, and guides called "The Power of 10" with whom she races. Read more about Nyema's inspirational story here.
Achilles CT looks forward to welcoming you to Connecticut on July 23rd!


Thirty members of  Philly Achilles traveled to New York City for their  4th  consecutive Hope & Possibility® weekend. Members had the opportunity to hang out with some favorite NYC chapter members celebrating their special Achilles bond. Eight Philly athletes had outstanding races. Volunteer guides and cheerleaders were amazing!

"Kudos to Achilles International for all you did to organize such a fantastic event!" - Philly Achilles  
Rick Cayer

Congratulations to Rick Cayer, Achilles Philadelphia Chapter guide. Rick is one of our wonderful guides who "likes to put (himself) in the athletes' shoes in order to ensure their safety and anticipate their needs while on a run." Thank you, Rick, for everything you do and for being a big part of Philly Achilles.

To read more about Rick, please click here .

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


July 19th : Achilles Boston FREE Open House Social Night from 5 - 7 pm at the RunBase

July 22ndLong Training #1 in Central Park (12 miles)

 Above: Achilles athletes and guides meet up with NYC Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities at the 2017 Disability Pride Parade.


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