Athlete Stephanie Zundel
I am from New Jersey. I am in the Master’s program at Vanderbilt University. At the age of three, I went blind due to a severe allergic reaction to Children’s Motrin. I ended up getting a sickness called Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS). SJS is a condition where the immune system turns on itself and burns the body from the inside out. Although blindness can sometimes be a pain, it has not stopped me from anything I set my mind and heart to. Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved participating in sports and athletic activities. I have been doing boxing since I was ten years old. I have a junior and senior black belt in white tiger kempo. Running is something I got into pretty recently. During my sophomore year of college, my roommates signed up for the Country Music half marathon. I was not very good at running at all. I could barely run one mile, but I begrudgingly agreed. During my training, I met a friend at a convention I went to for the National Federation of the Blind and she told me about Achilles. I thought it sounded like an awesome organization, so I decided to join. Achilles is a running group for people with disabilities. Since then, I have done many races including 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, and half marathons. In November 2016, I ran my first marathon in New York City. It was thrilling to have the opportunity to run the New York marathon. I qualified for the Boston Marathon there and ran the Boston Marathon in April, 2017. Achilles has been such a huge part of my life. The volunteer guides don’t treat the athletes any differently because they have disabilities. The athletes also support the volunteer guides in return, helping guides new to running reach new goals and new distances. The community is extremely supportive, and the other athletes have been instrumental in inspiring me toward my running goals. My next big race is the California International Marathon in December in Sacramento.
Guide Amy Harris
Hello I’m Amy Harris, or A2 as I am often called at Achilles (Amy Saffell, one of our awesome athletes will always and forever be A1), also often known as Lizzy’s mom, or “Lizard” as she is affectionately called at Achilles. I’ve been guiding with Achilles for going on 6 years now, having begun shortly after Achilles began in 2012. What began as a way to share physical fitness and healthy activities with my daughter has turned in to a BIG part of my life, as I volunteered for years with Achilles before taking on the Assistant Director position at the beginning of 2017. Achilles for me is a great fit, a way to share my love of running with others, and it is so much more rewarding to me at this point in my running life to help others achieve their goals. Running is a gift that I can share with others and Achilles friends have become an extended family to me.
Guide Ed Sieffert
Ed started with Achilles over five years ago after seeing a sign at the McCabe Community Center. Knowing the greenway so well, he thought he could lend a hand to the new organization. He hasn’t looked back. He has a weekly figure for the training runs and loves helping out with Hope and Possibility. Being around all the guides and athletes even motivated him to run his first marathon. Ed’s favorite Achilles related memory was while traveling. He saw a young blind lady who had been left alone to fend for herself to get through security at the airport. All his Achilles experience gave him the confidence to help her through the process and see her on her way.