Achilles Heel
January 2015


During January, the wise place to be was Florida! We participated in three major events: the Palm Beach Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon and the Miami Marathon. What is of particular interest for me is how the number of Achilles members continues to grow. Can you believe we had 72 Achilles members competing in the Miami Marathon? They represented several chapters throughout the U.S. and 21 members from nine different countries around the world. This all happened without promotion to increase our size. I feel that our future rests in increasing the number of active members, creating new chapters and adding more countries to become part of Achilles.


Of particular delight was a recent purchase of 10,000 medals for our Achilles Kids. This program is in hundreds of schools throughout thirteen States in the U.S. The kids run with their Adaptive Physical Education classes and monitor the distances completed. As each child reaches 13.1 miles, they are awarded a medal. In addition to this Half Marathon challenge, in the spring, we anticipate awarding 5,000 pairs of running shoes to Achilles Kids who have completed a total of 26.2 miles by June.


We are giving children with disabilities an opportunity to ACHIEVE! I believe that this success improves self-esteem and confidence. It also generates the thought: "What else can I achieve?"



On January 7thten Achilles Kids from New York City, all of whom are on the autism spectrum, and part of the
Cigna® "World of Difference Grantees", traveled with their families to Walt Disney World® in Florida. Our Kids participated in the Family Fun Run 5K as part of the runDisney Marathon weekend. They had an exhilarating time, whizzing through Epcot with their steadfast Cigna guides. When they weren't reaching a PR (Personal Record) or speeding past a Disney character, Achilles Kids and their families were lounging by the pool, riding Space Mountain, or dining in Magic Kingdom.


The rest of the Achilles team consisted of athletes from a broad range of Achilles programs. We had chapter members from New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, as well as members of the Freedom Team. Also participating were members of the Cigna/Achilles customer referral program, which helps Cigna customers who are receiving long-term disability benefits enrich their life by participating in a training program. Cigna provided all the guides for every race!
Freedom Team member, and double-amputee, MSG Cedric King was the star of the weekend, as he became the first Achilles athlete to complete the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Dopey Challenge: He completed the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon, ambulatory, on his running blades. In his Full Marathon, Cedric was guided by Cigna CEO David Cordani and Tyrrell Schmidt.


All Achilles athletes, family, and staff lodged at Shades of Green, a Walt Disney World Resort for military families.


Many thanks to Shades of Green, Veterans Airlift Command, U-Haul, and runDisney for their continued support and hard work.

This weekend was made possible by our partnership with Cigna. Their support allowed 34 Achilles athletes from all over the country to cross four finish lines in one weekend. Thank you, Cigna! 


Cigna and Achilles share many core values, most especially a strong belief in the ability of exercise and fitness to help people live more active, engaged lives. In addition, Cigna is sponsoring an ambitious research project that will study the effect of running on children with autism. 
Go Achilles! Go Cigna! Go YOU!


an inspiring young woman


Some very special words from a young Achilles supporter, Sarah Schwartz. Sarah asked for donations to Achilles Kids instead of gifts for her recent Bat Mitzvah. She is truly an inspiring young woman! We asked permission to reprint part of Sarah's letter to us:


"...I am inspired by what you do to help boost the confidence and self-esteem of so many physically challenged people, especially young kids like me, through giving them the opportunity to participate side-by-side with typical athletes. What you do gives them the ability to see beyond any disability, achieve things they may have never thought possible and empowers them to apply that same energy and enthusiasm in all parts of their life. I am so happy to help you provide the needed resources through the fundraising I did at the Miami Kids Triathlon, as part of my Mitzvah Project for my bat mitzvah. I hope one day I might even be able to help as a mentor or guide to another child who needs a little extra help to cross a finish line." - Sarah Schwartz


It is hard to believe Sarah is twelve-years old! She writes with such maturity, wisdom and eloquence. Sarah's words also echo those of Dick Traum, who has always believed that if an athlete with a disability can achieve something great through running, walking or rolling (competing in races too) the possibilities to do other great things in their lives is endless!


We hope Sarah joins us as a guide when she gets a bit older. She has all the qualities we see in so many of our volunteers. Thank you so much, Sarah! 



Achilles has some of the most amazing volunteers, many of whom have been with us for years! We want to recognize them in a special section.To nominate someone, please email Fiona. 


This month, we highlight Team Bill: Harold Chayefsky, Wendy Furtado and Ariel Krieger. Team Bill guides Achilles athlete Bill Reilly.


Below, left - right: Wendy Furtado, Harold Chayefsky, Ariel Krieger & Bill Reilly.


Harold joined Achilles as a guide six years ago this year. He says the experience has been "eye opening and mind expanding" as he gets to know the athletes better. Harold has completed several marathons with Bill.


 Wendy first discovered Achilles watching runners in Central Park with our Achilles signature neon yellow shirts. That was four years ago and she has been a dedicated volunteer ever since. Through Achilles Wendy realized her "passion for working with both children and adults with disabilities." So much so, she changed careers from marketing to teaching special education. Wendy has also completed several marathons with Bill.


Ariel became a volunteer in 2010. She says guiding Bill has taught her "patience and ultimate endurance." Being with Achilles has inspired her to be a better athlete and has completed several marathons and her first Ironman. Ariel adds: "NEVER say "cannot" because it is not in the vocabulary of our athletes!"


To read more about "TEAM BILL", click here.

Upcoming Events 2015


Didn't get into the New York City Triathlon? This is your chance to tri again! The NYC Tri has grown into one of the most prestigious and competitive events in the Northeastern U.S. You may receive guaranteed entry by fundraising for the Achilles Paratriathlon Team. Email Sarah for more details.



On Valentine's Day, February 14th the NYC Chapter will host its "Love Run" in Central Park. Plus, 9 athletes and 18 guides from the Nashville Chapter will be participating in the "Hot Chocolate 5K and 15K" Run. Achilles Pikes Peak is hosting a community meeting Feb. 19th in partnership with Leadership Pikes Peak and Discover Goodwill. The Phoenix Chapter is taking part in the "Phoenix Marathon" at the end of the month and a sponsor will be hosting a dinner for members and volunteers at a local restaurant on Feb. 11th. The Florida Treasure Coast Chapter will be participating in the Care Net 5k on Feb. 28th. As for Houston, the chapter is participating in the "Rhythm & Blues Half Marathon and 5k" on Feb. 15th, but mostly recovering from the recent Houston Marathon!


The Philly Achilles chapter is hosting its first annual Winter Formal on Feb.28th. Food, drinks, dancing and merriment will not only help raise funds for the chapter's upcoming road trip to Nashville & Country Music Half Marathon, but will also promote a sense of community and enhance our presence in Philadelphia. 


The Achilles Kids "Fun Runs" indoors at the JCC will be on Feb 7th & 28th


March: The New York Half Marathon - March 15th


Save these dates for 2015 Hope & Possibility races

April 11  Pittsburgh PA

May 9   Nashville TN 

June 28  New York City 

Date TBD Auckland & Wellington, New Zealand  


Finally a big thank you to everyone who donated to our Lakin Challenge during the month of December. We reached our goal! Thank you to David Greenstein, Neil Mellon and Lakin Tires for making this possible.