In 2004, Achilles launched the Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans program. An extension of the Achilles process of physical strengthening, building confidence, and generating a supportive community, the program was adapted to the specific needs of wounded members of the U.S. military. Program participants receive training as well as use of specialized adaptive devices, such as hand-crank wheelchairs. While the goal is to enter and complete a marathon, the program stresses “achievable accomplishment,” encouraging participants to begin by training for a less-demanding competition, such as our 5-mile “Hope and Possibility” race. This allows the members to experience success and build confidence. Since its inception, we have worked closely with the physical therapists at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD; and Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, CA. All injured military personnel and veterans are eligible for the program, whether the injury is combat or non-combat related.
"Thanks to all of you, I'm on a path. Handcycling gives me a purpose again."
- SGT Helman Roman
We reach out to wounded veterans in the hospital and in their local communities. Our goal is to provide them with the opportunity to train and participate in mainstream marathons. Program training includes learning how to use a hand-crank wheelchair, which is a three-wheeled cycle powered by hand pedals. This adaptive device is excellent for people with injuries that have resulted in amputation or paralysis. It was through the efforts of Achilles that these devices are now permitted in many marathons, including the ING New York City Marathon.
Achilles has found that having the opportunity to be active and achieve in a mainstream environment leads to increased confidence, enhanced physical wellness and goal setting in all areas of life. We encourage our athletes to continue the program and their physical and emotional healing process. They can do this through membership in a local Achilles chapter or by participating in our marathon tour.
Additional details about areas around the country where Achilles is active can be found on the Chapter page of our website.
For further information, please contact the Freedom Team Director Genna Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org.