Above:  Achilles Moscow celebrated their 25th Anniversary in 2014.
Right now, the chapter is training hard for the Russian Para Games 2015 Festival
which will be held September 7th - 12th.

Achilles Heel
September 2015

Welcome to the start of fall! It's our busiest time of the year. After a great summer, we are gearing up for several big events, including marathon season.

September begins with Tom McGrath's Third Annual Ultramarathon Run for Achilles Kids. Tom is running 100 miles through the 5 Boroughs to encourage people to contribute $30 or more for our kids' running shoes. Our program has been around since 1995 and grows every year. For those kids who complete a "virtual marathon" (yes, 26.2 miles) during the school year, we award a new pair of running shoes. For many, this is the first pair of new running shoes they have ever owned. For our Achilles Kids Program to remain successful, we need to purchase 7,500 pairs of shoes for this 2015-2016 school year. Last year, we purchased 6,366 pairs of shoes which, if lined up toe-to-toe, is ONE MILE OF SHOES!! Cumulatively, Achilles Kids have run well over 250,000 miles this year alone!! Almost the distance to the moon! Mind-boggling.

A second important event is the Disneyland Half-Marathon Weekend in Los Angeles. In conjunction with Cigna, we are sending a team of Achilles Kids and other members to compete in various races.

In October, we will participate in the Terry Fox Run in Central Park. Terry and I have a special connection. The night before he was to lose his leg to cancer, his basketball coach gave him a photo of me running in the NYC Marathon in 1976. According to his mom, Terry remarked: "If this old guy can run a marathon on one leg, then I can run a marathon every day!" Eventually, Terry ran more than 3,300 miles across Canada and raised $25 Million for cancer research before succumbing to cancer. To date, his foundation has raised several hundred million for cancer research.

Later in October, we are sending teams to Valhalla to run the "Race for Rehab", an annual event since 2000. It is an Achilles fundraiser which has so far raised over $100,000 for Achilles. On October 11th, Achilles FREEDOM TEAM (FT) will compete in the Chicago Marathon. A week later, I will join them and compete in Detroit. General Motors invites dozens of FT members who have the opportunity to enjoy one of the absolute favorite weekends ever. We complete October with approximately 60 Achilles members running the Marine Corp Marathon.

November 1st follows with the New York City Marathon. It will be my 3rd marathon of the season and I will be competing with over 250 Achilles members from approximately 30 countries and 50 chapters. It is one of the most exciting events of the year and especially great in as much as back in 1983 when we started Achilles, we had only 6 members. In 1984 we increased the number to 13 and by 1985, 25 members. I remember at that time being very concerned, wondering about the following year and questioning, would we have enough members with disabilities to increase our size? Or will this be our biggest ever, numbers wise?

Finally, on November 15th, I am proud to say, we will be the first non-profit running organization to set up a chapter in Cuba! We are also sending a team to compete in the Havana Marathon.

On November 18th, upon returning from Cuba, I will celebrate my 75th birthday! I look forward to the next 25 years!

Thanks to everyone who helps make Achilles the success we are today!


Achilles Kids is grateful and excited to announce a sponsorship by
Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson, which is known world-wide for their commitment to healthy children and healthy families, will underwrite the costs of 800 pairs of sneakers for Achilles Kids who complete the virtual marathon in their adaptive physical education classes during the school year. We can think of no better way to reward a year's worth of hard work than with a brand new pair of sneakers - often the nicest item the children have ever received. Thanks Johnson & Johnson for your unwavering commitment to helping children of all abilities be active and achieve!

Achilles Kids, the Freedom Team, chapter athletes from New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and Cigna customers from our innovative customer referral program will be participating in the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna September 3rd - 6th. Athletes, accompanied by their Cigna and other guides, will compete in the 5K, 10K and Half Marathon. This is our first trip to Disneyland and we are excited to bring our special brand of Cigna/Achilles magic out west! 

September 3rd - 6th: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna
September 13th: NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile
October 31st: NYRR Dash to the Finish

To find out more about Tom's Run for Achilles Kids, please check out our 


CONGRATULATIONS TO ACHILLES WISCONSIN on their 10-year anniversary!! We asked Kim Virden, "Team Wisconsin" President, how it all started:

"While enjoying a ski trip to Colorado 10 years ago I picked up Trisha Meili's book "I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope & Possibility". As soon as I returned home I googled "Achilles Track Club" and found out more about this awesome group for disabled athletes. So I found the Achilles website and was disappointed there were no chapters in Wisconsin. One call to Achilles New York and I was kind of hooked. Next thing you know it, I'm making my first trip ever to New York City and running in the annual Hope & Possibility® 5 Miler in Central Park. One month later - bang! I started my group in Madison, WI. We now refer to it as "Team Wisconsin". I've sent many, many folks to NYC to participate in the H&P race as well as the NYC Marathon - my athletes call both experiences 'Life Changers'."

Above: Kim Virden, President Achilles WI, wearing
10-year anniversary commemorative t-shirt.


Erica is a Certified Genetic Counselor, building her own practice and training "the next generation of Genetic Counselors" at Sarah Lawrence College. She has been a volunteer with Achilles since March 2013 during which time she has run the NYC Marathon twice; participated in the Hope & Possibility® "Blind Challenge" (2014) as well as run Disney World Half-Marathon, which she describes as: "(being inthe happiest place in the world, with the happiest person on earth: Sarah Heller!" Thank you, Erica.
To read more about Erica, please click here.

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

Chapter Happenings &
Upcoming Events in September

Achilles Brooklyn is participating in the Music That Heals 5K in Prospect Park, Brooklyn on Sunday September 27th at 10:00am. Please register online or email Nicoletta Nerangis with any questions.  
Erin Spaulding, president of Achilles CT chapter was selected as one of 10 athletes comprising the 2015 Aiello Inspiration Team as part of the Eversource Hartford Marathon. Also selected was Adam Osmond, one of our amazing guides! The Aiello Inspiration Team recognizes individuals who have made positive contributions to their communities and who are running the Hartford Marathon on Oct. 10 event on behalf of a charity or cause.

Achilles Madison Wisconsin will be celebrating their 10-year anniversary with a big Reunion Party on September 13th. Fantastic news! Special shirts were designed and ordered to commemorate the occasion. 
Check out Achilles Mongolia Facebook page for information on their upcoming Hope & Possibility® Race on September 13th, 2015. If anyone is interested in joining the race and visiting Mongolia contact
Achilles Nashville celebrated the 70th birthday of their long-time board member and volunteer guide, Peter Pressman, on August 12th. With over 150 people in attendance from Achilles and the Nashville Striders Running Club, they threw the biggest birthday bash ever while still incorporating their weekly three-mile run! They met many new people who were not familiar with the chapter but are now very interested in participating. Achilles Nashville owes so much to Peter Pressman and all the work he does to make sure all of the races around Nashville allow guides for athletes as well as early race starts for our handcyclists and racing chair athletes. Peter also provides amazing race course support and guidance as a member of Nashville Hope and Possibility® board each year. Thank you Peter!
GENEROSITY NYC is a multi-charity event in which Achilles New York City is participating. On November 8th in Riverside Park, NYC, 25 dedicated Achilles supporters will take part in the fundraising race for the first time. If you can commit to raising a minimum of $200 to support Achilles NYC, please register as an individual participant. E-mail Ellie with any questions.
Achilles Westchester plans to participate in a local 5K in Mt Kisco on September 20th. It will be the chapter's first local race since they started the chapter in May. We are very excited for them and hope word will spread and more will join! Best of luck, Achilles Westchester!

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.

Above:  Achilles Nashville with Nashville Striders Running Club celebrating Peter Pressman's 70th birthday . Below: Achilles Mongolia Board Members meeting for workout and making plans for their big Hope & Possibility® Race in September. (They are expecting around 6,000 runners!)



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