2016 Nashville Hope & Possibility
(Photo courtesy of Amy Harris
Achilles Heel
June 2016
Hope & Possibility® has become an international event. On May 14th Achilles Nashville celebrated their third H&P race with over 500 athletes and guides. Achilles Mongolia will have their second H&P in September. Germany, Peru and Brazil have all celebrated recent H&P events as well. On August 21st Achilles CT will have their first H&P event.

What does Hope & Possibility mean? We are never halted by our limitations. Whatever life throws at us, Achilles athletes remind me that nothing is insurmountable. Consider the many amputees who are members of our Achilles Freedom Team, wounded through combat, all pushing past the limitations of their injuries to compete. We have hundreds of wheelchair users as well as visually impaired members who refuse to allow their disabilities stop them from discovering what they can do as they compete in races and triathlons. We also have thousands of Achilles Kids, many of whom are on the autism spectrum. Last year, 7,200 completed a "virtual marathon" throughout their school year.

Some members' disabilities are not always evident. These are people who have diabetes, seizures, kidney failure, Traumatic Brain Injury and bipolar disorder; others deal with cancer. The common denominator is each person's ability to push through and discover what is possible, competing in races, including the 2016 Paralympics. With this arises hope not just for that member's future but for the rest of us too as we are inspired by their achievements and successes. We can do anything. It means so much to me when an Achilles member comes over after a race or a workout, and says: "Dick, I never knew I could do this! It's really great! My next goal is...."

Greatness is not just about the winner or the champion. Greatness is a positive framework for more to follow. We constantly redefine "Hope & Possibility" as we measure the abilities of the Human Spirit. Thank you to all our friends, supporters and Achilles members for reminding us of this and especially to Trisha Meili who is the inspiration for this race.

The New York Hope & Possibility® 4-Mile Race is a joyful, fun-filled day and an important fundraiser to help support our programs. If you haven't already signed up, please do. We are near capacity at 5,600 registrants! We have an exciting raffle with great giveaways for race participants and a special fundraiser brunch afterwards at Dorrian's Red Hand restaurant. See you in the park!


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.

by Trisha Meili
The Hope & Possibility Race has become the signature event of Achilles International. Every year, there are Hope & Possibility Races throughout the world! The name came from the subtitle of my 2003 Bestseller, I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility. This subtitle captures the soul of the book. When writing, I reflected on the extent and speed of my recovery from being beaten, raped and left for dead during a run in Central Park in 1989. I realized something very powerful: all the love, support, prayers and intentions I received gave me hope. From that hope, possibility emerged. With hard work and determination, I found that anything seemed possible, motivating me to keep pushing forward, beyond what I (or others) thought possible. 

This is exactly what happened the first time I went running with Achilles athletes at my rehabilitation hospital. It felt so good to be with them and filled me with such hope because I was taking something back that had been taken away. I started with a quarter mile loop; growing over time to a few miles. Achilles athletes inspired me then and continue to inspire me now! 

In 2003, Achilles was looking for a signature race and we decided to name it Hope & Possibility to embody the essence of Achilles. Achilles fills us with hope - it's the love and support we feel from each other that motivates and inspires us to see what is possible, to celebrate what we can do. That is the spirit of this race. 

With tremendous joy, I recently participated in Nashville's third Hope & Possibility Race. It's more than an athletic event. It's more than a run along a beautiful course. The Hope & Possibility Race is what Achilles is all about: able-bodied and athletes with challenges setting goals, running together, competing, achieving and having fun. Achilles reminds us we can do more than we ever thought possible. For me, the race will always be a celebration of the power of the human spirit.

Rosalie Ames (Achilles member since 1986):
Hope & Possibility® is so inspiring to so many. I call it "my race!" It gives hope for the future...it's a lifesaving race. After several surgeries for cancer, I had very bad depression. I heard about Achilles and joined in 1986. Achilles helped me in more ways than I can describe. It changed my life. It was so uplifting and gave me a great sense of hope and the possibility that I can do anything I set my mind to.
Erin Miller Spaulding (Achilles member & Achilles CT President)
I joined Achilles at the 2012 New York Hope & Possibility® two years after re-learning how to coordinate my walking (and then running) following a traumatic brain injury. I was an avid runner and triathlete prior to a 350-lb. cabinet detaching off a wall and collapsing on me. I was told by doctors I would never run again and maybe never walk without the use of crutches or a cane. And for a while I believed them...I had lost hope. While at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare rehabbing from my head injury, Tony Allegretti handed me an Achilles brochure. Initially skeptical, I slowly realized that it was POSSIBLE to still do what I love to do, just in a different way. I signed up for the race and headed to the starting line clutching a rolling walker for balance. I had Brendan, my guide from Cigna on one side and my friend Marie on the other. For five miles my guides motivated me and picked up the pace with me. When I handed Marie my walker at the finish line (because I stubbornly didn't want it in my finish line photo), they celebrated with me. After the race, I had the incredible honor of meeting Dick Traum and Trisha Meili for the first time. Trisha shared her inspiring story and radiated hope, which I soaked in! That magical Sunday in Central Park, I realized that anything is possible with Achilles! (Erin now heads up the Achilles CT chapter and proudly shares her story with others. Achilles CT has their first Hope & Possibility race, presented by Cigna, on August 21st.)
Toby Tanser (Achilles Vice President & Athlete)
For me, Hope and Possibility conveys a lot of promised soulful adventure when linked to a running race. The words encourage you to look higher, think bigger, go farther... What a positive name for a race!
Amy Saffell (Achilles Nashville member)
Hope and possibility surround and inspire me every day. Growing up with spina bifida and using a wheelchair, hope and possibility have always inspired me to believe that I can do anything, even...no, ESPECIALLY...run, and to persevere towards my goals, despite obstacles I face. Hope and possibility inspire me when I lose my way and my friends and family have to remind me that it's right there in front of me, never lost, but just sometimes forgotten in trying times. Hope and possibility especially inspire me when I see it pouring out of someone who is just realizing their own potential for the very first time. That spark is just enough to set a fire inside of them, hope and possibility fueling a lifetime of believing in themselves. As I have witnessed so much hope and possibility, I hope that "hope and possibility" flows out of me and inspires others, too.
Amy Harris (Achilles Nashville Volunteer)
Hope & Possibility® provides an opportunity for athletes of all abilities to come together to compete and simply have fun. It gives positive awareness to the abilities of athletes with disabilities, as they are more alike than different. We all want to enjoy the sport of running; we just need different supports or means to do so. It is a race event where everyone is welcome and the spirit of the day is contagious! For me, it is a time for my family to come together. They all know how important Achilles is to my daughter, Sara ("Lizzy") Solomon--who has cerebral palsy and uses the hand cycle--and me, so they come from Houston, Tahoe, Indianapolis, and San Francisco every year to participate with us and support the event in our community.
Nicoletta Nerangis (Achilles Brooklyn President & Volunteer)
The words hope and possibility truly say it all as shown in the last few weeks of May which have truly been a gift to me because of Achilles. Guiding Achilles athlete, Michael Ring in the Brooklyn Half and seeing him go from marathon runner, to paralyzed, to walking again was incredible. Hope and the strength that comes from hope, brings us endless possibilities--from walking, rolling, running, to completing a marathon, literally and figuratively. Achilles brings us all together, filling us with hope, striving together, and creating possibilities that we could have never imagined. On Monday May 23rd, I had the honor of running the last leg with Achilles ultra-marathon runner, Jason Romero, the first blind person to run across the United States to bring awareness that visually impaired people can do anything. He ran 50 miles a day for 60 days, running 70 miles on his last day into City Hall, NYC. His 3080 miles run expressed hope to all and that possibilities are endless--and we can do anything. I love what he says: "I am not disabled; what I am is specially-abled" It was incredible to see Achilles athletes Abbey Lanier, Charles Catherine, John Pierre and Mauricio Blandino meet Jason. They are all "specially-abled" and give hope and possibility to us all. 

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.

Amanda Kwong, Melbourne Australia

Amanda first heard about Achilles in 2013 while living in Canberra, Australia. She quickly got involved, guiding in workouts and races. After moving to Melbourne, she made sure to bring Achilles with her!! Amanda has the honor of being our first volunteer of the month from an overseas chapter!! Well done, Amanda, and thank you so much! 

"First and foremost, being a guide gives you the best opportunity to meet like-minded people. It also gives you a greater appreciation of accessibility and equality in our community. It's as close to being in someone else's shoes as you can get." - Amanda Kwong
To read more about Amanda, please click here.

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



The amazing Larry Sillen is that wonderful, ever-present, forever smiling, Achilles friend, photographer and guide, who is often seen running back and forth between athletes, with not just one, but two cameras around his neck, trying to capture "the perfect moment!"
Larry has been part of Achilles since 1983. He was our very first volunteer and began taking photos the same day, 33 years ago. He has been a volunteer and our resident photographer ever since, affectionately called "Pop-Up, Larry" by Tom McGrath, another Achilles friend who runs marathons to raise funds for Achilles Kids. Tom coined the phrase because Larry had a way of "popping-up" in the most unexpected places to take photos...whether it was downtown, then again uptown or in the Bronx, even back across town. Larry turned up, following Tom's marathon runs almost every minute of his marathon day!
Over the years, Larry has taken a whopping 2 million photos--and counting-as well as completing close to 60 races including seven marathons. He guided some of our early members like Jose Cruz (1996), Scott Murden (1997) and Donald Arthur (2001) taking photos along the way! Larry described running with Scott as "the most rewarding thing I have ever done with Achilles." On Marathon day they started out with two other guides and finished up with 10! Scott completed the marathon in 9 hours. "I was so proud of him. We did the marathon two more times and it was the best feeling, finishing with him." Even after hip replacement surgery, Larry was back on the track, taking photos and getting fit at the same time! Larry is now resident photographer and guide for Achilles Brooklyn as well as Manhattan.
We want to say a really big "thank you!" to Larry - we really appreciate everything you do for Achilles!
Check out Larry's Google page and see if you can find yourself there!! He has over 12 million views!! 
"Being involved with Achilles all these years changed my life. I always had a passion for running but now that I am so involved with Achilles, that passion has grown into helping people in our group. Sharing all my photos makes it even better. I love hearing from Achilles Kids parents (saying) they love my photos. I get a kick out of that. It makes me feel appreciated for all I do." - Larry Sillen


The Achilles St. Petersburg Chapter was founded in 1989 by a group of visually impaired passionate runners. Today the chapter has a broad spectrum of athletes, ranging from WWII veterans to kids from special needs schools. Members compete annually in Paralympics and numerous local and international marathons and running events. In addition to the weekly running program, members also participate in regional swimming, skiing, and arm wrestling competitions. 

On May 4th 2016 the chapter had its first Hope and Possibility® Run with a focus on promoting a better future regardless of one's disabilities, differences, and politics. The event united all runners on a sunny day in Victory Park in St. Petersburg. All runners proudly wore Achilles neon yellow "St. Petersburg Hope and Possibility" t-shirts donated by the families of Richard Russo and Anne Goodwin. After the run, participants walked to the Soldiers Memorial and laid red carnations in honor of the million who perished in the three-year siege on St Petersburg (1941-1944.) Participants then gathered for lunch and an award ceremony hosted by the Association for the Blind, St. Petersburg region. Congratulations to all on a very successful event!


On Sunday May 15th, thirty athletes with disabilities (AWD) from Achilles Brazil took part in the Track & Field Running Circuit in São Paulo. The circuit consists of races throughout shopping centers all over the city. On May 29th Achilles Brazil also had 90 AWD participate in the Rio de Janeiro's Marathon, Half Marathon and 6K. In 2017 the Rio de Janeiro Marathon will be on June 18th. The chapter would like to invite Achilles from all over the world to participate! Registration is open until November 6th, 2016. For more details contact: Mario Mello or Mario Rollo. 

Achilles CT had groups of athletes and guides running in races in CT, MA and even a half marathon in Maine to train for the upcoming Iron Horse Half Marathon, 10k and 5k which is on June 6th in Simsbury, CT. They have team events every weekend in June leading up to the New York Hope & Possibility Race in Central Park on June 26th!

Achilles Nashville hosted its 3rd Annual Hope & Possibility® 5-Miler and 1-Miler on Saturday May 14th at the Dominican Campus. Over 500 athletes and guides turned out to race including Trisha Meili and Eleanor Cox. The Chapter was honored to have Trisha with them as she inspired the crowd with her pre-race speech. Prior to race day, the Chapter's very own Allison Wills Brooks hosted a delicious BBQ dinner to honor the many individuals who contribute so much to the chapter. The Nashville community also rallied around. Co-chairs Sara Solomon, Cassie McDonald, Amy Saffell and Carrie Redmon brought many new features to this year's Race Village with the hope of continued growth in future years. Achilles athlete JP Williams performed at the pre-race dinner and Achilles Guide Tiffany Johnson sang the National Anthem! Here are just a few pics from the race day festivities and pre-race dinner!

June 5thThe Iron Horse Half Marathon, 10k and 5k in Simsbury, CT.

June 12thKIC-IT Tri, Stamford, CT.

June 26thAchilles New York Hope & Possibility® 4 Miler in Central Park. 

June 26thMary Koutrakos and Michael Boyd's Post-H&P Fundraising Brunch @ Dorrian's Red Hand. For tickets and details, click here.

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

July 24thNYC Tri

August 21stAchilles CT first Hope & Possibility Race. 

Above, Achilles Brazil, Rio De Janeiro marathon, May 29, 2016



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