Achilles, a famed warrior of Greek mythology, is now synonymous with someone’s point of weakness. But, Achilles International has found a way to combat disability with its mission- “to bring hope, inspiration and the joys of achievement to people with disabilities.” They work to pair an athlete with a disability with an athlete, or “guide”, who is not disabled so that they can run together. Running is defined by Achilles as any forward movement, whether that be in a wheelchair, on crutches or for the visually impaired, tethered to a seeing runner. The local chapter, Achilles International Nashville, does just that with weekly runs and participation in various events from 5k’s to marathons.
Impressively, the founder of Achilles International, Dick Traum, participated in his 47th Boston Marathon this year. He is a testament to resilience and that embodies these athletes who work so hard to overcome personal obstacles.
Even though it may seem like the disabled athletes are who receive the most benefit, the guides often find themselves on the receiving end of some very vital life lessons. As was well said in the Nashville chapter’s August 2013 newsletter, “Friendships are forged among guides and athletes, people who may never have had the courage to approach each other in everyday life. Guides often find their own running paces challenged running with different people and their aspirations broadened as they begin to guide in races that they wouldn’t otherwise have run.”