Sweat-soaked hats off! to the athletes, volunteers and sponsors of Achilles International. The 31-year-old organization’s mission: To enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics in order to promote personal achievement, enhance self esteem and lower barriers to living a fulfilling life. (And kick butt!) Above, David hugs tandemmate, Dennis, upon their completion of the 14-mile Lighthouse to Lighthouse Race in Norwalk, CT. A fantastic 2:56:19.
David and Dennis win gold—despite a finicky rudder. Kudos to Good Samaritan engineer, Alex, who stopped mid-race to provide some timely “percussive maintenance.”
Our balletic friend, Felix, and teammate Cesar: silver-medalists in the 14-mile race at 3:20:30. Photo courtesy of Dan Marino Photography.
Here’s some history re the Achilles International Kayak Program and info on how you can get involved. Program manager Gary Williams writes:
Achilles International is an organization focused on providing access to competitive sports for disabled athletes. Founded in 1983 by Dick Traum, the first amputee to run the marathon distance in the 1976 NYC Marathon, it has since grown to 70 chapters worldwide and a membership of over 60,000.
The Achilles International Kayak Program was founded several years ago as an alternate program to the mainstream road race events that Achilles participates in.
In recent years, we’ve competed in the Bear Mountain Challenge (14 miles), the NYC Mayor’s Cup (28 miles) and the Lighthouse to Lighthouse Race (14 miles). All are long, technical, challenging events—exactly in line with the objectives of the organization: to enter mainstream events and compete alongside able-bodied and even elite athletes over the same course and distance, under the same race conditions.
Competing on equal footing provides an incredible sense of accomplishment for the athletes, but also demonstrates to all involved and spectators alike, that disabled athletes need an opportunity to prove their abilities, just like the rest of us.
If you’re interested in helping the Achilles International Kayak Program either as a business or individual sponsor, or are interested in being a guide for an event, contact Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org
A tip of the baseball cap (Jean) and floppy white hat (Alex) to this week’s Photo Challenge: Humanity. 🙂