In 1976, Dick Traum, an above the knee amputee, found himself approaching middle age and out of shape. After joining a local YMCA, Dick began running – small distances at first and then, eventually several miles. Within a year, Dick became the first amputee to run the New York City Marathon. The experience was life changing, bringing a powerful sense of achievement and self-esteem. In 1983, seeking to provide that same opportunity to other people with disabilities, Dick created the Achilles Track Club, now called Achilles International.
Today, this non-profit organization has chapters and members in over 65 locations within the United States and abroad. Every day, in parks, gyms, and tracks all over the world, Achilles provides athletes with disabilities with a community of support. Able-bodied volunteers and disabled runners come together to train in an environment of support and community. Within this community, runners gain measurable physical strength and build confidence through their sense of accomplishment, which often transfers to other parts of their life.
Over the years, Achilles has also developed specialized programs for children and war veterans. Achilles Kids provides training, racing opportunities, and an in-school program for children with disabilities, while our Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans program brings running programs and marathon opportunities to disabled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
While our programs focus on athletics, the truth is, sports are simply the tool for accomplishing our main objective: to bring hope, inspiration and the joys of achievement to people with disabilities. Nothing illustrates this more than our signature event, the Hope and Possibility Five-Miler. In this race, able-bodied and disabled athletes participate side-by-side and, with several disabled award categories, it puts a first place win within the grasp of all runners.