May-June 2019 Newsletter

Above clockwise from Top Left: Cletis Mays and wife Vanina; Ivan Kaufman triumphantly heading to finish line; Sister Mary Gladys getting ready for another race.

Above clockwise from Top Left: Cletis Mays and wife Vanina; Ivan Kaufman triumphantly heading to finish line; Sister Mary Gladys getting ready for another race.

Message from the President

We had three losses this month. Our dear friend and Achilles member, Sister Mary Gladys Murphy, SSND, one of our first athletes, passed away on Sunday May 12th after having been in poor health for the past year. Sr. Mary Gladys was 87 years old and left behind quite a legacy as a teaching nun for the School of the Sacred Sisters of Notre Dame and as a prominent Achilles member since the beginning. Sr. Mary was very proud of her age and good health over the years. She used to brag that she outlived all her family members by over two decades. In her early years, she jogged/walked the New York City Marathon and eventually used a handcycle. She completed over twenty-five marathons and several Hope & Possibility® races. She was an inspiration to me and the many friends in her life. 

A second friend - Ivan Kaufman - passed away on May 8th. Ivan had been a member of Achilles for several years. He used to joke that he was a bit like the groundhog. Ivan would disappear from our workouts during the cold winter months and then reappear in the spring. We always knew summer was close when Ivan joined us again in Central Park. He was a joy to be around. I used to test some of my new material (jokes) on Ivan – he was kind and generous with his laughter. 

On May 21st, we heard the sad news that another Achilles friend and member, Cletis Mays, also passed away. Cletis, Ret. U.S.M.C. and Vietnam Veteran, was the 2014 Freedom Team Member of the Year. He encompassed all the qualities that would earn that title and more: supportive teammate, talented athlete, caring listener, cajoling buddy, positive spirit and made of pure grit. He named his handcycle, “Sadie Pain” - and after each finish line he would tell us if he liked her or if he was mad at her. Cletis delighted in bringing his wonderful wife and father-in-law to every race weekend and they were always a joy to be around. The family exudes an infectious spirit and no doubt that stems from Cletis. He was smart and honest and kind - and had an unforgettable voice that we can still hear. Cletis has impacted our Achilles family in a big way and he will stay in our hearts for all time - especially out on that racecourse.

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” - Mitch Albom 

On Tuesday May 21st we walked in honor of Ivan during our regular Tuesday night workout. 

We will also honor Ivan, Sr. Mary Gladys and Cletis at our post-Hope & Possibility® race brunch. I will miss these great Achilles athletes.

The impact of these loses reminds me of the importance of the great friendships we form through Achilles – being part of Achilles is as much about the great bonds we form as it is about encouraging activity. It is as much a “social club” as it is a running club. This is something of which I am particularly proud. We have developed many wonderful relationships with runners, guides, sponsors and supporters over the years. This is how we help change lives.

When people ask me: “How do you motivate people?” “How do you get people going (to workouts)?” I tell them it’s the “group”. It’s the camaraderie and friendships. 

Our workouts become gatherings that are full of joy, humor, stimulation and exercise. Often, at the start of a workout or race event, members and guides spend the first few minutes hugging and catching up with each other. Checking in to see how their friends are doing. This is the “Achilles way”. This is also why so many of us show up on a Saturday morning workout! We truly appreciate the outpouring of warmth and friendship shared during each gathering.

Thank you to everyone for your continued love and support of Achilles.

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Don't forget, if you shop at Amazon please shop at When you shop here, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. Be sure to select Achilles! This can generate a lot of money if we can make it a simple habit for 10,000 people on our contacts + thousands of others in our personal social media contacts. Thank you!


Join us on Wednesday June 12th for our First Achilles Comedy Night Fun-raiser!

Where: Gotham Comedy Club @ 7pm 

Headliner: Roy Wood Jr. - The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Tickets are $50 plus 2-drink minimum

Sponsor an Achilles Athlete tickets are $75 which includes 2 non-alcoholic drink tickets.

Purchase a ticket here today! 

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TD Bank and Achilles International are proud to announce the 17th Annual Achilles Hope & Possibility® 4M by TD Bank, the largest road race in the world for people with disabilities. The event is held in partnership with New York Road Runners and is a qualifying race. It will take place on Sunday, June 23rd at 8:30 a.m. in Central Park, New York.

"TD Bank and Achilles share a deep and abiding belief in enabling people of all abilities to achieve their full potential," John Pluhowski, Chief Communications Officer and Advice Council Chair for Individuals with Diverse Abilities at TD Bank. “We recognize that promoting inclusion is not only the right thing to do; it also supports a more robust, innovative and productive economy for all!”

This sponsorship grows out of TD’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion as embodied by its multi-year Ready Commitment, a social responsibility platform that aims to build vibrant and connected communities across its North American footprint, opening doors for people of all abilities and backgrounds to succeed with confidence in a changing world.

“As a loyal TD Bank client for over 15 years, Achilles values TD’s commitment to make banking more accessible to people with disabilities," said Dick Traum, Founder and CEO of Achilles International. "We are thrilled to have them sponsor this landmark event, which celebrates the extraordinary capabilities and resilience of the human spirit."


The tradition continues! After you've crossed the finish line in Central Park, received your well-earned medal and snapped pictures with your fellow team members, it's time to head to Dorrian's Red Hand for the annual Achilles Hope & Possibility® Post-Race Brunch Presented by Accessible Dispatch! Join us 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for a delicious brunch spread, a 50-50 raffle and special guest speakers. A donation is requested to help cover costs by buying a ticket online. Tickets will not be available at Dorrian's. We are proud to be partnering with Accessible Dispatch as our presenting sponsor for this year's event. Passengers can request an accessible taxi on-demand for pick-up anywhere in the five boroughs and pay the metered fare, with no extra fees. Book your trip by calling 646-599-9999 or 311 (NY Relay: 711), or by downloading the “Accessible Dispatch NYC” app.


The 123rd Boston Marathon weekend – April 13th-16th - was a huge success! Achilles International hosted 53 athletes for the weekend with New YorkConnecticutCharlotte-North CarolinaColorado, and France chapter athletes as well as 36 members of our Freedom Team. We are grateful for the tremendous support from our partners and supporters that helped to make the weekend extra special for the Achilles athletes, caregivers and families. A heartfelt thanks to the GM Military Discount, the title sponsor of the Freedom Team; Symmons IndustriesMassachusetts Fallen HeroesBoston Sword & TunaPWCSecurity Concepts, the Cohassett VFW PostBozzutosVeterans Assembled ElectronicBattle BarsMarc Fucarile, and Ed Friedrich. All gave generously making everyone feel like the red carpet was rolled out everywhere we went. 

We are especially thankful for the men and women who have supported the Freedom Team in Boston over the past 10 + years, making Boston one of the favorite race experiences of all! Yankee Line Inc., the Boston Red Sox, and the Boston Police Department and MBTA– year after year welcome and honor our team with such reverence and love. A big shout out to local volunteers who give of their time and unique resources to enhance the weekend from start to finish: Megan Thatford, Julie QuinnJeremy Fucile, and Joseph Kelley. We thank and adore all of you!

Once again, Freedom Team handcyclist, Tom Davis, came in first place and there was a first time win for female handcyclist, Devann Murphy!! It is always remarkable to witness Achilles athletes on that podium at the Boston Marathon Finish line – and to hear our National Anthem played. We don’t take the moment for granted and are incredibly honored to participate in this hallowed race. We cannot wait to return to Boston and appreciate all the inspiration and encouragement that everyone provides the athletes and families we serve!

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We can help! We have a few bibs left for the NYC Tri! If you would like a guaranteed entry to the event and want to support our awesome Tri Achilles team, please have a look at at or email for details. You'll get to train with an awesome crew, get great gear and an awesome race day experience in support of a wonderful program! 


We acquired a few extra Charity Bibs for the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon. If you are interested, please let us know immediately as they will go fast. For more details, click HERE. Email Fiona for more information.

Do something amazing. Guaranteed.


Picture-perfect conditions greeted over 25,000 participants on May 18th for the 2019 Popular Brooklyn Half. Among them were 17 incredible Achilles athletes who took advantage of the excellent weather to snag new personal records and celebrate post-run at the world-famous Coney Island Boardwalk! Chapter member Mauricio Blandino continued his amazing streak zipping his way to a 1:41:00 finish, which earned him local elite status for the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon! 

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On April 14th, two teams of Achilles Athletes made history at the Indoor Marathon Relay at the New Balance Armory in Upper Manhattan! In all, two teams of eight athletes with disabilities (along with their guides) competed against one another churning out lap after lap until a winner was crowned -- 211 laps per team in fact! In the end, Team Franny (led by Francesco Magisano) beat out Team Charles (led by Charles Catherine) by just a matter of minutes as both teams broke the 4-hour mark and celebrated with well-earned swag and pizza! 

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Achilles Arkansas has launched in Fayetteville under the care of Mary Dean, who brought Achilles with her after being a member of the NYC chapter for years. We welcome Arkansas to the Achilles family! 


Achilles Connecticut has a busy May and June with athletes and guides racing all over Connecticut and the Northeast! The Team ran The Bill Landers 5K in Glastonbury on May 11th, and then Susanne Cesana (with guides Aviva Elkayam and Mary Drake) represented the chapter in the Popular Brooklyn Half MarathonAchilles Providence athlete Rob Sanchas and guide Erin Williams crossed the border and joined Adam Fleisher at the Mystic Half Marathon and Stuart Sherman took on the Vermont City Marathon Memorial Day weekend!

Team Achilles Connecticut has 5 races in June—the Faxon Law Fairfield 5K, Hope in Motion 5K/10K, the UCONN Health Half Marathon, 10K and 5K, the Gaylord Gauntlet Obstacle 5K, and the Achilles Hope & Possibility® 4-miler at the end of the month! 

Reminder for other chapters to plan your summer destination race: Achilles CT’s 4th Annual Hope & Possibility® 5K/10K presented by Cigna on July 21st! If any athlete or volunteer would like to join us for the race, email to get our Achilles discount code! For more information on the event visit the web!

Above: Achilles Connecticut at the 2019 Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon. L - R. Aviva Elkayam (guide), Susanne Cesana, (VI athlete) and Mary Drake (guide)

Above: Achilles Connecticut at the 2019 Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon. L - R. Aviva Elkayam (guide), Susanne Cesana, (VI athlete) and Mary Drake (guide)


Achilles Nashville has had a busy few months with lots of races and places. Their biggest race this spring was the 2019 St. Jude Rock and Roll in Nashville on Saturday, April 27th. Achilles Nashville had 13 athletes participate in the 5k or half marathon, along with 24 guides. As if downtown wasn’t busy enough with 30,000+ for the marathon weekend, Nashville was also home to the NFL draft the same weekend. The finish at the Nissan Stadium gave everyone an up-close and personal look at the NFL draft and all the hoopla surrounding it! Nashville does it all so well! Other races the past few months included the Titans 5K, the Purity Dairy Dash (where both Lizzy Solomon and Matt Davis took home ice cream for a year awards!), the Red Bull Wings for Life Run, and Race Judicata. Nashville chapter is fortunate to be a beneficiary of the Race Judicata each year and everyone looks forward to the beautiful Greenway 5k/ 10k event put on by the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Nashville Bar Association. Achilles Nashville said goodbye to some of our favorite athletes and guides as they graduated from one of the local universities.

Achilles Nashville is also so grateful to the Community Foundation for the Big Payback 24-hour day of giving they organize each year for non-profit agencies. On May 2nd Achilles Nashville was able to raise approximately $10,260 through this program! Well done! Achilles Nashville's 6th Annual Hope & Possibility® 1-Miler and 5-Miler will be held on October 19th, 2019. Everyone is welcome!

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Annie Donnell was introduced to Achilles while working on her undergrad degree in Nashville. Upon graduation, she brought Achilles to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. The chapter meets in the Voyagers Room inside the Dennis and Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center in Forest Park.Congratulations, Annie! We welcome Achilles St. Louis to the family!



Achilles has an extensive international network, which includes 55 chapters in 31 countries. In addition, we have members in another 40 countries. Our newest chapter is in London, UK. All chapters hold weekly or bi-weekly workouts and participate in local and international races. Dedicated chapter leaders help promote these opportunities for people with disabilities in marginalized communities.


Achilles United Kingdom began on April 17th with their first workout in Hyde Park. It was inspired by William Trembath, who used to run as an Achilles guide in Central Park, and Chris Blackabee, who ran with Achilles the New York City Marathon in 2017. Colin Johnson, certified guide trainer joined the group. The Chapter holds workouts in Hyde Park on Wednesdays. Go Achilles UK!

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Achilles Mongolia is thrilled to launch its latest program "Achilles Travel". Its objective is to create employment and personal development for members while at the same time raising funds to support the chapter’s programs. We are excited to invite our members to travel with Achilles Travel Mongolia to experience the wonders of Mongolia while supporting the noble cause that is dear to our hearts. 

Other programs include the Ulaanbaatar chapter, Achilles Kids MongoliaSurvivors ProgramMarathon TourTrauma Hospital After Surgery Support Program, and Sunday Hiking Program. 

Go Achilles Mongolia!

For more information on our national and international chapters please check out our website

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We would like to share an exciting new opportunity for Achilles members! Through our dear friend and Achilles volunteer, Reshma Patel, we have learned that Anthony Evrard at Court 16 in Brooklyn has started the "Sound of Tennis Program" to teach visually impaired athletes how to play tennis. This is a FREE program for Achilles Athletes. Equipment provided


*The Sound of Tennis Program - Court 16 Brooklyn 

Every Wednesdays from 11AM to 1PM 

1 hour of fitness, 1 hour of Tennis

Equipment provided - no charges or fees to the Athletes. 

Contact Jane Montoya- JANE@COURT16.COM 

Phone: 718-875-5550 

*Sound of Tennis, offered exclusively at Court 16 Brooklyn, is a comprehensive tennis experience for visually impaired adults in the New York community. The holistic curriculum and program design utilizes adaptive equipment including sound foam balls and smaller, modified courts with tactile lines. Court 16's expertly trained coaches customize hour-long lessons for individuals with varied levels of visual impairment B1 through B5 (adhering to International Blind Tennis Association standards). The program also includes an off-court fitness regimen. The small group settings allow players to advance their skills progressively, fostering teamwork and strengthening self-esteem.

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Congratulations to Anna Rhea Lewandowski who is Volunteer of the Month! Anna joined Achilles in 2015 just as Achilles Brooklyn was starting. As manager of Jack Rabbit Store in Park Slope, Anna hosted Achilles Brooklyn’s Thursday night workouts. (Thank you, Anna, and Jack Rabbit stores for taking such good care of our members!)

“We can always use guides for all paces, all distances! You don’t need special training or background and you can come as frequently (or infrequently) as works for your schedule! As every athlete is different and has unique needs, guiding looks different for every athlete-guide pair. Half the fun is learning about what works for you and your athlete and seeing who you fit with best!” – Anna Rhea

To read more about Anna, click HERE

To nominate someone for Volunteer of the Month, please contact FIONA

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Congratulations to Courtney Hindle who is the Achilles Kids Volunteer of the Month! Courtney joined Achilles in 2016 and quickly became one of our “regulars”! Courtney’s enthusiasm and love for the kids is infectious, as you can see in the photos below. When she is not running with Achilles Kids, Courtney works in marketing for a children’s tv show. (Thank you, Courtney for your love, dedication and devotion!)

“This is the most welcoming group in the city. Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and moved by every kid, parent, organizer, and volunteer you meet!” – Courtney Hindle

To read more about Courtney, click HERE

To nominate someone for Volunteer of the Month, please contact Karen

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June 23rd– Achilles Hope & Possibility® Post-Race Brunch 

July 21st– NYC Tri

July 21st– Achilles Connecticut’s 4thAnnual Hope & Possibility®


June 2nd- Achilles Australia, Sydney chapter + Run 2 Cure

June 2nd- Achilles Peru + 10km Vila El Salvador race

June 3rd- Achilles New Zealand + Christchurch marathon

June 9th- Achilles Norway + Hope & Possibility® Race

June 15th- Achilles Canada + Toronto Waterfront 10K

June 22nd- Achilles Brazil, Rio de Janeiro marathon.

Achilles is in charge of AAWD

July 28th- Achilles Germany, Munich + Hope & Possibility® 

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