Above:  Achilles Queens  members participating in the 
JFK Runway 5K Run on April 9th.

Achilles Heel
May 2017
On June 25th 2017, we are holding our 15th Annual Hope & Possibility® (H&P) race in Central Park. We have currently signed up over 4,000 athletes - 400 ahead of this time last year. We sold out last year. So, if you are joining us, please sign up immediately.
A lot has happened during the past fifteen years. Our premier event increased in size from a few hundred to over 7,000. H&P races began in other cities in the US from Nashville to Connecticut and Pittsburgh . H&P races also began an international presence from Germany, Peru and Brazil to St. Petersburg, Russia, and even Mongolia. Imagine 3,300 participants running in Ulaanbaatar!
Let me describe the core mission. First, there is my belief in mainstreaming. People with disabilities should run with people without disabilities. It increases the comfort level of both groups. When Achilles began, I knew no one with a disability and felt awkward. What do you say? Can you ask questions? What is politically correct? Second, it isn't always necessary for the disabled community to be helped and supported by others as a parent might help a child. Yes, the disabled community can take on the role of the parent and run things for everyone. Finally, disabled folks, like myself, rarely have opportunities for awards. So, why not have several disabled categories. It's like having a race with a focus on age groups! Provide others with a chance to succeed.
A reminder about how we began. Our first event was called the Achilles Marathon. That was April 1st, 2001. This was an eight-and-a-half loop run around Prospect Park. It was raining and the temperature was around 35 degrees. I remember the day well. We were all shaking by the time the race was over. The marathon did not work. People, including me, had trouble counting the laps. Back then, there were no computers counting laps. 

The following year, we moved it to April 28th...at least it would be warmer. No such luck. Another 35 degrees and a deluge of rain. It was biblical! The marathon did not work. The third year we tried to move it to Central Park. A deal was struck...cut it to five miles, and it's an event. Yes!
As the planning progressed, Trisha Meili, our Board Chair, was completing a book titled, "I Am The Central Park Jogger, a Story of Hope & Possibility". Why not name the race after her book? Trisha, for those of you not my age, was running in Central Park in April 1989 when she was attacked by a group of thugs, raped, beaten and left for dead. Fourteen years later, she reclaimed the park! A half-mile into the run, she passed the spot, on the 102nd street crossway, where she almost lost her life. Trisha ran with Governor David Paterson, a visually impaired Achilles member and marathoner. At the time, he was a state senator. His relationship to the race is interesting. In 1989, while Trisha was in the hospital, it was anticipated that she would not survive and a newspaper published her name. David initiated legislation prohibiting naming a victim of a sexual crime. He eventually became the senate minority leader, Lt. Governor, and Governor. Following in Trisha's footsteps, he also became Achilles Board Chair. Trisha leading David completed the five miles in forty-eight minutes. Our event was a grand success. Yes, Trisha reclaimed Central Park!
H&P continued to grow, changed starting places and moved to the last week in June. My favorite year is 2010, when Prince Harry ran. He was in town and wished to join our Freedom Team of wounded, ill and injured veterans. He was remarkable. Not only did he run as a guide with a wounded soldier, he chatted with our soldiers, and clearly had fun. Last year, we encountered a new experience. The race sold out. People who waited until the last week, perhaps to insure decent weather, could not enter. Goodness gracious, we had a winner. The downside of a sold-out event was so many unhappy faces. I hope you register early and have the opportunity of seeing the back of my neck. This means I am ahead of you and enjoying myself!
You can sign up for H&P here (more details below).


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 .


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


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 selection 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. 


Achilles International hosted 38 athletes for the 121st Boston Marathon the weekend of April 15th. Our New York, Connecticut, Nashville, Florida, Peru, Australia and Boston chapter athletes were nicely represented as were 27 members of our Freedom Team. We are grateful for the tremendous support from our brothers at the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes FoundationDan Magoon - we cannot thank you enough! Also, heartfelt thanks to the GM Military Discount which sponsors the Freedom Team in marathons throughout the year; Veteran's Airlift Command - the owners and pilots - who give of their resources and time to fly team members; the First Responders of the City of Boston and the State of Massachusetts who were present throughout the weekend to roll out the red carpet everywhere we went. Dan Lyons and the Boston Red Sox welcome and honor our team each year on the sacred field at Fenway. We also deeply appreciate the generosity of Yankee Bus Company, which enables us to travel to Boston as a team in accessible comfort and style. A big shout out to mega-talented Joseph Kelley and his son for generously giving of their time and capturing so many incredible moments throughout the weekend! Because of you we can all better remember the good times. And finally, we thank and adore all of the local volunteers whom we could not function without during race weekend!
This was a powerful and healing year for Boston as evidenced by the weekend participation of our adopted Freedom Team members and bombing survivors Marc Fucarile and Patrick Downes. As many witnessed, these men advocated and made the needs of our team heard by the Boston Athletic Association (BAA)Many results were immediate: the BAA hosted the first-ever official recognition ceremony and prize purse for the 1st place handcycle athletes. Our stellar Freedom Team Elite athlete, Tom Davis, won first place with a record-breaking time of 58 minutes and 36 seconds! Absolutely incredible! The moment was epic and will surely have a positive effect not only on handcycle divisions in marathons but the broader athletes with disabilities division at large. We will continue to work to take further progressive steps and are so grateful for Patrick and Marc's efforts to educate, embrace and lift up! Their passion, in particular for the Freedom Team is humbling and we are so honored to have their voices representing people with disabilities in the community. (To view any media attention - we had amazing coverage - please visit the News section of our website.)
A profound thank you to Massachusetts State Representative Daniel Cullinane and Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe for their support, dedication to our athletes and commitment to serving the people! We cannot wait to return to Boston and appreciate all the inspiration and encouragement that you provide the athletes and families we serve!


Thanks to Achilles friend and long-time volunteer, Cory Nolan, Deutsche Bank employees raised $4,300 dollars for Achilles Freedom Team through a fun campaign "Wear Jeans on Friday!" This is a great and creative way to get any staff involved in raising funds for Achilles programs. If you would like to start a similar campaign in your workplace, please let us know!! Please email Janet Patton for details.

Above: Cory Nolan and fellow Deutsche Bank Employees

Achilles diplomacy through sports works in Colombia. The "Lend Your Leg" ("Presta tu Priena") campaign is a growing movement,  supported by 154 countries that have signed the United Nations international treaty to eliminate the use of antipersonnel landmines worldwide. Colombia is ranked number two in the world behind Afghanistan with the most landmines. In 2011, Achilles Colombia chapter president, Pierry Ramirez Duvan, approached  Chris Holcomb (President of Achilles Florida at the time) with a proposal to hold  the first "Lend Your leg" 11k race. The Achilles Ambassadorship Program with Colombia was born with  the support of Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs the US Embassy and Archangles, a Colombia-based nonprofit organization. It provides rehabilitation resources for disabled communities affected by landmines.
The "Presta tu Priena" event is not just a race for Achilles International. It is an international ambassadorship program that delivers "Hope & Possibility" to these effected landmine victims throughout Colombia. Since 2011, Achilles international ambassadors, both Achilles Freedom Team veterans and Achilles nonmilitary, have represented the United States in this groundbreaking project.  On April 9th 2017, Achilles International ambassadors Chris Holcomb, Alfredo Del Los Santos, Helman Roman, Maria Roman, Nathan Harmon, Katie Murphy, Carl Morgan, James Johnson, Ed Salau, Ben Simmons, Anthony Radetic, Cesar Jimenez, Gerle Shagdar and Robert Russo participated in the 6th Annual "Lend Your Leg" 11k race in Bogota.  Over 4,000 race participants ran in support of landmine victims. More than 1,400 of the registered runners were  landmine victims. Our mission delivers hope and possibility through targeted outreach initiatives in which our ambassadors work to collect desperately needed medical equipment. Since 2011, our ambassadors have collected and delivered over $500,000 in prosthetics, wheelchairs, handcycles, racing wheelchairs, crutches, and various other medical supplies. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing an Achilles athlete provide independence to a wounded landmine victim. This international collaboration is life-changing for Achilles members and even more important, lifesaving for the recipients. A prime example is an in-kind donation of a power wheelchair provided by Cletis Mays, an Achilles Freedom Team member. The power wheelchair was retrofitted to provide independence for a young child permanently disabled by a landmine. The child was brought in on a sled and presented with the new powerchair during a special presentation. This donation was an immediate life-changing event for a young child.
This is an Achilles way to change the world though sports! 


Registration is filling up fast! If you haven't signed up for this year's race, please be sure to do so TODAY! The race is a NYC Marathon Qualifier - so this is an easy stop on your road to 9 + 1! Last year we sold out with 7,000 runners!! Wow! Register soon before it is sold out! 

To register and set up a fundraising page, click here.

H&P BRUNCH!  Watch this space for our 3rd Annual Hope & Possibility Brunch @ Dorrian's Red Hand. Details to follow very soon!


Go Achilles Kids!!! Take a look at this new Runner's World piece that features Achilles and the autism research study conducted with the support of our amazing sponsors from Cigna!

Achilles 2017 Fall Gala is quickly approaching! We welcome your auction donations, such as airline miles, restaurant gift certificates and spa packages. Please email Sarah Phillips with items and questions. Thanks so much.

Brianna Nielsen

We are delighted to honor Brianna Nielsen as Volunteer of the Month. Brianna became a volunteer in March 2016 and has been very active ever since. She will run her first Brooklyn Half-Marathon later this month. Way to go, Brianna. Thank you for everything you do for Achilles!
"One thing I have found to be interesting is how each athlete responds to different styles of encouragement. Certain athletes know what they are capable of and are able to identify their own limits; some need to be pushed and actively motivated in order to reach their potential, and others respond best when the pressure is removed completely and they are given the opportunity to make decisions on their own. Every athlete is different and in my opinion there is no "best" way to be a guide. It seems the path to success comes from consistency and unconditional support." - Brianna Nielsen

To read more about Brianna, please click here .

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


Achilles Connecticut has several great events coming up (May-July). Be sure to contact Erin Spaulding, President, Achilles CT for more information and to get involved.
May 12th  - Raise a Glass for Achilles Connecticut!  FUNdraiser at The Thomas Hooker Brewery
June 4th   - Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon, 10K & 5K  (Simsbury)
June 24th  -  Gaylord Gauntlet Obstacle Course 5K (Wallingford)
June 25th -  NYC H&P
July 23rd - Achilles CT H&P presented by Cigna 
All Achilles members from other Chapters are welcome to Connecticut! Register here! When prompted, select TEAM ACHILLES.  At checkout, use promo code ACHILLESRUNS for $5 registration.

Achilles Queens participated in the JFK Runway 5K Run on April 9th. There was a sense of hope, inspiration and the joy of achievement in all. Everyone left the runway feeling strong and united with the call of Go Achilles! in the background.  

Achilles Pittsburgh athletes are participating in the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 7th.  Pittsburgh chapter president Monica Michna sends heartfelt thanks to the more than 300 who took part in their Hope & Possibility® race in April.  
In Houston, the West End Brew Run 5K was held to raise money for the chapter.  More than 450 runners, included 10 Achilles athletes and over $7,500 was raised.  

Achilles Nashville is super proud of Stephanie Zundel, who qualified and ran Boston Marathon as well as its first racing chair athlete Matt Davis to ever participate in the London Marathon!  Three visually-impaired athletes completed the Warrior Dash on Saturday April 22nd, and 10 athletes competed in the St Jude Rock N Roll Marathon Series. Achilles Nashville was also fortunate to be the beneficiary of Race Judicata on April 8th along with ABLE Youth.  Next up for Achilles Nashville is the Titans 5K on May 20th, followed by the Firecracker 500 on 4th of July.

On Memorial Day, it's Bolder Boulder, the biggest 10K in the world with more than 50,000 participants. Achilles Boulder will participate for the third year with 40 athletes and 40 guides representing!  Boulder chapter leader Adam Mayer thanks sponsors Crossfit Roots and Suffer Better for funding the athletes. 

Achilles NYC sent five qualifying athletes to Boston for marathon. Next up is the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 19!   Well done, everyone!


May 20th : Titans 5K 

May 29th: Bolder Boulder

June 25th:  Achilles 15th Hope & Possibility® 4-Miler in Central Park, NYC 

July 4th :- Firecracker 500 - Nashville 

July 22nd : Long Training #1 in Central Park (12 miles) 

August 13th : Long Training #2 in Central Park (12 miles)

September 10th: New Balance 5th Avenue Mile

Above: Team Venezuela proudly displaying their sense of unity; Middle row, Left: Achilles athlete Steven Green (from Australia) with guide Enrique Suana and athlete Peru Hugo Estrada (from Peru) with guide Miguel Rodriguez joined Achilles team in Boston; Right - Mercedes Gomez, President of Achilles Venezuela, successfully finished the State Department "Global Sport Mentoring program"; Achilles Queens at the Unisphere in Corona Park and on the runway at the JFK Runway 5k.


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