Above:  Achilles kids, Cigna customers, and guides at the start village before the Disneyland 5k

Achilles Heel
October 2015

During the past month, we had several interesting and very different celebrations. The first was the 25th Anniversary of Achilles Moscow. When we began, it was the "Soviet Union." Americans were mistrusted and it would have been impossible to begin if it were not for Al Gordon, a founding Achilles Board Member and very prominent businessman who knew Armand Hammer--Armand was very close to the Soviet Union and wrote a letter of introduction when I applied for a travel visa. My application was quickly approved because of an error in translation. Dick Traum was translated as Don Trump. Their excitement was the possibility of my lending them money to build a gas pipeline from Tumen to a site for export. As you can imagine, I was treated like royalty! 

The second special event was the 10th Anniversary for Achilles Wisconsin on Sunday September 13th, hosted by Kim Virden. I was honored to be invited and discuss how Achilles began. For those of you who are not familiar with our story, let me provide a quick summary: After running the 1976 New York City Marathon on an artificial leg, a story was written about me in Runner's World. Terry Fox, a 17 year old amputee with cancer, was inspired by this and consequently ran 3,300 miles across Canada raising funds and awareness about cancer research before he passed. The annual "Terry Fox Run" began as a result. I was invited to participate and the idea of people with disabilities running with the non-disabled population emerged. Achilles began.

Another celebration concerns our Mongolian Chapter. Also on September 13th, they held their first Hope & PossibilityŽ event. Unbelievably, it was attended by 300 members of Achilles Mongolia along with over 3,000 runners. It became the largest road race in the history of the country. The event was spearheaded by Saranchuluun Otgon, a young, inspiring amputee who provided the spark and enthusiasm for this large, vibrant chapter.

Our next great, fun event is Tom McGrath's 100-Mile Run for Achilles Kids. Starting on September 28th through October 2nd, Tom will run 100 miles through the five boroughs. The goal of Tom's run is to raise funds for shoes used in our Achilles Kids Program. Last year, we awarded 6,366 pairs of running shoes to children with disabilities who, during the school year with their Adaptive Physical Education Teachers, complete a total of 26.2 miles. The beauty is that these kids, who typically are not physically active, participate in our sport and become fit. More important, they are introduced to the concept of ACHIEVEMENT and GOALS. Those who complete the distance have a "halo" around their heads. They point at their shoes and explain how they won them. (They earned them!) People see the "halo" and treat them differently.

We buy the shoes, typically worth $100 or more each, for $25 + shipping ($30 each.) At this point, we are more than half-way to our goal with $93,520 - enough for 3,700 pairs. Our goal is 7,500 pairs of running shoes for the 2015 - 2016 school year. If you are interested in supporting our program and Tom's Run, we would love it if you could contribute a few pairs of shoes. Please check out our FirstGiving page for details or just send a check. I feel that this is perhaps the most important cost-effective program anywhere. Imagine helping a child with a disability get into shape with a new pair of running shoes! It would mean so much if you could help us reach our goal. 

Thank you!

Above: Team Dusty gets ready for the Fifth Avenue Mile


Achilles Kids have been running throughout the fall. Our first race was the Fifth Avenue Mile on September 13th. This is always an incredibly exciting opportunity to run down one of the most beautiful blocks in the city supported by cheering crowds. Twenty-five Achilles Kids sped down Fifth Avenue - our largest team yet! Special congratulations to all of the first-time racers of whom we had several. Their enthusiasm was contagious! Thanks to the Achilles Kids volunteers who offered their support to our team. We could not participate in these races without you! Deepest appreciation to Team Leaders Rich Marino and Ken Borelli who helped to coordinate the volunteer pairing right down to the starting gun! Achilles Kids will keep training through September and October. We are looking forward to two fun fall 5ks: The Terry Fox Run and the Dash to the Finish.


Achilles International in Disneyland? What could be more magical! From September 3rd - 6th, Achilles athletes came to California from all over the country to participate in the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, presented by Cigna. Athletes from our Achilles Kids program, the Freedom Team, the New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia chapters, and Cigna customers from our innovative customer referral program all ran alongside Mickey and Minnie for one of the 5K, 10K, or Half Marathon races. Needless to say, it wasn't only the Achilles Kids who had a great time at the happiest place on earth!

Highlights from the weekend include: Achilles Kid, Luke Hickey, dancing with Disney characters before the start of the 5K; NYC athlete and Team Challenge winner Romeo Edmead running a PR of 57:35 in the 10K; and father and son from Achilles Philly, Matt and Adam McAvoy, running their first Half Marathon. No one was more spirited than Cigna customer, Charisma Mustin, wearing her bright pink tutu in the 5K and nothing was more heartwarming than seeing Freedom Team athlete Marcus Chischilly crossing the finish line of the Half Marathon to be greeted by his five year old son cheering him on.

Athletes and guides all finished with smiling faces, excited to spend the day at Disneyland. Thank you to all of our Achilles athletes for making it such a memorable weekend. Thank you to all of our Cigna and Achilles guides for your strength and support. And the biggest thank you to everyone at Cigna for all of your hard work and this truly amazing opportunity. Our first trip to Disneyland was a huge success!

From left to right: Hickey family at the 5k; Freedom Team athlete Marcus Chischilly and his guides at the finish line of the Half; Cigna customer Patricia Pedersen; Achilles athletes and guides at the start village before the Half; Cigna Customer Charisma Mustin.


On Saturday, September 26th, four Nashville athletes (in photo above), traveled to Bowling Green, KY to participate in the Center for Courageous Kids (CCK) 6K and 1 Miler. CCK is a medically based camp that offers week long and weekend family camps to children with life-threatening illnesses.


Nacho Valle, originally from Spain and a volunteer with Achilles since 2014, quickly became immersed in everything we do. He has already completed numerous events with our athletes including being part of our Tri-Team and volunteering with Achilles Brooklyn and New York City.

Thank you, Nacho. 
To read more about Nacho, please click here.

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

Chapter Happenings &
Upcoming Events in Octo

Team Achilles CT will be competing in the Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K on October 10th. We have a team of 21 athletes racing, which includes athletes Carlos Guzman and Ricardo Corral from the NYC Chapter, Amy Saffell and guide Lauren Kollinger from the Nashville Chapter, and Cathy Beaudoin, athlete from Vermont. Erin Spaulding, Chapter President, and Adam Osmond, Achilles CT guide, were named to the Hartford Marathon's Aiello Inspiration Team for their hard work and dedication to Achilles International.

Also on October 14thFleet Feet Sports Stamford is hosting a fundraising and recruitment night for Achilles CT as part of their Community Pub Run Series. Athletes and guides from Southern CT will join forces with the Fleet Feet Running Group and take to the streets (and pubs) of Stamford CT to raise awareness of and funds for Achilles CT!
Finally, eight Achilles CT athletes and their guides will be heading to the starting line of the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon on November 1st.

Our chapter in 
Hamburg, Germany organized a small running event to get more public awareness about Achilles. President of Achilles Germany
Alex Hentzschel provided participants with the running shirts and medals and promised to support the chapter in organizing their first Hope and PossibilityŽ race in Hamburg next year! 

The first ever Hope & PossibilityŽ race was held in Ulaanbaatar (UB) Mongolia and featured around 3,000 runners and over 10,000 spectators. The opening ceremony was attended by the UB Mayor, stars from music and track and the president of the Mongolian Paralympic committee. Please check out our photos here. 
Achilles NYC is raising funds via the Generosity Series. The Generosity NYC 5K takes place on Sunday, November 5th. Each person who picks up the gauntlet commits to raising a minimum of $200 for various NYC chapter programs. We have 12 slots left to fill. Please go to: www.generosityseries.com and sign on to be a contender or contact Ellie at ecox@achillesinternational.org
Achilles DC meets most Sundays at 10am at the Robert A. Taft Memorial, just north of the Capitol. The nearest building is The Charlie Palmer Steakhouse, 101 Constitution Ave NW Washington, DC. Location is accessible by both the red line (Union Station) and green and yellow (National Archive). Workout begins promptly at 10am and lasts for approximately 1 hour. 

Participate in Best Buddies Capital Region Friendship Walk, a 5K on Saturday, Oct 17 at 8:30am. Meet at the Washington Monument.
October 11th - Bank of America Chicago Marathon. We have 16 Achilles athletes participating.

October 17th - Terry Fox Run. We have 17 Achilles Kids participating.

October 18th - Detroit Marathon - 29 Achilles athletes participating. Chevy is sponsoring the Freedom Team.

October 25th - Marine Corp Marathon - 29 Achilles athletes including Freedom Team.

October 31st - Dash To The Finish - So far, we have 17 Achilles Kids participating...and probably more!

November 1st - New York City Marathon - 250 Achilles athletes participating including 25 Freedom Team.
It's never too late to consider your spring race calendar. How would you like Guaranteed Entry to the NYC Half 2016 while still supporting Achilles?? 

For more information please contact  SarahTel 973.615.7375.

Above:  The Indianapolis 500 has NOTHING on our kids at Creston Academy in Indianapolis. Every Achilles Kid has run / walked an astounding FORTY-FIVE MILES in just two months! AMAZING! We can't wait to see how far they go this year.
They're surely heading for an all-time Achilles Kids record!



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