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 a marathon. It was the NYC Marathon and 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 developed specialized programs for children, teens, adults and veterans. Achilles Kids provides training, racing opportunities, and an in-school program for children with disabilities, while the Achilles Freedom Team brings running and marathon opportunities to veterans who suffered trauma while serving in a branch of the United States military, predominantly those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Central Park Achilles Kids Workouts seek to bridge the gap between Achilles Kids and our Adult Workouts - as children mature they want to take the next step and focus on running as their sport of choice. Our Central Park Achilles Kids program focuses on running competitively while keeping its members engaged through positive reinforcement. Parents and guardians remain involved.
While our programs focus on running, the truth is, running is simply the tool for accomplishing our main objective: to bring hope, inspiration, and the joys of achievement to all. Nothing illustrates this more than our signature event, the Hope & Possibility®. In these races - which take place in several cities worldwide - able-bodied runners and athletes with disabilities participate side-by-side and, with several disability award categories, it puts a first place win within the grasp of all runners.