Above: Achilles Connecticut Michael Tubiak (athlete of the year-center)
with Laura LaRiverie (volunteer of the year-left) and Jo-Anne Rankin (volunteer - right) proudly showing off their medals after completing the
2017 Eversource Hartford Marathon.

Achilles Heel
November - December 2017
"You Helped Change My Life"

In college, Abraham Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" was an exciting concept. It described a person's needs beginning with food and shelter and expanding to self-actualization. Let me suggest a similar idea -an athlete's "hierarchy of needs and achievement". It begins with a T-Shirt, typically received as one signs up for a race. The beauty of a shirt is that the only requirement is paying for the event. You do not need to show up or expend any effort. Following this, you might wear the shirt and parade around the park suggesting your "success". "Look at my Ironman t-shirt! Wow! It was an exciting run." What's happening is one signals to others I am special. It's not that different from Boy Scouts wearing their merit badges, although they earned them. Occasionally, I wear my NYC Marathon shirts in Central Park, which I earned as a marathon finisher and wonder if anyone notices. Fred Lebow, the founder of the NYC Marathon, had a famous quote: "Never underestimate the value of a t-shirt". Almost every race included one and it was a major factor in increasing race entries.

A second hierarchical "award" is the Medal, associated with a finish or a success. It has a tremendous impact. A friend, who was the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, remembers winning his first medals as a young boy in Brooklyn. They empowered him to achieve more. Many years later his experience helped Achilles when he contributed 5,000 medals for our Achilles Kids program. When one of our Achilles Kids with a disability completes 13.1 miles, he or she wins a medal. Many treasure them as a most valuable possession. Another friend and Achilles marathoner who passed some years ago asked that his marathon medal be placed on his neck in his coffin. The medal represented his greatest success and possibly his fondest memory of achieving.

My third level in the hierarchy is the Trophy, a sign of some achievement or success completing an event. I remember winning my first trophy in the seventh grade as the MVP in a seventh/eighth grade track meet competition. It was part luck inasmuch as, after doing well in the 100 yard-dash and shot-put, there was very little competition in the discus! The award was a big thing, supplemented with lots of congratulations and a feeling that I was a really good athlete and was seen by others in this way. I was a "jock". Although the trophy is now broken, it still holds great memories. The key point was it gave me some motivation to keep improving.

Number four is the Plaque. My definition is: "An honor for having accomplished an activity of note, worthy of a speech and applause." Each year we honor people at our dinners for having done something exceptionally well. Many remember the day as their favorite. The first plaque I received was at the awards ceremony after completing the 1976 NYC Marathon. There was a standing ovation which went on so long, I motioned, "too much, sit down". They aren't always as important for the recipient. I witnessed one awardee who, with tongue in cheek, said, "Thank you, this is the greatest honor I have received today!"

Finally the fifth, and the one which I appreciate the most, is someone coming over to you and saying, "You helped change my life!"

It isn't something one can place on the wall. It is much more meaningful. It's a reward from a person who you have supported, bonded with, coached and encouraged. The feeling is as good as it gets. It's an award for sharing what you have learned and benefited from and then given to another.

During this year's New York City Marathon, literally hundreds of individuals offered to volunteer. People were asked to get up at four in the morning, and rain or snow, accompany someone with a disability completing over twenty-six miles. Many others volunteered behind the scene to help ensure a safe and incident-free day was had by all. Sometimes, it's a sixteen-hour day. Why does someone do this? It's for the award; it's for the "thank you"; it's for the surge in your heart that you helped change someone's life.  What an achievement! What a gift!

We all help change lives every day, consciously or unconsciously - years later, perhaps discovering what a few words or a kind gesture meant to someone or how encouraging someone through running helped create a positive impact. I would like to start a collection of stories titled: "Achilles Helped Change My Life". If you have a story about how Achilles (or someone you met through Achilles) helped change your life, please send me a note via email: dicktraum@aol.com.

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 .


'Tis the season to support Achilles! We are thrilled to once again celebrate the holiday season with the Lakin Challenge! Generously underwritten by Achilles board member David Greenstein along with Robert ("Bob") Lakin, Neil Mellen and the Town Fair Tire Foundation, the Lakin challenge will match all donations specifically earmarked for this challenge through December 31st up to $50,000. Please note "Lakin challenge" when making your donation and help athletes with disabilities have the opportunity to be active and achieve!


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!


We don't call it "Marathon Month" for nothin!! Over the past five weekends, the Achilles Freedom Team sponsored over 100 members to compete, achieve and cross Finish Lines in the Chicago, Detroit, Marine Corps and New York City Marathons. Heartfelt thanks to GM Military Discount and the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers, Bank of America's MSAG group, the Union League Club of NYC, the NYPD, the FDNY and all our generous supporters for your continuous backing of our program and the athletes we serve. Thank you to all race staff, volunteers, and family members for helping to make these race weekends enjoyable for the team. And most of all, thank you to our incredible athletes! You are remarkable and we are so honored to be a part of your journey on and off the racecourse.


The TCS New York City Marathon took place on Sunday November 5th and Team Achilles did not disappoint. With nearly 250 Achilles Athletes with Disabilities (AWD) and almost 400 guides making the trek across all five boroughs, hundreds of thousands of spectators were treated to an inspiring day as a sea of yellow Achilles signature shirts flew by. While race fans lined the streets cheering on eventual winners Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor and Shalane Flanagan, chants of "Go Achilles!" could be heard from Brooklyn to Queens, on First Avenue, in the Bronx and at the finish line in Central Park. Leading the way were our handcyclists and push-rim athletes who rallied the crowds early on. They were followed by a number of speedy Achilles athletes and guides from all over the globe -- including 84 international athletes from as far as Japan, Mongolia, South Africa and New Zealand. As darkness fell on the Sheep's Meadow at the finish, a crowd of spectators hundreds deep were not ready to call it a night. Rather, they stayed until the bitter end to cheer on the race's final finisher -- Achilles NYC's very own David Fraser. As the crowd went wild, Paralympic athlete and former New York City Marathon winner Tatyana McFadden placed a medal around David's neck, leading to an even bigger roar of applause. A video of the moment went viral after being posted by The Players Tribune -- resulting in thousands of streams worldwide.

There were a number of heartwarming stories on Marathon Sunday and Francesco Magisano (an Achilles member who is blind), running in his first-ever marathon, summed it up best: "It was such a roller-coaster of emotions and experiences. The hundreds of live bands, the thousands of screaming people and, of course, the smell of pizza running through Brooklyn. Thanks to my friends, brothers, and sisters who came out and shouted my name. Thanks for the hundreds of people who shouted out my team, GO ACHILLES! Thanks to the many volunteers at all the stations." Francesco finished the race in a speedy 4:10:38.

** HOLD THE DATE FOR NYCM 2018 *** - If you don't want to bother with the LOTTERY process, join Achilles for  NYCM 2018 as a CHARITY ENTRANT - we will guarantee your bib. 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), enjoy a pre-marathon pasta dinner and so much more!!! We sold out fast for 2017 and are taking reservations NOW! (Exact details will follow soon.) Watch this space...Contact FIONA for more information and questions.


In keeping with tradition, the annual Achilles Pasta Party and Awards Dinner was held on the Friday night before the TCS New York City Marathon at the Hotel Pennsylvania's Grand Ballroom. With nearly 500 athletes, guides and Achilles supporters in attendance it was an evening to celebrate this past year's success while carbo-loading for race day. The event was generously sponsored by the GM Military Discount and the house was packed by athletes from around the globe with more than 20 countries represented.

This year's award recipients were a true representation of the spirit of Achilles. The Stephen R. Fastenberg Award for outstanding Achilles Kids member was presented to Ryan Ng, who ran his first Half Marathon this year. The James Rooney Award for Outstanding National Volunteer went to Nicoletta Nerangis, President of the Achilles Brooklyn Chapter. The Ted & Betsy Rogers Award went to accomplished marathon runner, Bedir Yiyti, Achilles Norway. The Alberto Arroyo Award was presented to Mauricio Blandino and The Erica Sanborn Award for Outstanding NYC Chapter Guide of the Year went to Herb Pinder. The GM Freedom Team Award went to Carl Morgan, an athlete who embraces the positivity of Achilles mission and is always making new friends as he treks from race to race.

Achilles founder Dick Traum closed out the evening to cheers from the crowd of anxious and excited marathoners. 

This fall has been an incredibly exciting time for Achilles Kids! We are tremendously proud of our elite group of Achilles Kids all-stars - kids we have had the joy and privilege of watching grow up and grow into serious runners over the past ten years. After months of training and countless miles under their belt, four Achilles Kids - Diego, Julian, Noah and Ryan - completed the Brooklyn Rock 'n Roll Half-Marathon on October 14th! They not only completed the 13.1 mile distance, but they all finished strong. What a thrill! Our deepest and most heartfelt thanks to Angie Bullaro and Michael Musco for leading the way; to our two other amazing volunteer leaders Carolyn Wynne and Theresa Molloy for their devoted service; and to all the volunteers who not only went the distance that day, but who run with the kids at our workouts every Saturday. The steadfast support, guidance and encouragement of all our dedicated volunteers make it possible for our kids to reach their goal. A very special shout-out to Noah Coopersmith who also ran the 2017 NYC Marathon with his dad Michael as his guide. Noah set his sights on that goal several years ago and has worked very hard to make it a reality. Noah and his dad crossed the NYC Marathon finish line in 5:03:26! WAY TO GO NOAH!

TWENTY-FIVE Achilles Kids got to experience the thrill of crossing the NYC Marathon finish line the day before the NYC Marathon at the Abbott Dash to the Finish 5K. Starting at the U.N., the kids ran through mid-town Manhattan and ended at the very same finish line that 50,000+ runners would cross the following day (including Noah and Achilles Kid alum Tyler McNeil!) What a thrill! Congratulations to all our runners! Go Achilles Kids!

Last but not least, congratulations to Ryan Ng for not only completing the Brooklyn Rock 'n Roll Half-Marathon in an astounding 2:05, but for being awarded the Steven R. Fastenberg Achilles Kids Award at our pre-marathon awards dinner. Ryan is an outstanding runner who will begin volunteering at some of our Saturday workouts. He recently ran as a guide for one of our kids at the Dash to the Finish. Congratulations - and many thanks! - Ryan!

We are so very proud of all our Achilles Kids who work hard and run with such determination. Whether the goal distance is one mile or 26.2 miles, we are overwhelmed by the dedication and determination of all our kids. Thanks to all our awesome volunteers Achilles Kids get to accomplish their goals and enjoy the magic of achievement.

The triathlon season ended with a bang for TriAchilles! Our team captain, Charles Catherine, together with his guide Thomas Barbe, won their first International Triathlon Union Race in Sarasota, Florida for the French National Team. It's hard to believe that Charles learned how to swim with TriAchilles just three years ago. You can read their race recap here

Here is an inspiring video about William "Billy" Davis (a.k.a. "Big Billy"), another one of our promising triathletes.  Next season will be even better!

And speaking of Billy Davis....on October 17th, Antonello Velez won first place in the Cigna Sponsored Artists Showcase for "Never Stop", a short featuring our very own TriAchilles Billy.

The 19th Annual Race for Rehab was once again a smash hit! Our wonderful hosts from the New York Medical College (NYCM) hosted a spectacular event that included more than 25 Achilles runners and handcyclists. After a healthy breakfast, a group of 200 athletes took off on a 5k race around the NYMC campus in Valhalla, NY. Finishers were treaty to smoothies, a buffet breakfast and an awards ceremony where Achilles NYC athletes Eleanor Chapman and Lajourn Dolphin took home 1st Place Honors. The college announced a generous contribution to Achilles with plans to go big for the 20th anniversary in 2018.

Big news on the Achilles Boulder front is Becky Piper's IM finish

To find out more about Becky and Achilles Boulder check out this youtube video.

Achilles Connecticut Chapter had a team of 24 athletes and their guides in all distances of the 2017 Eversource Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K on October 14th. For the 4th year in a row, they were an Official Charity Partner of the race. Two nights earlier, the Cigna Marketing Insights Team helped organize and run the Team Pasta Dinner & Pep Rally complete with speeches, raffles, and the presentation of the Achilles Connecticut Athlete and Volunteer of the Year Awards. Congratulations to Michael Tubiak (athlete) and Laura LaRiviere (volunteer) who together finished the Spartan Beast in Killington, VT in September.

Achilles Nashville hosted their 4th Annual Hope & Possibility® 5-Miler and 1-Miler on Saturday October 21st at the Dominican Campus. Another great turnout and wonderful weather to match! They had several athletes with disabilities participate and even more guides as well as other runners from the Middle Tennessee Community. With so many wonderful compliments by all who participated, they are already looking forward to next year's race!

The amazing John Young started racing triathlons back in 2009 at age 43 as a way to take a hold of his life and become healthier. After he completed the NYC Triathlon in 2012, Kat Bateman (then the Director of Achilles NYC) suggested he become a member of Achilles. Since then John says he has "found purpose in my racing, being able to train alongside some of the most amazing athletes, guides, coaches and volunteers around". Adding, "Achilles has helped me reach heights I never thought possible, having now completed 10 Marathons and, in 2016, my first Ironman Maryland". Congratulations, John. You never cease to inspire and amaze us! To read more about John and follow his 2017 IM Maryland, please check out his blog here

 Above: John Young, courtesy of Mindy Randall.

Tiffany Chou

We are delighted to honor Tiffany Chou as Volunteer of the Month. Tiffany has been with us since 2012. Over the last few years, she has created a fabulous YouTube video series with Achilles athlete, Sarah Heller, called BFF's. if you have a chance, please check it out. The videos are great! Congratulations, Tiffany, and thank you for everything you do for Achilles. 

To read more about Tiffany, please click here .

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


Nov 30th :  DEADLINE to register for 2018 NYC Half Marathon (email Michael for details.)

Dec 16th: Achilles NYC 5th Annual Reindeer Romp 4-Miler, at our regular Central Park time and location: 10:30 am @ 90th & 5th Ave/Central Park

 Above: Achilles Brazil on the road to the Paralympics; 
Achilles Madison Chapter enjoyed a beautiful fall day for a picnic in the park on September 17th. The chapter celebrates its 12th year!!!! Congratulations, Achilles Madison!!! Way to go!;
Scenes from the 2nd Annual Achilles Mongolia Hope & Possibility


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