Achilles Heel
June - July 2015


This past Sunday, on June 28th, we celebrated our 13th Hope & Possibility® event!


How it all began: Fifteen years ago, we had an idea...The Achilles Marathon. The thought was to re-create the four-plus loops (6 miles each) of Central Park, which was the original NYC Marathon course from 1970 - 1975. Henry Stern, Parks Commissioner at the time, observed we knew nothing about conducting a race and should practice in Prospect Park. Then, when proficient, bring it to Central Park. So, on April 1st 2001, the Achilles Marathon began in Prospect Park.


It was an awful day. Bitterly cold at around 33 degrees with 1.5 inches of rain. The event wasn't successful. The weather hurt us and many, including me, had difficulty counting the loops - the timing system didn't work. The following year, we moved the event to April 15th in the hopes it might be warmer. It wasn't. Again, we experienced terrible 33 degree temperatures and torrential rain. I remember literally shaking from the cold and rain after the event.


We approached the Parks Commissioner to bring the event to Central Park and he agreed. He surprised us by insisting on a five-miler - which ended up being to our benefit. Trisha Meili, our Board Chair, was coming out with a book titled: "I am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility." I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful to focus the race on the concept of Trisha's book: "Hope and Possibility."It worked! The first Hope & Possibility® was very symbolic. The course included the 102nd Street transverse where Trisha had been left for dead more than a decade earlier. She was taking back what had been stolen from her and leading the way for hundreds of other runners.


Trisha reclaimed the park. She took back her life. Her book was a NY Times bestseller and the race grew from several hundred in 2002 to this past weekend when we sold out at over 5,000. 





Achilles NYC brought a sea of neon-yellow and orange to this year's Hope & Possibility®. Over 50 athletes and 100 guides met at 7:30AM to participate in the 5-miler. Although bright and early, and a little bit wet, there was no lack of enthusiasm for the coming race. Everybody was ready to wheel, walk, run, or jog through their home turf in Central Park. Special thanks goes to Bombas socks for donating 200 socks for our athletes to wear. Everybody sported their black and yellow Bombas socks with pride as they worked their way up just one last hill to the finish line. And what a finish line it was! This year, Achilles NYC athletes Eleanor Chapman, Jill Shreier, Htoo Naing, Tucker Salovaara, and Jessica Hayon were all awarded winners in their division. In a glorious haze of post-race pride and scrambled eggs, Achilles NYC and friends gathered for a fundraising brunch organized by Mary Koutrakos at Dorrian's Red Hand Restaurant. While drinking, eating, and celebrating the 13th annual Hope & Possibility®, it was clear to see that this year's race was a huge success. Thank you to all of the athletes who participated and all of the guides who volunteered - you guys made it an incredible day! 


® 2015

The Achilles Freedom Team was out in full force for the 13th Annual Hope & Possibility® weekend. We hosted 32 wounded and injured servicemen and women; 16 current inpatients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center; 13 Walter Reed 'graduates' and three incredible survivors from the Boston Marathon bombings. Starting with a speedboat ride on the Hudson (everyone, ride The Beast this summer!) and a special visit to the 9/11 Museum, the team enjoyed NYC hospitality throughout the weekend. Our immense thanks to General Newton and the generous members of the Union League Club for hosting the team and their families all weekend long. Thank you to our Chevrolet family, Yankee Bus, and the staff at Walter Reed for making this Hope & Possibility® weekend so powerful and inspiring.



United Cerebral Palsy NYC ۰ RSDSA
Initiative for Women with Disabilities ۰  Odyssey House
Elizabeth Police Department and Team Kevin Strive
JP Morgan ۰ First Care ۰ Learning Spring School
Shake Shack ۰ RUSC ۰ GM 
Achilles Ottawa ۰ Achilles CT ۰ Achilles Philly 
Achilles Westchester ۰ 
Achilles Brazil

And of course, a big thanks to all the groups that traveled near and far including Canada, Poland, Brazil, Cuba, and many other places!!





Meaghan has been a volunteer with Achilles since 2011. Like many of our great volunteers, Meaghan started as a bystander cheering Achilles athletes to becoming a guide and running marathons with us. To read more about Meaghan (and her love for underwater hockey!) please click here.


"Everyone is so inspiring in their own way....(Achilles) It is a great way for such a diverse set of people to come together, motivate each other to reach their goals, and make running or walking a team sport." Meaghan Reilly.


Thanks, Meaghan.


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

with Karen Lewis



26.2, 10K, 5K, 100 meters. These are all numbers that are important to the running community. Here are some numbers that are important to Achilles Kids:


- 10,000 (Achilles Kids members)

- 200 (Achilles Kids school chapters)

- 14 (states where Achilles Kids have a presence)

- 6,366 (number of sneakers presented to Achilles Kids who completed the 26.2 mile "virtual marathon" this year).


6,366It's hard to wrap your head around that number. But if you stacked them up, they would reach almost 1/2 mile...10 city blocks. Mind-boggling!


But even more mind-boggling is the determination and dedication of our kids who ran/walked laps all throughout the year to reach their goal of 26.2 miles. It was a thrill to see so many of our kids cross that finish line and receive their hard-earned sneakers. I had the joy AND privilege of attending sneaker presentations and "last lap" events in schools all over the eastern half of the U.S. - from Providence, RI, to Nashville, TN, Talladega, AL, Indianapolis, IN, Glen Burnie, MD and all over NYC, LI and Westchester. It's been AMAZING! Literally miles of smiles. There are no words to capture the thrill and excitement, seeing the kids proudly accept their sneakers to the cheers of their teachers, classmates, families and friends. Or to capture how proud we are of all our Achilles Kids athletes! And how grateful we are to all the teachers and staff members who make our program possible!


Lastly, we want to thank Saucony for giving us a big discount on the awesome sneakers for our Achilles Kids marathoners. All 6,366 pairs!

San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon 2015 

The Achilles Freedom Team had a large presence in Competitor's Group San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on May 31st. Twenty-three athletes rocked the course and we all had a super fun time! Freedom Teamer Toran Gaal took first place in the handcycle division! What a great way to kick-off his "Ride Across America" the following day. Big thanks to the dedicated and kind staff at Balboa Naval Hospital, Bank of America for the generous pre-race dinner at Dick's Last Resort, and the Bank of America Affinity Group members whose efficiency seems effortless. 


Chapter Happenings &
Upcoming Events in June




BROOKLYN RENAISSANCE - June 7th was a thrilling day for Achilles Brooklyn. More than 18 athletes and guides ran the Kenny Dolan 5K in Prospect Park - an annual Brooklyn event for over 20 years. Race director Louis Vasquez, also director of Icahn Stadium, invited us to the post-race party, and he awarded each of us a medal and welcomed us to return every year. Everyone was so excited: hot dogs, hamburgers, live band, beer, face painting, and a special award besides celebrating Michael Ring's birthday - the Achilles guide-turned-athlete who inspired this chapter's launch. The first race since our Achilles Brooklyn launch was an unexpected pleasure. 



ACHILLES BRAZIL is one of our most active international chapters. It is a unique and successful group of members who are enriching lives through their Saturday workouts and almost weekly events. Twenty-three AWD members of Achilles Brazil ran the San Paulo Half-Marathon on June 14th, 2015. Congratulations Achilles Brazil!



The Achilles Para-triathlon Season is underway with our tandem workouts gaining momentum every week. Come and join us every Saturday in Central Park. Tandem training is provided for all new cyclists so no previous experience is necessary.


The Achilles NYC Para-triathlon Team works out weekly at the JCC of Manhattan. Athletes with disabilities are paired with guides to coach their swim technique. From learning to float, to training for an Ironman, our athletes are supported to achieve all their athletic goals.


To get involved, please contact



On May 23rd ACHILLES JAPAN celebrated its 20th Anniversary which was attended by representatives from their biggest sponsor - Japan Standard BankYasunori Takeuchi, CEO, Mark Devadason, former CEO Japan/Asia and Katsuya Suzuki, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, and many other guests and media. Various people gave inspirational speeches including Mr. Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, Chapter President, Roy Bishowjit and Yuichi Takahashi - Gold Medalist, Marathon, Athens Paralympic. The following day, the celebration was completed by 20K, 10K and 5K races and delicious bento boxes, a picnic and music. We currently have 180 members in our Japan chapter. Congratulations again Achilles Japan on your great achievements!



  • July 4th: Achilles Nashville will take part in the annual Firecracker 4000
  • July 18th: Achilles Kids Fun Run
  • July 19th: NYC TriThis year, we have 10 Charity Entrants who will participate alongside Achilles athletes. These wonderful charity entrants help raise funds to support the Tri Team. A big thanks to you all! 

Anna Kiefer, President of our Washington DC Chapter, sent us this wonderful note from one of our DC Chapter athletes:

"There are people like you that people like me appreciate. You are a kind and caring, beautiful person throughout and I am extremely grateful for knowing you as I do. Because of you I have something to look forward to; have new friends; feel better mentally and physically. I don't know how many people thank you for what you do for people like me, but I find the need to let you know how I feel and to say thank you. You're very special and I'm blessed to know you as much as my PTs, OTs, STs. I've learned a lot since my stroke about other people and I am lucky for that. THANK YOU!!!" ~ Steve Fisher, Washington, DC area stroke survivor


DON'T FORGET our Guaranteed Charity Entrant program for 2015. We have slots available for:


Bank of America Chicago Marathon

TCS NYC Marathon


For more details, please email SarahTel 973 615 7375.



Mark your calendar if you are applying to guide an Achilles athlete in the NYC Marathon on November 1, 2015. 

The specific NYC Marathon Guide Application will go up on our website under the volunteer section beginning July 15th through August 14th.
Achilles Chapter Leaders: If you have members participating in the marathon who plan on running with guides from your chapter, please submit their guide application between July 1st and July 14th. Eleanor Cox and Gerle Shagdar will send you the specific link on July 1st.

Photo credits: many of our photos are courtesy of the great, talented, always helpful and very dedicated, Larry Sillen. Thank you, Larry, for being there for us over three decades!