Above:  2016 Havana Marathon
Achilles Heel
December - January 2017
In my writings, I occasionally refer to my "first life" - e.g. before Achilles. My educational background was predominantly New York University where my Ph.D. focused on industrial psychology. My professional work experience included significant research. The first Achilles study we became immersed in was with Dr. Johan Stanghelle in the 1980s. We found that if you have Cystic Fibrosis and run, your life expectancy will improve. Some 20 years ago, I noticed that three of our Achilles members with "Traumatic Brain Injuries" (TBI) blossomed cognitively and socially after a few years of running. That eventually generated a study conducted by Dr. Wayne Gordon at Mt. Sinai Hospital which confirmed the hypothesis. The topic needs additional research. We recently conducted what I anticipate will be considered a ground-breaking study in the area of autism. Ninety-four children on the spectrum who ran during a 4-month period improved physically, intellectually and socially. I suspect that years from now running might become the first "medicine" of choice.

There are other areas where running may provide significant benefits. The first, studied with a major hospital, concerns the effects of running on teenage females who attempted suicide. The project began but was too difficult to complete. That issue needs to be retested - it is generally agreed that if you run the level of depression decreases.

Another hypothesis, for which we have tremendous anecdotal evidence, concerns Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Over 30 years ago when Achilles began, we had people with MS running. At that time, the activity was discouraged by the medical community. While running does not cure MS, over a number of years, the general feeling was that it slowed the decline and improved quality of life. Today, attitudes are much different than a generation ago - doctors now encourage running.

A third hypothesis concerns range of motion for people who are quadriplegic and/or have had strokes. Walking for people with a moderate stroke improves their gait. If a person with a stroke uses a handcycle, the improvement in range of motion for the arm is profound. We have one athlete who is an inspiration in this regard. She tapes her weakened arm to the handlebar and has completed several marathons. For those who are in moderate shape, they exercise an hour or more using the weak arm. With quadriplegics, there has been so much success we call them "faux quads." They are quads but one would not believe it when seeing them compete in races.

In summary, we have seen improvements in Cystic Fibrosis, MS, TBI and Autism. What we need to address are issues of suicide prevention, paralysis and range of motion for those who are quadriplegic and/or have had strokes. Having been active in sports for over 40 years my (probably biased!) feeling is we have in our hands an unbelievably powerful tool for improving health and wellbeing.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! 
Go Achilles!


'Tis the season to support Achilles! We are thrilled to again celebrate the holiday season with the Lakin Challenge! Generously underwritten by Achilles board member David Greenstein along with 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!


Make a donation from your smart phone: Text GOACHILLES to 243725


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 .

Thanks to Bonnie and Sam Marks, Ellen Tenenbaum, Alisa Fastenberg, and Rob Russo for their generous donations to support our program in Cuba and for joining us for the Havana Marathon last month. Havana welcomed thousands of local and international runners on a beautiful day. The runners were greeted by happy locals who cheered and even offered hot Cuban coffee on the course. Seven Achilles Cuba athletes, most of them amputees, joined us for the race. Board member Rob Russo guided a blind Cuban runner and Gerle Shagdar, Director of International Chapters, guided an amputee runner. Achilles athletes Allan Tyson, Dick Traum, Anthony Butler, Achilles Madison athlete Father Dale Grubba and guides ran the marathon and extended their friendship to Achilles Cuba members. Achilles is proud to be one of the first not-for-profit organizations to work in Cuba to cooperate with the Cuban National Association for the Disabled. After the race 32 Achilles athletes, guides and sponsors had a wonderful celebration of our friendship. 

Achilles is thrilled to announce the results of our study conducted in conjunction with NY Medical College concerning the effect of running on children with autism. Funded with a World of Difference grant from the Cigna Foundation, the study supported our years of anecdotal evidence that the Achilles Kids running curriculum positively impacts numerous physical, social, academic and emotional factors for students on the spectrum facing the highest levels of impairment. Led by esteemed New York Medical College professors Susan Ronan, PT, DPT, PCS and Janet Dolot, PT, DPT, DrPH, OCS, the study is one of the largest of its kind set in a public school. Dr. Ronan and Achilles Kids director Karen Lewis presented the results at the SoPac Conference in Keystone, Colorado, on November 12th 2016. We are looking forward to working with Cigna in the months to come on how to leverage the results into helping more children, families, teachers, and care givers.
Achilles Kids is super proud of our elite group of stars who are training hard in preparation for the 2016 Central Park Holiday 10k on December 17th. Led by Angie Bullaro and Mike Musco, Sheridan, Ryan, Julian, Maxi, John and Diego put in lots of extra miles to get ready for this ambitious distance. 


Deepest thanks to AvaCare Medical for donating $3 from every order placed by a veteran or their family members from November 9th to November 16th to Achilles Freedom Team. Check out AvaCare and their ongoing benefits for veterans and members of the military!

Ada Nardin joined Achilles two years ago while visiting New York City from Italy. She worked out with us every week in Central Park throughout the summer of 2015 along with Matteo Briglia, also from Italy. Ada was so inspired by what we do that she started an Achilles chapter in Italy as soon as she returned home. Now we have chapters in Rome and Milan. Haki Doku, an Achilles member from Milan, completed the New York City Marathon with us this past November. He said that he is still feels the excitement and indescribable support of New York. He had tears of joy crossing the finish line. Haki completed 10 international marathons in 2016 representing Achilles Italy. What a year! Well done, Haki!
Thank you Ada for making Achilles of Italy so successful.

Michael Kenney

Congratulations to Michael Kenney who has been incredibly active with Achilles since joining in 2014. Michael is not just an amazing dedicated volunteer, he is also an ultra-marathoner and triathlete. Well done, Michael, and thank you for everything.

"If there was something I could bring to the public's attention, it is that Achilles is one of the greatest charitable organizations on the planet. It isn't up for debate. Everyone should see it for themselves, whether it is Achilles NYC, Achilles Kids, Achilles Freedom Team or any of the other Achilles groups around the world." - Michael Kenney
To read more about Michael, please click here .

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


Achilles Boston had a busy month. They celebrated receiving The James Rooney Award at our recent Gala. They also celebrated big wins at the inaugural Cambridge Half-Marathon on Sunday November 13th. Sarah Maust won third place in the women's visually impaired division and Hannah DeFelice won first place in the women's visually impaired division. It was Sarah's first half-marathon and Hannah's return to the race after a short break. The chapter also attended a Paralympic Sports Clinic at the YMCA sponsored by Adaptive Sports New England and met Olympic medalist swimmer Anna Johannes (all photos below).

Achilles Nashville athletes and volunteer guides participated in the 23rd Annual Boulevard Bolt Thanksgiving morning. Everyone felt it was such an honor to participate as the crowd of 8,000+ is always so supportive and encouraging! Achilles Nashville athlete, Sara Solomon, snagged a picture with Nashville Mayor, Megan Barry.

Philly Achilles made a big splash at the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon Race Weekend. They had a team of 55 representing 11 athletes and 24 guides in three races! They tried to get a picture with as many people as possible, but runners move fast. This picture is post Half Marathon, pre 8k. Congratulations to everyone!


January 6-8: 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Orlando, Florida

Above: Sarah Maust (upper right); Hannah DeFelice (lower right); Meeting Olympic medalist swimmer Anna Johannes (lower left, with Laura Buso)
Above: Achilles Nashville at the 23rd Annual Boulevard Bolt Thanksgiving morning;
Sara Solomon (lower right) with Nashville Mayor, Megan Barry

Above: Achilles Philadelphia Chapter at Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon Race Weekend


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