2016 Boston Marathon: Team Achilles with special VIP guest Mark Wahlberg. (Photo courtesy of Joseph Kelly.)
Achilles Heel
May 2016
You don't have to be an athlete to be a member of Achilles.... There is a misconception that people with disabilities have to be fit, fast and a marathoner before joining. It's easy to see why. We have many incredible athletes running marathons, triathlons, and other major events throughout the world. Seeing members in their signature Achilles neon-yellow shirts competing on a large scale, people see the success...the achievements...and not always the whole story. Not everyone started out athletic, including me.

I was not always a marathoner. My first exposure to running after losing my leg was in 1975. A colleague, with whom I had worked at the American Management Association, noticed my limp and that I was quite overweight. Concerned about my health after a mutual friend had a heart attack in his late 30s, my colleague suggested I join the YMCA. Great idea! I was a bit intimidated as so many in the fitness group were already very active and fit...they were like "jocks" to my inactive self. I immediately thought "this exercise stuff is not for me!" I remembered an ad for Levy's Jewish rye bread that stated: "you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy our bread!" So here I was with one leg in the trenches amongst so many able-bodied athletes. I realized I did not have to be the same to enjoy an exercise program. I would find my own pace; my own rhythm and what works.

We have a number of world class athletes at Achilles, competing at incredible paces - Freddie De Los Santo, Owen Daniels, Travis Wood and Tom Davis are all "Elite" level athletes and members of the Achilles Freedom Team. Tom is preparing for the 2016 Paralympics and a perfect example of a world class Achilles athlete. He joined the army in 2002. Four years later, on his second deployment to Iraq, his vehicle was destroyed by a road-side bomb and he was severely wounded. Tom spent 15 months in rehab at Walter Reed where he was introduced to handcycling. Achilles helped get him motivated to do marathons. Since 2012, Tom has won 12 marathons and 5 National Championships. He is a member of the USA Paracycling Team and has eight top six finishes on the world stage. Today, Tom trains 2 - 4 hours a day, 6 days a week with the hopes of competing in the 2016 Paralympics. Our amazing Jacqui Kapinowski, an Achilles athlete who helps run our South Florida office, just qualified for the Paralympics and will be competing in Brazil! Way to go, Jacqui!

Others enjoy a different pace, like Andrea DeMello, one of our first members. At a young age, she had a stroke and walked with a cane. She became an Achilles member in 1985 and began her workouts in Central Park. She is a great example of someone beginning at a certain pace only to exceed it and find an optimum rhythm. Like many Achilles members just starting out, Andrea's initial goal was to walk to a lamppost several yards away. And then, her goal was to walk to a second lamppost... It was a grueling task. She stopped. Rested. She then took on a third. It was a huge achievement! Andrea turned around and could not believe the distance she had covered. The walk back was faster. When she finished, Andrea had the grin of someone who had just completed their first marathon. Andrea continued to work out and competed in one-mile and two-mile races. She became stronger and began to enjoy our sport. Today, nineteen marathons later, Andrea is a perfect example of an Achilles member who became an Achilles athlete.

Another great example of an Achilles member-turned-athlete, is my dear friend Sr. Mary Gladys. To date, Sr. Gladys has completed 35 marathons, at first jogging at her best pace and finishing under six hours. Now, at age 84 and one of our "Achilles Elders", she competes in a handcycle. The New York City Marathon is her favorite day of the year.

These are just a few examples of the amazing achievements of Achilles members. The common denominator is that everyone can participate and enjoy...whatever their pace: fast, or not so fast. Everyone can become part of the mainstream. Each member finds the pace and distance that works best and pushes the limits of their abilities.

So, if you're not already a member of Achilles and you wonder, do you have to be fit or fast before joining? You don't have to be an athlete to be part of Achilles. But as you can see, you might just become one!


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.

REGISTER NOW for our 14th Annual Hope & Possibility« race at its new distance - 4 miles!! The race, on Sunday June 26th, is a NYC Marathon Qualifier - so this is a quick and easy stop on your road to 9 + 1! Finishers will receive medals as well as various prizes for several categories and raffle open to all finishers.

Register today to secure your spot! We think this one is going to go fast! 

DO YOU WANT TO BE PART OF OUR STORY?? Tell us what "Hope & Possibility" means to you.
Here's how:
  • Register for Hope & Possibility«
  • Then, tell us in 300 words or less what "Hope & Possibility" means to you.
  • Top stories will receive a fabulous Achilles jacket...and you may be included in a news story!
Send stories to FIONA and check out our NEW Hope & Possibility« Facebook page for more details.

- for the second year in a row, Mary Koutrakas and Michael Boyd are hosting a special post-H&P fundraising brunch at Dorrian's Red Hand Restaurant. You don't have to participate in the race to attend the brunch, so spread the word (and event link!!!) Tickets must be purchased in advance no later than Friday, June 24th. Space is limited to 100, so hurry. This event was sold out and at capacity last year. To purchase tickets, click the Eventbrite link

Brunch tickets are $25 and include unlimited hot brunch buffet, coffee and Eventbrite fees. Cash and credit cards will be accepted for all other beverages on-site. There will be auctions for chances to take home some fantastic merchandise and gift certificates as well as a 50/50 Raffle with the proceeds to benefit

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 race 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 a guaranteed entry into the 2016 Panasonic NYC Triathlon. Yet another great opportunity to race alongside our athletes and guides competing on race day! Email Kat for more details.


Achilles International hosted 30 athletes for the 120th Boston Marathon the weekend of April 16th. Our New York, Connecticut, Colorado and Boston chapter athletes were nicely represented and 20 were members of our Freedom Team. We are grateful for the tremendous support from our newfound brothers at the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Foundation. Dan Magoon - we cannot thank you enough!

Also, heartfelt thanks to CIGNA and CEO David Cordani who served as a Guide, to Chevrolet which sponsors the FREEDOM TEAM in marathons throughout the year, Veteran's Airlift Command - the owners and pilots - who give of their resources and time to fly team members, the First Responders of the City of Boston and the State of Massachusetts who were present throughout the weekend to roll out the red carpet everywhere we went. We deeply appreciate the generosity of Yankee Bus Company which enables us to travel to Boston as a team in accessible comfort and style and Stella Restaurant for hosting our swanky post-race celebration!

This was a powerful and healing year for the city of Boston as evidenced by the weekend participation of our adopted Freedom Team members and bombing survivors Marc Fucarile, Patrick Downes and Jess Kensky. We are so honored to have their voices representing people with disabilities in the running community.

Our team was welcomed with open arms by many military supporters brought together by our amazing and loyal Boston champion, Jeremy Fucile.

We cannot wait to come back next year and appreciate all of the inspiration and encouragement that you provide the athletes and families we serve!


On April 17th, thirty athletes participated in the Second Annual "Ain't No Stopping us Now" Indoor Triathlon at Chelsea Piers Sports Center in support of Achilles International. The sprint triathlon consisted of 20 lengths snake swim, 12 miles on a spin bike and a 3 mile run on the indoor track. All in all, the day was a huge success!

A big congratulations to Asim Baig, our Achilles visually impaired participant and his guide, Lars Brekken, winning the para-triathlete wave! Well done Asim and good luck at the Lake Placid Ironman this coming August! In addition, big congrats to Peter Bremberg, another Achilles athlete and friend for his excellent sportsmanship! Peter, we wish you great success in your new job as a hedge fund COO! Eli Adler, a Full Throttle Endurance triathlete and options trader at Marathon LLC, won the male wave. Congrats! Ruben Beillard, an ex-Marine and co-owner of Warrior Fitness Bootcamp, came in a close 2nd
 place. For the female wave, fitness instructor extraordinaire, Arwen Lawson, took home 1st place! Great job to all!

In total, this event raised close to $6,000 in support of the Achilles Paratriathlon team. Thank you to Chelsea Piers and Josh Fly, fitness manager for hosting. Thank you to Danny Viera, Full Throttle Endurance triathlon coach for organizing the race day. Thank you to all the volunteers, and especially to all who donated and participated in the event. The biggest thank you goes to Susie Abadi who is the mastermind behind the event. With her positive attitude, charming smile, and commitment to excellence, she brought this event to light. We couldn't be more grateful. We are so lucky to have you as part of the Achilles family!


by Nicoletta Nerangis
Achilles Brooklyn had an amazing and emotional 1st Year Anniversary turnout on Thursday April 21st. Mark Shortliffe, an Achilles Brooklyn guide said, "starting with Achilles Brooklyn a year ago was one of the happiest decisions of my life." Michael Ring, Achilles athlete, wrote a very emotional, personal tribute to Achilles: "Two years ago life handed me a lot of lemons.. a lot... I knew I needed to make lemonade. In addition to lemons you need sugar. This group, Achilles Brooklyn, has been the sugar - without it I couldn't have made the lemonade." On his first workout with Achilles Brooklyn in Prospect Park, Michael realized how unsafe it was for athletes and guides with cars allowed in the park. He was inspired to start a petition to Mayor de Blasio. The Mayor listened and, thanks to Michael, put a stop to cars in the park......It is an honor for me to be part of the Achilles Family. It has opened my world to a lot more love!! Thank you, Nic, for leading this wonderful chapter through a great first year!
Achilles Brooklyn workouts are every Thursday night in Prospect Park, meeting through the Garfield Place entrance at 6:25pm. Meet up at JackRabbit is at 6pm, 151 7th Ave. Nicoletta's cell: 917-627-2811. Email: achillesbklyn@gmail.com


We are thrilled to announce an exciting addition to our Achilles family - Achilles Queens just started thanks to Wendy Phaff and Kelly DiNola, co-chapter leaders. Workouts are every Sunday at 10 am at Al Oerter Recreation Center, 131-40 Fowler Ave, Flushing NY 11355. For more information, please email Wendy and Kelly at achillesqueens@gmail.com


"CHECK IT OUT" - De ROSA's "DO SOMETHING" CONCERT FUNDRAISER FOR ACHILLES NYC: Tom DeRosa and his band De Rosa" are gearing up for their first ever "Do Something" Concert to benefit Achilles New York Chapter. Come and join us on Thursday May 19th at Mad River Bar & Grille NYC - 7:00 PM until 10:00 PM. The band is made up of many of our Achilles friends... Tom DeRosa, Achilles athlete / singer / songwriter; Mary Crouch, Achilles guide / singer / percussionist Greg Cho, Achilles guide / bassist and Robert Weeks, Achilles athlete / drummer, plus Joe Raposo, Jr., keyboardist / vocalist.

Go to Eventbrite to learn more about De Rosa and to purchase tickets.


For the past three years, Tricia has been a regular at Achilles workouts and several big races, guiding many of our athletes. She is one of our most active volunteers. Thank you, Tricia!
"It's really a great experience. It teaches you a lot about living life to the fullest and realizing your blessings. Achilles teaches the joy that can be gained from helping others reach their goals and celebrating the accomplishments of others" - Tricia
To read more about Tricia, please click here.

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


On April 3rd Achilles Colombia held their annual race "Presta tu Pierna" (Lend your Leg). Over 4,000 people participated and crossed the finish line including 1,100 athletes with disabilities. Most of the disabled athletes were landmine victims, including over 300 amputees from 20 different regions in Colombia. The race was sponsored by the US Embassy in Bogota and the INL (International Narcotics and Law Enforcement bureau.) A team of twelve US Achilles, sponsored by the US Embassy, completed the race. Personal donations, including a handcycle, a wheelchair, prosthesis and other items were presented to the landmine victims of Colombia. 

Achilles CT had a wildly successful fundraiser at the Thomas Hooker Brewery on April 16th to raise funds for their first Hope & Possibility« 10K & 5K on August 21st. They auctioned off a vacation timeshare in Florida and autographed sports paraphernalia from the NY Knicks, New England Patriots, and Boston Red Sox. On April 24th, they had 17 athletes with disabilities and 22 guides on Team Achilles CT at the Cheshire Half & 5K. It was a beautiful spring day in CT and many set personal bests in their distances! A special shout out to Achilles CT Chapter athlete Krys Zybowski who took 2nd place in the handcycle division of the Boston Marathon on April 18th!
Achilles CT welcomes out-of-state athletes and guides and other Achilles Chapters to their Hope & Possibility« Race presented by Cigna on August 21st. To register or get more information about the event, including rooms at the Marriot, please email: president@achillesct.org and visit the website.
Next up for Team Achilles CT.... the Iron Horse Half Marathon, 10K & 5K in Simsbury on Sunday June 5th.

On April 3rd, Achilles Cuba athletes participated in the Terry Fox race in Havana. They were greeted by the President of the Americas Paralympic Committee and many foreign and local runners.

Ellie Cox and Megan Lombardo were thrilled to travel to Pittsburgh for the Hope & Possibility« 5k race on April 9th. Even blustery, snowy conditions could not dampen enthusiasm for this inspiring and fun community-oriented race. Joining Achilles in the Steel City were members of the Cigna/Achilles customer referral program as well as athletes from Achilles Philly. It was an exciting weekend that fulfilled the spirit Trisha Meili envisioned when she created the event.

May 1stRock the River 6K Race, Fort Lee, NJ - After a slow winter, Achilles Bergen County are doing their first race of spring!

May 1st: Achilles Philly is participating in the Broad Street Run. It is a 10-mile run through Philadelphia. They have seven athletes participating with three guides each.

May 19th: Tom DeRosa and Band will perform their first "Do Something" Concert to benefit Achilles New York Chapter @ Mad River Bar & Grille - 1442 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10028. Go to our EventBrite page for tickets.

June 5thAchilles CT Iron Horse Half Marathon, 10K & 5K in Simsbury, CT.

July 17thAchilles Germany 5th Hope and Possibility Race in Munich.

August 21stAchilles CT first Hope & Possibility Race. 

Above, Top Row, L-R: Achilles Cuba at the Terry Fox race with the President of Americas Paralympic committee, Achilles New Zealand members Stephen Green and Enrique Suana at the Boston Marathon; Second Row: Achilles Colombia "Lend your Leg" Race on April 3rd; Third Row: Achilles Connecticut at the Cheshire Half & 5K April 24th; Fourth Row: Achilles Germany, Munich Chapter inviting you to join their 5th Hope and Possibility Race on July 17, 2016; Achilles members Neil Mellen and David Greenstein completed the Madrid Marathon, regarded as one of the hardest marathons in Europe, with Benjamin Heuberger and Robert Russo supporting them.



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