The Big Payback is coming back, and we are participating!
The Big Payback, a community-wide, online giving day hosted by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, returns on Thursday , May 2rd, and Achilles International-Nashville is thrilled to be participating for the 3rd year in a row. Last year our organization received $8,000.00 in donations during this day of giving.
The 2019 charitable event will help to support our programs, as well as, celebrate the good work of participating Middle Tennessee nonprofits, schools, and religious institutions. In the past several years, this region’s generosity was astonishing as our community rallied together to raise more than $6.75 million in 24 hours for nearly 800 area organizations.
How does The Big Payback work? Kicking off at midnight on Wednesday, May 2rd donors can donate online to The Big Payback participants located in or providing services to the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee. Your contributions to Achilles International-Nashville could be amplified by additional incentives, bonuses and prizes made possible by The Big Payback sponsors throughout the day. If you are going to give, this IS the day to do so!
For more information, please visit www.TheBigPayback.org and thank you in advance for considering donating to Achilles International-Nashville on this day of opportunity!
February 16th– Hot Chocolate 5k/15k
Location: Bicentennial Mall State Park
Time: 7:00 am
February 23rd– Tom King Classic 5k/Half Marathon
Location: Nissan Stadium
Time: 7:55 wheelchair start, 8:00 half marathon start, 8:15 5k start
April 13th – Purity Moosic City DairyPure® Dash
Location: Metro Center
Time: 5k starts 7:30; 15K Starts 8:00
April 27th– St. Jude’s Rock ‘N’ Roll, 5k/half/full marathon
Location: 8th Ave & Broadway
Time: 7:15 marathon and half marathon start, 6:45 5k start
Achilles guides serve as the athlete’s eyes, ears, guide, motivator, and most importantly…trusted running partner! Guides help to welcome Achilles athletes to the wonderful world of running, by promoting friendship, encouraging the athlete, helping them build self-confidence with running activities, & having fun!
When you ask a guide how they feel about guiding they generally always respond that they get back much more than they give.
Things to ask your athlete prior to guiding
Achilles athletes have a wide range of disabilities. It is critical that guides and athletes have good, open communication. When you are assigned to an Achilles athlete, don’t be afraid to ask the following:
What you will do as a guide
As an Achilles guide, you might do the following:
If anything else is needed or requested, bring it to the attention of your chapter leaders. (Note: Guides for travel races might have more responsibility, and these will be clearly outlined before trips).
Running with a visually impaired athlete
Running with a wheelchair or handcycle athlete
Sarah Hart is the founder of a local non-profit chapter of Achilles International. Achilles partners athletes with and with out disabilities so that all can enjoy the sport of running and participating in running activities and events. Sarah started the Nashville chapter about 6 and a half years ago when she recognized a need in the community for athletes with disabilities. She is the sole reason our Nashville chapter exists today. Without Sarah’s dedication and her vision, we would not be able to offer this great opportunity to those in the Middle Tennessee area. Sarah began this journey by gathering a group of folks together from various non-profits, running clubs and healthcare companies. After sharing her idea for a Nashville chapter of Achilles International with the group, she realized there was, indeed, a need for such a service here. She began to advertise this new opportunity to The National Wheelcats (an adaptive sports organization), the Tennessee School for the Blind, the Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes, the Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital recreation therapy department, various orthotic and prosthetic companies and many more. By the time our first practice rolled around in April of 2012, she had garnered support from many individuals in the community. The first practice had one athlete with a disability.
Since then, our chapter has continued to grow thanks to the strong foundation and efforts put forth by Sarah, members of our Board of Directors, volunteer guides and other athletes. It is now one of the largest Achilles chapters in the world. Sarah also coordinated our first ever Hope and Possibility (Achilles signature race)1 Miler and 5 Miler in the spring of 2013. We are about to have our 5th annual run in October. This race brings together approximately 650 runners of all abilities and volunteers.
Sarah has such a passion for helping those with disabilities reach their potential, and she inspires all of us daily. She is truly a hero to all of us here in Middle Tennessee.
Most everyone in our Achille Nashville Chapter knew Peter Pressman or at least has heard about Peter from those of us here at Achilles or from the running community. Peter was one of the original founders of Achilles, helping to shape the club into the organization it is today. He was with Achilles since the beginning and his fingerprint is on everything we do today! He was an active guide, board member, cheerleader and supporter of all. He exemplified the mission of Achilles, a place for everybody, regardless of pace, age, distance, or ability. He believed in everyone and made everyone believe they were the most special person in the world…in fact, when you were in his presence you were.
We would like to recognize as the recipient of the first Peter Pressman Guide of the Year Award to Ginger Roelle. Ginger has guided most every athlete here at Achilles. She does so week after week, time after time, walk or run, short or long distance, she gives her all to each and every athlete. Ginger always has a positive and encouraging word for the athletes and the other guides as well. She is a role model of a guide, with her consistency in attendance, her flexibility, her willingness to go over and above…Ginger, we are so fortunate to have you. You exemplify the spirit of the Finish Upright and With a Smile slogan of Peter’s….
This week’s spotlight is Achilles Nashville. Their mission is to empower people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream running events in order to promote personal achievement.
Every Wednesday evening around 6:30 pm, athletes decked out in bright highlighter yellow shirts, headlamps, and reflective gear gather at McCabe community center in Sylvan Park. These athletes are part of Achilles Nashville, which works to promote fitness without boundaries or limitations. Achilles Nashville pairs athletes with disabilities such as visual or physical impairments, with athletes/guides without disabilities. Together they train and complete races throughout the year.
Achilles Nashville began meeting in 2012, and has since become the largest and fastest growing Achilles chapter in the United States. They’ve sent athletes all over the country to participate in races. Runners have qualified for Boston and completed the NYC marathon. Most recently, 27 of their athletes and guides made the trip to Memphis to run St. Jude Memphis Marathon and half marathon.
One of those athletes was Annie. Annie, currently a student at Belmont University, is visually impaired and ran track all four years in high school. “When I got to college, I just figured I was done running forever. I really missed being able to be active with a group of friends. Then, I heard about Achilles Nashville and am so happy to be running again!” she says.
Annie and her guide, Taylor, just completed the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon together and are excited to start planning their races for 2019.
Annie and Taylor are a great pair because they’re similar in height, stride length, and pace, which is important according to Annie. Taylor does a great job as Annie’s guide, cluing her in to when the next turn will be and even what kind of Christmas decorations surround them.
Fleet Feet Nashville employee and avid Achilles Nashville volunteer, Minna, has been volunteering with Achilles since spring of 2013. Minna and her sister, Lizzy, who has been an Achilles athlete since spring of 2012, just completed another full marathon as part of the St. Jude Memphis Marathon.
“Achilles brought a different perspective and appreciation for running into my life. Running is more than just exercising and being fast, it’s about appreciating the ability to move, roll, or run. Running used to be a “me focused hobby” but now it’s about giving back to others and sharing my passion through the role of being an Achilles guide!” says Minna.
Through involvement with Achilles, athletes gain measurable physical strength and the sense of accomplishment builds confidence. That confidence transfers over into other parts of their lives.
When you sign up for training and choose Achilles Nashville as your charity, your training fee will go towards program costs, which may include race registration for one of their athletes or even a hand-cycle or race wheelchair for an Achilles athlete. We’re proud to partner with Achilles Nashville so they can so they can continue providing opportunities for athletes of all abilities to experience the life-changing benefits of running and being active.
Sign up for Spring 2019 Half and Full Marathon Training and choose Achilles Nashville as your charity!
Achilles Nashville meets on Wednesdays, 6:30 pm, at McCabe Community Center. They will resume practices after the New Year. To learn more about Achilles Nashville, click here.
This year our Chapter lost 2 of its long time members, Mike Moberg and Peter Pressman. At our annual Holiday Party on December 12, 2018 a special award in honor and in memory of these two people went to one athlete and one guide.
Mike Moberg was one of the original Achilles athletes. He was an avid hand-cycler who dedicated his life to health and fitness following an accident in 2009 that left him paralyzed from waist down.
The transformation that fitness and Achilles made to Mike’s life is an incredible story. (see Remembering Mike Moberg)
We have an athlete who exemplifies the qualities we all think of when we talk about Mike. This athlete also began with Achilles early on as one of the original athletes. This athlete, like Mike, was a bit over his ideal weight and not overly athletic. However, things changed for him over the past couple of years as he trained hard, dedicated his time and energy towards fitness and reaching new goals. Despite some medical complications during training, he persevered, focused and determined to complete the NYC Marathon. This award, the 1styear of the Mike Moberg Athlete of the Year Award goes to Dwaine Jones, an athlete and a champion in our eyes!
Achilles Nashville recently shared the sad news of Mike Moberg’s passing on November 4, 2018. Mike was one of the original Achilles Nashville athletes, starting soon after the Nashville Chapter was founded in 2012. He rode an orange handcycle from Achilles with a bright neon flag waving behind him. For years, Mike came to practice each week on Wednesday nights, always in his neon yellow Achilles logo shirt. He put in many a mile with Achilles guides and friends on the Richland Creek Greenway, in the neighborhoods around McCabe Park, and in Belle Meade. Any runner who frequents the Belle Meade Boulevard and Percy Warner would know who Mike was if you mentioned the guy on the orange handcycle and the neon yellow shirt.
Mike was in a 1-car accident on his way home from work on the evening of January 19, 2009. He suffered a spinal cord injury which left him paralyzed with no feeling or movement from the waist down. During recovery he looked for ways to stay active and exercise. While he had been approximately 300 pounds (he was a great chef it seems!) prior to his accident; after his injury, he became a chair user. He quickly realized that he had to lose weight and become stronger to be independent and do the things he wanted to do in life. Thus began an exercise routine that included Achilles and workouts in the gym. He would often push his wheelchair up hills in different parking garages for up to 2-3 hours. Additionally, he changed his diet to eat healthier and lost over half his body weight as a result. Mike was totally dedicated to his fitness and healthy lifestyle. But probably of all the adapted sports, Mike loved handcycling.
Included here is an article on Mike from the Shepherd Center where he did much of his rehab after his accident years ago and a YouTube video where Mike talks about the importance of changing his lifestyle once he became a wheelchair user.
|Memorial Service for Mike Moberg
A Memorial service will be held at 2 pm, Saturday, December 1, 2018, Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway, Nashville TN 37203
Reception to follow the service.
Mike’s father, David and his mother, Catherine have asked that donations in honor of Mike be made to Achilles Nashville to support equipment needs of the non-profit program.
Do you have a favorite memory of Mike from a race?
We have two favorite memories of Mike from his races:
His first marathon was the 2013 Nashville Country Music Marathon. It was cold and rainy. Really miserable weather. And Mike had the great opportunity to ride that race with Achilles founder, Dick Traum. I think they were the only two hand-cyclists that year. His very first comment on finishing the race was “I NEVER want to do that again!” It took Mike several hours to warm up after the race. But by the next day he was hooked. Dick Traum was a great inspiration to him, and Mike went on to do a number of marathons all over the country over the next few years.
In November of 2013 Mike did his first of two New York City Marathons. And the highlight for Mike that first year was experiencing the tremendous cheers from the crowd when he crossed the bridge onto Manhattan and turned the corner onto First Avenue. There were crowds cheering all along the route up to that point. But every time Mike talked about the huge cheers that he heard when he crossed into Manhattan for the first time, it brought tears to his eyes. It was a special, once-in-a-lifetime moment of joy that I know stuck with him all his life.
What was Mike up to the past few years?
Mike did 15 or 16 different races, some marathons and some shorter races, from 2012 to 2016. We love looking at all the medals that he earned over those 5 years. The last two years were tough though, and Michael experienced a number of serious physical ailments and setbacks. During those two years he wasn’t able to ride his handcycle or even work out like he wanted to. We know that he missed that.
How did you see a change in Mike with Achilles?
Achilles opened a new world to Mike. Achilles gave him both the courage and the ability to compete in races around the country on his handcycle. He traveled with the Nashville Achilles team and learned how to do a major race. The team helped with transportation and equipment and guides and meals and accommodations. Most of all they provided the camaraderie and team spirit which really motivated all of the athletes. At the races Mike met some of the wounded warriors and athletes from other Achilles chapters who were also competing on handcycles. He loved hanging out with them, learning from, and sharing experiences. And he kept in touch with several of them via email between their races. Achilles International became Mike’s community for several years.
Can you explain why donating to Achilles is important to you?
After Mike’s accident in 2009 and his three-month rehabilitation he was really looking for a way to continue to improve the quality of his life. He was working out a lot at Beyond Therapy in Nashville and fitness was becoming part of his daily routine. Often, as part of his workout, he would go and push in his regular wheelchair on the uphill ramps in a couple of different parking garages in Nashville. He would do that for 2 or 3 hours at a time and loved the endorphin rush and sense of well-being that it gave him. Achilles started the Nashville chapter in 2012 and Mike was one of their first athletes. When Achilles gave Mike his first hand cycle to use, a whole new world opened up to him. It would be such a great way to honor Mike’s memory by helping to fund the purchase of additional equipment by the Nashville chapter so that others can have their life changed like Mike did.
Our Achilles Nashville Chapter will miss Mike and all our thoughts are with the family during this time.
In 2014, Achilles Nashville hosted its first annual Hope & Possibility® Race in May at the Dominican Campus in Nashville. Hope & Possibility® is the signature race of Achilles International, founded in 2003 by Trisha Meili to honor her remarkable recovery, whose NY Times best-selling book is titled I Am the Central Park Jogger, A Story of Hope and Possibility. The Hope & Possibility® Race, welcomes athletes of all abilities, from elite runners to walkers to wheelers.
While typical age and gender awards are presented, the race also features award categories for visually impaired athletes, amputees, ambulatory disabled athletes, manual wheelchair users, power wheelchair users, and handcyclists. Race registration in just the first year was over 600 people, and 10% of those were registered in a disability category.
Welcome to Achilles Nashville!
We are so excited for you to join us at our weekly practices now! As you may have seen on our website, our group meets every Wednesday evening from 6:30-8:00 PM at the McCabe Community Center in Sylvan Park. It is helpful to come a few minutes early on your first night so you can get a brief orientation to Achilles!
We will be adding you to our weekly email newsletter. Upon receipt of this email (emails generally go out on Monday mornings) at the beginning of each week, please RSVP for that Wednesday or Saturday practice (when we are training). It is very helpful for us to know who is coming so we can pair athletes and guides appropirately. But please come whenever you can, even if you don’t find time to RSVP. We will always welcome you!
In the meantime if you get a chance please look around our website. There is lots of information for guides and athletes on our site.
We look forward to seeing you soon!