Above: Saturday in the Park!

Achilles Heel
September - October 2017
Saturday morning is my favorite time of the week. After a leisurely breakfast and several sections of the New York Times, it's off to our workout. Wow! There are over a hundred people out. Typically, we have four groups: the largest consists of our longest-standing members...people who are ambulatory. Many are visually impaired, but the group includes people with strokes, traumatic brain injuries, amputees running on artificial legs, and others with different mobility issues. At 10:15,  Michael Anderson , our NYC Chapter Director hops on a bench and at the top of his lungs gets everyone's attention. "Who is here for the first time?" he asks. A few people sheepishly raise their hands and the group applauses. It's followed by some messages about the next race, the weather, a reminder to hydrate, and perhaps the next marathon or results from a recent event. The group divides into walkers and runners. The walkers are paired up by  Andy Ashwell . Andy came to us through New York Cares and has been volunteering for almost thirty years, twice a week, and sometimes more when he also volunteers as a guide. Estimating 3500 times.  Thank you Andy! He matches up the slower-paced athletes with volunteers who prefer walking or slow jogging. The runners are matched by Michael based on speed and distance. The typical distance is five miles but can range to over twenty, for marathon training. Off they go.

The second group is Achilles Kids. Angie Bullaro, with a voice of authority only an actress could master, (yes, she is an actress), calls the children and their volunteers to line up. Their venue is the bridle path around the reservoir...almost two miles. Off they go. The thrill is fifteen to thirty minutes later as the kids complete the first lap. They are greeted by parents, friends and volunteers with the excitement and joy seen by finishers of the NYC Marathon. Hugs, high fives, and celebration is in the air. Many take a breath and go for another lap, sometimes two. Our Achilles Kids LOVE to run. Parents say it's their favorite activity. Interestingly, a disabled child with autism, who runs regularly, is faster than his or hers non-disabled peers and is aware of the success. Some chatter, water, smiles and the morning is over.

On the West Side of the park, a group of Achilles Kids is led by Janet Patton at the Jewish Community Center (JCC). They run in a gym and participate in one of the most creative programs ever. Many workouts have themes: it's Halloween, Christmas, Easter, the first day of summer. Banners, toys, balloons, etc. define the run, which comprises several laps around the gym and heaps of love, applause, and fantastic feedback. It is a joy for all.

The third and quietist group, of which I am part, is the wheelchair athletes. We meet under the hundred-year-old-plus oak tree. Nano Chilmon and Antonio Martinez, both wheelchair athletes, coach and accompany the group. They raise eyebrows early in the morning when they pull a dozen or so handcycles, tied together, from a trailer in the park to ninetieth street. Chairs are adjusted, tires are filled with air, and off they go. Some race at fifteen miles an hour for twenty-five or more miles. Others may complete two miles. The beginners are accompanied by our coaches. We spend as much time training as we do sitting around and just enjoying each other's company.

Finally, there is the Triathlon team...TriAchilles. They begin early in the morning with many blind members using tandem bikes. Charles-Edouard Catherine is team leader and coach for what is probably the largest group of disabled athletes anywhere. He is gifted, and like many on the team, visually disabled. After the workout, off they go to the JCC for the second part of their workout...swimming.

Around 11:30, after chatting, telling stories and making jokes, I shiver a bit, think about it, and begin my workout. It's like getting into the bathtub. It's a shock, it becomes manageable, there is satisfaction.... And, eventually joy!


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 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!


This is a great story of high school lacrosse and hockey brothers continuing a sacred bond over the years and coming together to celebrate and give to our Achilles Freedom Team. Each year, this tight-knit group of Montgomery High School (NJ) alumni host a reunion -- the official Monty Bros Annual Golf Outing. This year, they made a very special addition to the weekend with a fundraising component. Monty Bro, Kevin Tarca, organized a $500 donation made up of contributions from each of the players in the tournament to be given to the charity of the tournament winners' choosing. Kevin Hover and William Treichler won the tournament and because of their friendship with our dear Freedom Team friends, Michael Spivey and Lauren Galliker, chose our Freedom Team to be the inaugural beneficiary of the Monty Bros Annual Golf Outing! The funds will be put to use with our Freedom Team this fall during which more than 100 members participate in four marathons in five weeks!! Thank you to all involved and for spreading the Achilles spirit!


Freedom Team member Alfredo "Freddie" De Los Santos continues to make us proud! We are humbled by his openness, continuous drive and stellar ambassadorship for our Freedom Team. Thrilled to see how he continues to serve the United States on the world stage as a role model and U.S. Paralympian handcyclist! Well done, Freddie!  See this wonderful NBC News Story!

The Race for Rehab is an annual 5K run held on the NY Medical College campus each October. The festive event - which also features student-led warm-ups and a post-race awards ceremony - debuted in 1999 and is hosted by Doctor of Physical Therapy students from the School of Health Sciences and Practice

Proceeds from the race benefit Achilles International. Guides, transportation and dog-sitting will be provided. All are welcome! Please contact Michael Anderson to RSVP and reserve a spot.

Are you planning to guide an Achilles Athlete at an upcoming race (other than the TCS NYC Marathon)?

Please be sure to log in to your NYRR account and click on the volunteer section to register as a race volunteer under 'Michael's Group'. This must be done 10 days before each race. Please contact Michael Anderson with questions. 

More than 300 Achilles athletes will cross finish lines in four marathons in five weeks! We have strong rosters in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon (Oct 8th), The Detroit Free Press Marathon (Oct 15th), The Marine Corps Marathon (Oct 22nd) and the TCS New York City Marathon (Nov 5th). If you're in any of those towns, come and cheer us on. If you are on social media, help to pump our athletes up with some love and encouragement: 
  • #GoAchilles
  • #AchillesFreedomTeam
  • #FreedomTeamChallenge 

If you are joining us for any of the four marathon weekends---we cannot wait to have epic experiences with you and witness your glory and the power of the Achilles spirit!!!

Support Achilles programs with auction donation items. We'd love a selection of holiday wines, pieces of jewelry, or a visit to a vineyard. Anything you'd like to donate, we'd love to offer!

Please contact Sarah at sphilliips@achillesinternational.org ASAP with your donation. Help us celebrate the power of achievement!

We are thrilled to announce our new chapter in Switzerland!! Led by Gérard Joliat, the chapter's goal is to create a connection between able-bodied and people with disabilities by running together. "In Switzerland, a lot of people with disabilities are lonely," says Gérard. In true Achilles spirit, he wants to change all that starting with weekly running and cycling workouts which began this month. People are already talking about this and asking about Achilles.
"The main, long-term goal is to create a connection between disabled and able-bodied people...one of our targets is to participate in the New York City Marathon next year." Thank you, Gerard, and best of luck to everyone in Achilles Switzerland! We hope to see you at 2018 NYCM!!!
Follow Achilles Switzerland on Facebook!

Jeff Gelband

We are delighted to honor Jeff Gelband as Volunteer of the Month. Jeff became a volunteer in July 2015 and has been a huge part of Achilles ever since, always showing up at weekly workouts and running with our members. In his spare time, Jeff can occasionally be heard playing guitar with Tom DeRosa's Achilles blues band. Thank you, Jeff, for everything you do for Achilles!

"There are very few things in my life that I have found more rewarding than becoming part of the Achilles community and making friends with all those involved. Running is merely the medium to the connection you make with people of all different backgrounds." - Jeff Gelband

To read more about Jeff, please click here .

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


Chapter News 
We are thrilled that the Achilles San Francisco Bay Area Chapter held its first workout early in September! Way to hang in there! In Transition: Monica Michna has transitioned presidency of the Pittsburgh, PA chapter to Katie Matrisch. In Providence, RI Alice Lim has passed the torch to Erin Williams. In Colorado: Amelia Dickerson succeeds Michael Oliva as president of the Denver chapter. All of the outgoing presidents are founders. We thank them for taking Achilles to new places and seeing that it continues! Best wishes and continued success to all! In the Works: Twin Cities, MN is being headed by Roberta Oveson; John Sterling will be leading the charge in Las Vegas; Scott Franklin is gearing up in Iowa, while Andrew Porter will make it happen in Austin, TX.

Achilles Nashville 4th Annual Hope & Possibility® Event 
Achilles Nashville is extremely proud to host their  4th annual Hope & Possibility® event in Music City on October 12th! Athletes of all abilities, from elite runners to walkers and rollers, are welcome to this community-unifying event! For more details and to sign up  please click here.

Oct 1st : Mighty Man Montauk Triathlon, Montauk, NY.

Oct 8th: Race for Rehab in 
  Valhalla, NY

Oct 12th: Achilles Nashville 4th annual Hope & Possibility® event in Music City

Dec 16th: NYC Chapter Reindeer Romp, Central Park 90th & 5th

 Above: Achilles San Francisco hitting the road!


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