Above: Tom Davis and Freddie De Los Santos training for their upcoming race season. Tom and Freddie are part of the Achilles Elite Team and strong competitors to represent Achilles in the
2016 Paralympics in Rio.
Achilles Heel
February 2016
Many people have reached out to us in the light of news stories about spending patterns at a prominent wounded veterans charity. I wanted to take this opportunity to reaffirm our priorities with our Achilles Freedom Team.

From the first time I entered Walter Reed, I was aware of it as a sacred place. Brave men and women were dedicated to doing the seemingly impossible job of healing - physically and emotionally. Over time, with regular monthly visits by our staff, we grew more comfortable. We looked forward to seeing familiar faces of veterans and their therapists, but we never lost that sense of reverence. That was a place where miracles happened, where wounds of all kinds were salved and the long work of rehabilitation began. The Freedom Team grew out of those visits and a profound determination, born from my own experience as an amputee, that running and handcycling could be a powerful way forward. 

During the past 12 years, the Freedom Team has served over 1,000 wounded veterans. We serve through our area of expertise, which is helping them prepare for and compete in mainstream races. We have stood alongside their spouses, children and parents, and watched these amazing men and women take their first steps. We delighted in witnessing how they are able to achieve, and enjoy a supportive group. We loved all the ribbing and laughter and friendly but heated competitive vibes that they generated.

Like all non-profits, we must raise funds to support our programs. We appreciate that people may feel their trust has been broken because of news about another charity. We hope those feelings will not cause people to curtail their giving to Achilles, because the need to support our veterans is more important than ever. To those who are interested in learning more about how Achilles spends their funds, check out our Charity Navigator page.  We keep our overhead costs low, which is why Charity Navigator awarded us a 93 out of 100 score for financial management. We spend 82 cents of every dollar raised on programs and services. Our fundraising expenses are less than 9 cents of every dollar raised. We pride ourselves on putting our athletes first and engaging with sponsors who have the same priorities. We are here and happy to welcome you to the Achilles Freedom Team family. 

We are hopeful that every group that serves veterans uses these revelations as an opportunity to reconnect with what matters, which is using our particular skills and expertise to help these men and women to heal. This is our obligation, our responsibility, our calling, and our honor.

Achilles has been operating for over 30 years. We are here to stay and our commitment to our Freedom Team is forever. When the dollars and the fanfare and the controversies and the gossip die down we will still be here, doing what we have always done, cheering on the finish line for those who served on our frontlines.  

With gratitude and respect for our men and women in uniform, yesterday, today and tomorrow,


Didn't get selected for the NYC Half on March 20th? Race in support of Achilles NYC!  In exchange for fundraising for our programs, you will receive guaranteed entry into this competitive race. Even race alongside our athletes and their guides!  Email Sarah for more information.

Each year, thousands of athletes brave the waters of the mighty Hudson River before biking along Manhattan's West Side Highway. Finally, athletes put on their running shoes for a run through New York's famed Central Park in the final stage of this iconic race. Support the Achilles Para-Triathlon Team by raising funds for our programs in exchange for guaranteed entry into the 2016 Panasonic NYC Triathlon. Yet another great opportunity to race alongside our athletes and guides competing on race day!  Email Sarah for more details.


Achilles International is proud to announce the launch of our very own e-store! 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

Proceeds go directly back into our programs - enabling athletes with disabilities to compete in mainstream athletics! We are proud to be partnering with Champion System, a company that is known far and wide for their solid commitment to pioneering innovative, race-proven garments that can be customized with virtually any design. Show your support for Achilles International by wearing our branded apparel! 


Thanks to the Cigna Foundation, a large Achilles team had the honor and joy of participating in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, presented by Cigna. Athletes were represented in every race and several Achilles chapters. From our Cigna-Achilles customer referral program, Rob Harrison, Leticia Verduzco-Tom and Christine Malley took part in the 5k and finished with wide smiles. From Philadelphia, the fearless Patricia Crebase tackled the Dopey Challenge and Tom Burke completed his first half-marathon. Cigna CEO David Cordani ran as a guide for Freedom Team member Stefan LeRoy in the half-marathon and for the second year partnered with Cedric King in the full marathon.

The Nashville Chapter brought their smiles, warmth and a suitcase full of tutus to Disney with Lizzy Solomon rocking her first 5k in a handcycle and Theresa Khayyam, Chassity Choate, and Stephanie Zundel triumphing in the half-marathon. The "Ultimate Running Machine" John Pierre along with guides Valerie and Mike Kenney represented New York. Among the Freedom Team, Earl Granville ran his first half-marathon guided by Cigna exec Dave Guilmette. We were honored to have Boston Bombing survivors Marc Fucarile, Patrick Downes and Jess Kensky join our team. Thank you to Gregg Sapp for supplying the Freedom Team with some awesome swag. 

Deepest thanks to the incredible crew at Shades of Green for their warmth and hospitality, especially Sean Schaming who brings his smile and can-do attitude every year. And to the gracious and generous General Manager, Mr. Arnie Cole...there are not enough words to express our gratitude. He makes the Shades of Green our home. Our crew would not be complete without Kelly McGaughey, Deidra Penny, Virginia Redmond, and Roy Griffith. Thanks to the wonderful Antoinette Darrow, Katie Sonntag and John Hughes for making RunDisney run with efficiency and heart. Thanks to all the Cigna guides who ensured that our athletes had a truly magical Disney experience. And most of all, thanks to David Figliuzzi and Ken Seda of the Cigna Foundation, without whose support none of this would be possible.


Achilles Kids has had an awesome winter and made good use of the temperate weather to log lots of miles in Central Park. We are looking forward to competing for the first time in the Washington Heights Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks 5k. Achilles Kids sends our warmest "Get Well" wishes to Achilles photographer Larry Sillen. We wish him a speedy recovery!


by Carrie Redmon, President Achilles Nashville

Achilles Nashville was fortunate enough to be invited to the Walt Disney World Marathon sponsored by Cigna. Many of our athletes and guides have always wanted to participate in a Disney half-marathon. Who doesn't want to run in the happiest place on earth?!

Our athletes accomplished quite a few milestones. Long-time Achilles Nashville athlete, Lizzy Solomon, recently began handcycling. (And by recently we mean three months ago!) She competed in her second 5K as a handcyclist that Thursday morning and what better way to participate in your second race than by racing through Epcot! Three other athletes competed in the half-marathon Saturday morning: Chassity Choate finished her very first half-marathon, while Stephanie Zundel shaved 10 minutes off her PR (personal record.) Long time athlete, Theresa Khayyam, finished her second Disney half-marathon in some brand new running tights compliments of her Cigna guide, Janet Waldron.

We are so grateful to Cigna for choosing our chapter to be a part of this amazing experience. Our Cigna co-guides were so gracious to donate their time and we all had so much fun getting to know each other! It's always nice to make new friends in the running community. We want to send a special thank you to Ellie Cox, Janet Patton and Megan Lombardo for all their hard work coordinating flights, hotels and transportation. It would not have been successful without you ladies!


by Patricia Crebase, Handcyclist

There's never a dull moment with Achilles Philly no matter on the streets or off. November brought the Philadelphia Marathon weekend with an excellent showing by runners and cyclists. We had a fancy dinner that included members of Achilles Pittsburgh and New York Chapters sharing lots of pasta the night before. Special kudos to Angel Otero and Tom Burke on their first appearances at the Rothman 8k! 

Smiles were out in force despite dawn barely lighting the sky! January brought the Disney Marathon Weekend. Achilles Philly sent two athletes: Tom Burke who rolled up in a handcycle for his very first half-marathon and "Yours Truly" (Patricia Crebase) who handcycled the Dopey Challenge. That means FOUR RACES IN FOUR DAYS!! (The 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon.) I blogged about my training and experiences on the Achilles Philly website

Spring holds a new set of challenges: first runs, first races and first friends. Aside from local races like Bookin' for Lookin' and the Broad Street Run, the Philly chapter is planning a trip to Pittsburgh for their April Hope & Possibility® Race. We'll see you on the streets...maybe in your town. Keep an eye out for our green!


Solé has been a very active guide with Achilles since she first joined us in 2012. She has completed several races with Achilles including her first NYC Marathon as a guide in 2015. Thank you, Solé!

"I'd encourage people to just go to the workouts and try it! After a couple of months, it will become a good run with friends. And nothing compares to the adrenaline of a race with a team...the starting line...the cheering...and crossing the finish line together!" - Soledad Lopez
To read more about Soledad, please click here.

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


It is with a heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our beloved Achilles guide, Erica Sanborn.

Erica gave her time, her compassion, and her heart to so many of us at Achilles. She joined our family in spring 2013. Since then she has walked, run, or swam over 1,000 miles next to an Achilles athlete. She has run several marathons, half-marathons, road races, and trained our members to be better runners, swimmers, and people. In the words of one of our athletes: "Erica is the reason I am a faster, smarter, and healthier runner. It stings to lose a friend, a swim coach, and a great person".

Beyond Erica's many professional and academic accolades, what made her special and loved was her ability to make any situation easier, her passion for the activities and people she believed in, and her compassion and patience for others. She was a loyal friend, the hardest worker, and instantly liked by everyone who met her. In the words of her family, she gave this life her all, and we are grateful for all she gave us.

On Saturday January 30th, Achilles NYC held a special 4-mile run in celebration of Erica's life and to honor her spirit. We will miss you, Erica, but you will live on in the steps we take through Central Park for the rest of our lives. You will continue to run with Achilles NYC through every athlete and guide whose lives you touched in so many ways. Our lives are fuller because of you. 

Erica was Achilles "Volunteer of the Month" in September 2015. To learn more about Erica's full and giving life you can read her bio here

Above: Erica with Sarah Heller in Disney 2013 which she described as
"being in the happiest place in the world with the happiest person in the world."


On December 15th Achilles Brazil participated in Sargento Gonzaguinha 15 km run in Sao Paulo. Fifteen Achilles Brazil members ran to honor Sao Paulo Military Police and to show their appreciation. 

Sunday March 13th Achilles Seventeenth St. Patrick's Day 5K Race. Achilles Canada welcomes new sponsor Cigna to this amazing event. 1,500 participants including 150 Achilles members are expected! The goal is to raise $100,000. For more information, click here!

A few Achilles CT athletes and guides are braving the New England weather and participating in the 2016 soundRUNNER Winter Warrior Challenge. To earn the status #WinterWarrior, they must run/walk outside every day for 31 days in January! To kick off the New Year and this challenge, some athletes and guides ran in the "Frosty 5K" and the "Chilly Willy Half Marathon." They are not letting the cold and snow in New England slow them down...much. Achilles CT is proud to partner with Physician's Physical Therapy in West Haven, CT and VISTA. Both organizations will be forming running groups with Achilles CT and training for chapter kick-off races in April (when the snow and ice finally melt!) Finally, the Achilles CT Chapter is excited to announce the date of the 1st Annual Hope & Possibility® race on August 21st. They welcome members from other Achilles Chapters....Connecticut is a great destination for a race....especially in the summer!

On December 27th Achilles Cuba celebrated the end of the year with a run in Havana from Ciudad Deportiva to the Casa de la Trova, the municipality. It was a celebration of their great achievements in such a short time! Achilles Cuba was created in November 2015 in collaboration with ACLIFM (La Asociación Cubana de Limitados e Impedidos Físicos Motores - The Cuban Association of Physically Handicapped) bringing joy, motivation, friendship, and uniting many disabled and able-bodied people. Congratulations Achilles Cuba!

A special mention for Achilles Germany which was established in 2011 and now has the following local chapters: 

Chapters do bi-weekly workouts, participate in the local races, and meet in Munich for their annual Hope & Possibility® Race. Many members travel abroad to join other Achilles chapters. 

Achilles Houston just competed in the Houston Marathon on Sunday January 17th! Check out this great article!

The chapter also has an information session concerning the March 28th UNESCO Marathon in Italy. They were invited to attend, covering ALL expenses for 3 people and providing a sweet deal for seven more. Watch this space for details on their participation!

Happy 3rd "Birthday" Achilles Houston on January 31st.

7th Annual Endurance Sport Education Night
On February 16th between 6 pm and 9 pm at Rockefeller University join 1,000 fellow athletes at the 7th annual Endurance Sport Education Night Presented by Jordan D. Metzl, in conjunction with Runner's World! Attend and be inspired during an exceptional panel that will include several familiar Achilles faces - Motivating the Masses for a Greater Cause: A Discussion with Kat Bateman of Achilles International; athletes John Young of the Achilles Paratriathlon team and Boston Chapter, and Charles Edouard Catherine of the Paratriathlon team and NYC Chapter. They will speak of their journeys to athletic and personal success! It will be an Incredible Evening of Fun, Community Learning, and fun Swag for Runners and Triathletes of All Ages.

RSVP is necessary. Register HERE for the Wait list! 

JOIN OUR ACHILLES FACEBOOK PAGES to be up to date on what's happening in our New York City community and other parts of the US and Internationally

Achilles Utah is revitalized! Under the guidance of Ken Duke and Jan Smith, twelve Achilles athletes and twelve volunteers are training for the Utah Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay which will be held in June 2016. This iconic 200(ish) mile overnight running relay course begins in Northern Utah in the city of Logan and traverses across the back of Utah's rough and tough Wasatch Mountains. Teams will find their inner wild as they cross three mountain passes, pass fields of summer wildflowers, run beneath millions of stars, and cross the finish line together at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. Sponsors for the relay include Abram's Plumbing, Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay, Show & Tell AV Solutions, NFB Utah, Intermountain Realty Group, and more. 

February 16th: 7th Annual Endurance Sport Education Night at Rockefeller University 6 pm - 9 pm. Register HERE for the Wait list!

March 6th: NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K, Achilles Kids

March 13th: - Achilles Canada 17th Annual Achilles St. Patrick's Day 5K Race. Help them reach their $100,000 goal! For more information, please click here. 

March 20th: NYC Half

Above, Top: And they're off! Start line at the Sargento Gonzaguinha 15k in Sao Paulo. Achilles Brazil member Edson Santi on the right, who finished NYC marathon last year; 2nd Row, Left: Active member of Achilles Munich Wolfgang Vogl took part in the New Year's 31RUN-Capaodanno Milano, Italy. He finished the 5K race in one hour with Haki Doku (in wheelchair), President, Achilles Milano, Italy; Right: Achilles Cuba in a celebratory race in December; 3rd Row: Big hugs and congratulations to Wolfgang and Haki; Segei Pekhterev and Valerii Krulikovskyi play in hockey team of Moscow "Phoenix". Achilles and the NYC marathon changed their lives and started their success story. Bottom Right: Sergei Pechterev, at mile 1 of the NYC Marathon.



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