Above: Tom Davis, gearing up for the 2016 Paralympics. 
Achilles Heel
September 2016
August 15th is a very special day for me. Forty years ago on a very hot and muggy New York City morning, I ran my first half marathon around Central Park on an artificial leg. It was August 15th 1976 and temperatures were in the mid-90s. It was so hot that many people dropped out after the first 6-mile loop. Only 65% of the people who began the race, finished. From the start, I knew the only way to complete this race was to pace myself. By mile eight, I was struggling and began to walk. A volunteer, seeing my struggle, came by and poured water over my head. What bliss! Nothing felt better. I was able to continue and by mile nine the race was traversing the three hills between 102nd and 86th Streets on the west side of the park. I kept my eyes on the ground for fear of looking up at the overwhelming hills and losing faith about finishing. I pushed through and by the time I reached 86th Street I got another soaking of water over my head. It was utter delight! The next mile is nicknamed the "Haagen-Dazs mile" because it was virtually all downhill and as refreshing as a cool ice cream would be in the heat!

My mind was filled with thoughts and observations. First, if I intended to run the 26.2 miles in the New York City Marathon on October 24th, I had to complete a half marathon in August. There was no backing down. I had a goal. That is essential and helps keep the spirits up during a race or even a challenging workout. My second observation was the role of a volunteer in one's success to finish. I had someone to support me and to provide encouragement. Best of all, there was someone to pour water over my head! Otherwise, I could easily have joined forces with the many runners who dropped out. These observations became important factors in the format I used to eventually create Achilles. We encourage our Athletes to PACE themselves, whether it is during training or running a race. Then there is the BUDDY SYSTEM - one of Achilles greatest assets is our GUIDES. These are volunteers who support our runners, encouraging them to keep going with "you got this!" They have the athletes' interest close to their heart.

When I finished the Half Marathon 40 years ago, with a respectable time of 3:39, I began thinking, what's next? The Finishers Medal could have been Olympic gold for all my efforts. I earned it. It generated momentum for my next goal, the 30K race that September. If I could finish, then the NYC Marathon was within my grasp.

It's all about stepping stones. Many Achilles athletes talk about how they started out going from one lamppost to another - completing one goal and soon after onto the next and the next. It is a theme we know well and it quickly became a cornerstone for our success for Achilles - children and adult members alike.

Looking back on the race in 1976, it was very significant for the future of Achilles. As I ran the uber-hot Half Marathon, I learned the joy and importance of pacing, the role of volunteers, setting goals, the rewards (medals) and how success generates the "what's next?" These are a part of our success.

Best of luck to four amazing Achilles athletes - Tom Davis, Freddie De Los Santos, Helman Roman and Jacqui Kapinowksi - who are off to Rio for the 2016 Paralympics! We are so proud of you all. Go Achilles!


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.


SEPTEMBER 11, 6:30 - 8:30 PM 
Samantha Giangrasso, a wonderful friend of Achilles, is running the NYC Marathon in November and raising funds for Achilles along the way. For those of you in or around the Boston area in September, please join Samantha and other Achilles friends and supporters for a great, fun night at the new Dorchester Brewery Company. Get to taste some amazing beers and help Achilles too!! Go Samantha!

Date: Sunday September 11th
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Achilles Connecticut Chapter held their inaugural Hope & Possibility® race on Sunday, August 21st near Hartford, CT. It was a beautiful and very inspiring event put on with true grace by Chapter President Erin Spaulding and her dedicated Executive Board, race committee and race day volunteers! Presenting sponsor Cigna was out in full force with their Executive Sponsor, Aneesh Kumar, guiding Achilles athlete Cathy Beaudoin. Seven other employees also served as guides. Many Cigna employees ran in the event and volunteered their time on race day. Aneesh graciously provided welcoming remarks and helped promote the event within Cigna. Additional event sponsors included Gaylord Specialty HealthcareWalker and Willis Inc.The Home Depot and The Gibney Family Foundation, with many other organizations exhibiting and/or donating to Achilles CT.

With a 5K, 10K, 1.5 mile Fitness Walk, and a Kids Fun Run, there was something for all 355 participants! Hartford Marathon Events (The Hartford Marathon Foundation) did an incredible job organizing the races. In addition to over 80 Achilles CT members (and their families), the Chapter was thrilled to welcome Achilles athlete Marc Fucarile, Laura Buso and guides from Achilles Boston, Cathy Beaudoin, Achilles athlete from VT, Achilles Board Member Mary Koutrakos, and Achilles staff Ellie Cox, Joe Traum, and Megan Lombardo and her adorable family.
The evening before the race, Fleet Feet Sports West Hartford hosted a talk and book signing by Trisha Meili. Everyone in attendance felt the power of Hope and Possibility. Trisha, the Honorary Chair of the race, inspired the crowd at the start and was at the finish line enthusiastically congratulating the runners. What an amazing weekend! The true spirit of Achilles shone throughout the great state of Connecticut!


Florida Achilles member Phil Carvalho completed his second RAGBRAI in July 2016. Along the way he saw a child in a wheelchair. He stopped to visit with the child's family and let the child and his siblings sit in his handcycle while answering questions about adaptive sports. RAGBRAI is the oldest continuous ride in the world. This was the 44th year with around 20,000 riders traversing a 420-mile route with 18,448 feet inclines over seven consecutive days. Athletes like Phil show the 20K cyclists and the local citizens who share their roads that life is not over for people with birth defects, diseases, or injuries that create visual and/or physical deficits. In previous years, at least two other Achilles athletes (one with MS and another paraplegic) have participated in RAGBRAI. Well done, Phil!


Achilles Germany held its fifth Hope & Possibility® Race on July 17th. The event was filled with runners and walkers throughout Germany - children with disabilities as well as members from other Achilles International chapters including Haki Doku from Achilles Milan and Laura Dwork, a twenty-five year Achilles volunteer. 

Thanks to Alexander Hentzschel, President of Achilles Germany and all the volunteers and leaders who helped make this run a huge success! Volunteers did everything from designing and ordering T-shirts, organizing medical aid and a first aid tent, getting a truck donated for the day, organizing meals and beverages, pairing guides, providing music and entertainment and giving medals and hugs at the finish line. Without these great volunteers the event would be not possible. Thank you to everyone involved! 

Congratulations again on your fifth Hope and Possibility event. Go Achilles Germany!


Thanks to Achilles Board Member Mary Koutrakos and Mavel Jones of MetLife, Achilles Kids were sponsored in the Damon Runyon 5k Race at Yankee Stadium. This is one of our most thrilling race opportunities. Our Achilles Kids have the opportunity to run up and down the stadium steps and along the warning track. As huge Yankees fans, this is a special thrill! Special thanks to Angie Bullaro and Carolyn Wynne for their leadership on race day!

Marni Kazer

Marni has been a very active volunteer since she joined Achilles in 2011. She guides several of our athletes including Carmelo Puccia, Anthony Butler and Tom DeRosa. Thank you, Marni, for everything you do for Achilles! 

"The experience with Achilles has been fantastic. I feel honored to be a part of this wonderful, supportive community of guides and athletes....Achilles serves as a constant reminder that no matter the challenge, it can be overcome. It is such an amazing experience to be able to help others achieve their goals." - Marni
To read more about Marni, please click here.

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


Achilles Brazil chapter continues to get stronger every year. This year the chapter competed in more than 20 different races including their biggest event - the Rio De Janeiro Marathon on May 29th 2016. More recently, on August 21st, 30 Achilles Brazil members completed the Sćo Paulo Track & Field Center Norte Running SeriesGo Achilles Brazil!

September 11thDorchester Brewery Company, Boston, MA. Achilles fundraiser 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. For more details and to add your support, please check out this link.

October 30th: Marine Corps Marathon

November 6th: TCS New York City Marathon. For CHARITY ENTRY ENQUIRIES, please contact Calinda McLaughlin.



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