September - October 2019 Volunteer of the Month

ACHILLES (ADULT) VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH
ANTHONY BONAMASSA

How and when did you first hear about Achilles?

I’ve been a member of the New York City running community for years and have always seen Achilles at various races, which prompted a desire to work with them. After coaching for NYRR teams, I started my own running team that I managed for three years. After shifting to a new company (for my career outside of running), I could no longer make the required time commitments for my team. So, in June of 2017, I decided to put my skills towards a good cause and joined Achilles for their Saturday workout in Central Park.

When did you first become a volunteer/guide?

June 2017

What has that experience been like for you?

It’s been very rewarding to give back to athletes of varying ages, ability levels and goals. At this point in my running career, I get a much greater feeling seeing someone I’m training and guiding achieve their goals – whether its walking a mile, running a 10k, or hitting a PR in a marathon.

Describe one or two special memories being an Achilles volunteer/guide.

The 2018 New York City Marathon: I trained Francesco Magisano for several months with the goal to finish under four hours. Considering that he was hit by a truck earlier in the year, it was a very lofty goal. Still, we trained hard for several months in preparation. Despite heavy cramping for Francesco at mile 18, and a quick bathroom break for us, we still finished in 3 hours, 55 minutes – destroying his previous PR by 10 minutes.

Honestly, it’s more about the journey you take together when you have a huge goal to accomplish, than about one particular moment. For those I’ve trained for longer periods of time, the bond that’s created during the training is so much more memorable than the event itself. After it’s all over, the memories of all those miles logged, and the ensuing laughs, are what I remember the most.

To that point, while I am training Mauricio Blandino for the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon, I am keeping a photo diary of every training run we have. Since it’s a 20-week program (3 runs per week), we should have around 60 photos at the end that I’m going to compile into a training photo collage. It’s to show how guides and athletes bond over the course of a training season, and how the journey is ultimately the true reward.

Please name one or two athletes you have guided.

Francesco Magisano, Mauricio Blandino, Andrew Zhang, Simon Isakov, Neill Biddy, Raymond Murphy. There are several others, but this list includes athletes that I’ve coached longterm, including both Francesco and Mauricio, whom I trained and guided for multiple marathons.

Mention a little about your own background.

I’m the rare native New Yorker, originally from Brooklyn and now in Manhattan since 1996. I work in creative branding and marketing for such organizations as MTV, Tom Ford and currently with MetLife.

With my own weight training (3 days a week) and running/guiding/training Achilles athletes (3 days a week), I don’t have much time for anything else – other than playing with my kitten, Licky. In addition to my regular career, I’m a certified personal trainer and running coach, which I’ve used for various private clients and running teams.

Anything else you might like to add?

I think I wrote quite a bit already!

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ACHILLES KIDS VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH:
DAVID LAW

How and when did you first hear about Achilles Kids?

As an avid runner, I've been familiar with Achilles International for years. However, I found the kids program through New York Cares during the holiday season in 2018. I was looking to commit more time volunteering and this was a perfect fit.

When did you first become an Achilles Kids volunteer?

December 2018

What has that experience been like for you? 

The experience has been incredibly rewarding. It's great to see the kids active and having fun in a safe, positive welcoming environment.

Describe a few special memories you have of being an Achilles Kids volunteer.

I train mostly with Daniel and his father who also runs with us. We've done several races together and they were amazing experiences. At his age, Daniel has great focus and composure while racing. Through challenging courses and tough weather, Daniel had amazing performances and always finishes strong. It's also a big boost as people cheer “Go Achilles!” Very recently, I ran with Christine at the kid’s race for the 5th Avenue Mile. The energy and support from the crowd were incredible. It was touching to see how excited Christine was at the finish line after a great race and to see how proud her dad was. 

What does being a volunteer for Achilles Kids mean to you?

Volunteering with Achilles Kids is a great way to combine my passions for running and being of service to others. It's a fulfilling sense of purpose to help make even the smallest possible difference.

When there are a million things you could be doing on a Saturday morning here in NYC, what keeps you coming back?

After just a few runs, I saw how much the kids benefit from the workouts and how appreciative the parents and families are. Committing just a few hours a week yields so much for this amazing group of kids and helps the outstanding Achilles staff as well. I'm not really an accomplished or experienced runner, so I believe time is the best resource I can offer. 

If someone was interested in volunteering for Achilles Kids, what would you tell them?

It's an unbelievably rewarding experience. Ability and goals vary by athlete but volunteers can always provide the positivity, support, encouragement and energy to help. The uplifting atmosphere boost the spirits of everyone involved.

Mention a little about your background.

I'm a native New Yorker who turned to running years ago initially just to lose weight. It's been transformative in so many positive ways. The sport has lead me to great friends, an outstanding team in the Queens Distance Runners and of course the opportunity to help an incredible nonprofit in Achilles International. I've received tremendous support, aide, guidance and motivation from so many great people; I'm always looking for ways to pay the generosity forward.

Anything else you might like to add?

I'm beyond honored and humbled by the recognition. Go Achilles!

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