Achilles Nashville Chapter History

2012


  • On April 18th, 2012, Achilles International – Nashville Chapter hosted its Inaugural workout at the McCabe Park Community Center.
  • Theresa Khayyam became the first Achilles Nashville athlete to complete the Country Music Half Marathon. Due to a viral infection, she had become completely blind two years before, and told herself she wanted to run a half marathon on her 40th birthday. She completed the race with three Achilles Guides, a HUGE smile, and her family cheering her across the finish line.
  • Our weekly Wednesday night runs were quickly well-attended with an average of 10 athletes and 25-30 volunteers each week.
  • Achilles International brought us 3 new hand-cycles ($4,000 each) to be used by athletes in our chapter.
  • Other Races: Titans 5K (14), Mayors Challenge 5K (8), Boulevard Bolt (8).
  • Achilles International – Nashville Chapter received a restricted grant in the amount of $5000 from the James W. Pickle Foundation to help athletes with physical challenges purchase assistive medical devices (such as wheelchairs, orthotics, prosthesis, or braces). Austin Crymes, an athlete with Cerebral Palsy, received a Bioness electrostimulation device that helped him to walk without falling as a result of this generous grant. Meet Austin: https://youtu.be/IG3vTWojW4Y
  • Achilles International, in partnership with Cigna, sent one Achilles Nashville athlete and his family to Dallas, TX for the Mayors 5K.
  • Mayor Karl Dean, as part of his 2nd Annual Walk 100 Miles Challenge, walked with our chapter on December 19th, 2012. He then attended our 1st Annual Holiday Party at the McCabe Golf Course Clubhouse.
  • By year end, we had quickly become the second largest chapter in the nation behind New York City, with 48 registered athletes and 122 registered volunteers.
  • Video highlights of our first year: https://youtu.be/R7s6D-5SayQ

2013


  • In January, Achilles International, in partnership with Cigna, sent one athlete and a family member to the Disney Half Marathon.
  • In May, six Achilles athletes participated in the Music Row Fitness Crawl, sponsored by Results Fitness, Shakti Yoga, and Lulu Lemon, raising $2000 for our local chapter.
  • In July, 10 athletes participated in the Nashville Striders’ Firecracker 5000, with Achilles Nashville earning ~$500 as a beneficiary of the race.
  • In August, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean came to our Volunteer Guide Appreciation night, presenting Nashville Chapter leaders with Certificates of Recognition for dedicated service to Nashville’s Special Needs Athletes.
  • In September, we adopted a formal working Advisory Board, with Melanie Yappen as President.
  • In October, Joe Shaw became the first visually impaired man to compete in the Warrior Dash.
  • In November, four Achilles Nashville athletes and their guides completed to the New York City Marathon.
  • Athletes and guides attended the Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars football game.
  • We hosted our 2nd Annual Holiday Party with over 80 people in attendance.
  • Other Races: Tom King 3K/5K/Half Marathon (5), Country Music Mini/Half/Full Marathon (13), Titans 5K (9), Music City Triathalon (1), Franklin Classic (1), Women’s Half Marathon (2), Mayors 5K, Boulevard Bolt, and Snowflake 5K.
  • We created a Giving Matters profile, and received a Discretionary Grant from the Community Foundation in the amount of $4200.

2014


  • In January, Achilles International, in partnership with Cigna, sent one athlete and a family member to the Disney 5K.
  • In April, we partnered with ABLE Youth, and participated in the Country Music Marathon (1), Half Marathon (5) and 5K (10).
  • In May, Achilles International-Nashville Chapter hosted our 1st Annual Hope & Possibility® 5-Miler and 1-Miler at the Dominican Campus. Over 600 people attended, including Achilles International Founder Dick Traum, and Trisha Meili, author of I Am the Central Park Jogger, A Story of Hope and Possibility. Able-bodied athletes and athletes with disabilities competed side-by-side, celebrating the hope, possibility, determination, and accomplishment that we all share. Highlights: https://youtu.be/QEk10MU9Gh0
  • In early Fall, we added a Saturday run at the Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital.
  • In October, three visually impaired athletes dressed up as “Three Blind Mice” and ran the Octoberfest 5K.
  • We started our 1st Annual Halloween Run around the Richland West End Neighborhood.
  • In November, five Nashville athletes competed in the New York City Marathon.
  • Achilles International donated two additional hand-cycles to our local chapter’s athletes.
  • We purchased our first hand-cycle trainer.
  • With proceeds from our Hope & Possibility® event, and a very generous Memorial Foundation Grant ($20,000), we hired our first dedicated Executive Director, Carrie Redmon, to lead our chapter in 2015.
  • Other Races: Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, Tom King Half Marathon & 5K, Firecracker 5000, Franklin Classic, Women’s Half Marathon, Shelby Bottoms Boogie, Mayors 5K (10), Boulevard Bolt (4).
  • We celebrated our 3rd Annual Holiday Party with over 90 people in attendance.

2015


  • In January, Achilles International – Nashville Chapter and Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital co-hosted a showing of the documentary film Endless Abilities at the Scarritt-Bennett Center. This documentary follows four best friends as they drove across the country in search of adaptive sports for individuals with physical disabilities. From rehabilitation patients to Paralympic athletes, their cameras captured the reality of broken boundaries and common goals among all who are active. They went rock climbing with the blind, played soccer with quadriplegics, and swam with those with muscular dystrophy, to name a few. Through their journey, they learned that sports really are the great equalizer, unifying people of all abilities on a level playing field.
  • In March of 2015, the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Nashville Bar Association hosted their 12th Annual Race Judicata, with proceeds of ~18K benefiting both ABLE Youth and Achilles International – Nashville Chapter.
  • In April 2015, we welcomed 25 athletes and volunteer guides from the Achilles Philadelphia Chapter to our wonderful city of Nashville. We hosted a pre-race dinner at the Baker Donelson Building downtown. Then over 40 athletes and guides from Achilles Nashville, ABLE Youth, and Achilles Philadelphia competed in Nashville’s Country Music Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K.
  • In May 2015, we hosted our 2nd Hope & Possibility® 5-Miler and 1-Miler, with over 650 participants. Austin Crymes, a 21-year-old with cerebral palsy, completed his first 5-miler in 4 hours and 10 minutes. At his request, we played the Rocky theme song as he crossed the Finish Line. Highlights: https://youtu.be/QEk10MU9Gh0
  • Three athletes competed in the NYC Marathon, and one athlete competed in the Connecticut Half Marathon.
  • Other Races: Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, Firecracker 5000, Color Vibe, Shelby Bottom Boogie, the Mayors 5K, Boulevard Bolt, and Rudolph Run.
  • We purchased our 2nd handcycle trainer.
  • In December, we celebrated another great year with ~ 90 members of our Achilles’ Nashville family at our 3rd Annual Holiday Party.

2016


  • In January, Achilles International, in partnership with Cigna, sent 4 athletes and their guides to the Disney Half Marathon (3) and 5K (1). Cigna provided 2-day hopper passes for the group.
  • Other Races: Hot Chocolate 15K(2)/5K(4), Special Kids 15K (2)/5K(1), Purity Moosic Dairy Dash (1)
  • In March, ten athletes participated in Race Judicata, hosted by the Young Lawyer Division of the Nashville Bar Association. We were again a beneficiary, receiving a very generous $8,912.
  • Four athletes competed in the St. Jude Half Marathon, and seven participated in the 5K.
  • We purchased our first portable wheelchair racing training roller.
  • We hosted our 3rd Annual Hope & Possibility® at the Dominican Campus, again welcoming Trisha Meili, and celebrating the hope and possibility in our great Nashville. Highlights: https://youtu.be/l6lcCfogC28
  • Nine athletes participated in the Firecracker 5000, hosted by the Nashville Striders, again benefiting the Nashville Striders Youth Fund and Achilles International – Nashville Chapter.
  • In August, one athlete ran the Nashville Half Full Half Marathon, and a second athlete ran the 10K.
  • In October, one athlete and guide to traveled to compete in the Denver Half Marathon
  • In November, three athletes to traveled to compete in the Philadelphia Half Marathon and 8K
  • In November, six athletes traveled to compete in the New York City Marathon

2017


  • Presentation to Special Ed class (Robbie Hampton’s) at Lipscomb University was given by the Executive Director and Asst. Directors of Achilles in an effort to bring awareness to the students and offer volunteer opportunities for SpecEd students (Achilles approved site for hours)
  • In January, one athlete traveled to Houston to compete in both the 5k and the Half Marathon (handcycle division); 2 athletes and 3 guides participated in the annual Zoo Run in Nashville
  • Achilles Executive Director, along with Assistant Directors attend a meeting with Friends Life staff to discuss the opportunity for Achilles to do community outreach, as a result Friends Life (FL) Community will become an outreach partner with Achilles Nashville providing weekly workouts at the FL location for those involved in this group.
  • In February, one wheelchair athlete competed in the Predator’s 5k; 10 athletes and 13 guides participated in the Hot Chocolate race in Nashville, 5 in the 5k, 5 in the 15k
  • In February, one blind athlete traveled to Disney in Orlando to compete in the Princess Half Marathon
  • March 1, Achilles Executive Director and Assistant Directors did presentation at Lipscomb University for the IDEAL students, their families, and faculty of IDEAL to bring awareness to our organization and invite participation
  • In March, several Achilles guides and athletes were invited to participate in Pint Night, an awareness event put on by Mountain High Outfitters. Achilles along with other programs that provide sports related activities set up displays to share information with the community.
  • In March, 6 athletes (3 in 5k, 3 in Half Marathon) and 6 guides participated in The Tom King Classic in Nashville. Achilles had a booth set up for sharing information and Save the Date cards for H&P 2017
  • Our new Achilles International Nashville website https://achillesnashville.org/, went live as of early April!
  • On April 17th, a blind athlete, Stephanie Zundel, accompanied by her guides, Harvey Freeman and Amy Harris became first Achilles Nashville athlete to compete in the Boston Marathon. Stephanie received much coverage for this accomplishment. Highlights from StyleBlueprint:
  •  https://t.e2ma.net/message/4wjs6i/gywgzm
  • In April, Achilles athletes and guides participated in the Race Judicata, hosted by the Young Lawyers Division of the Nashville Bar Association. Both ABLE Youth and Achilles are beneficiaries of this race. 8 athletes were in the 5k, 11 in the 10k, 18 guides assisted
  • Executive Directive presented information about Achilles to the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) at their annual meeting
  • Also in April, 12 athletes (3 athletes doing 5k, 1 doing full, 7 doing the half) and 15 guides participated in the St Jude Rock and Roll Marathon Series. 1st handcycle half marathon for 1 athlete, 1st half marathon for another
  • Achilles celebrated its 5th year anniversary during the Wednesday night practice on April 26
  • On April 29, for the 2nd time, Achilles athletes were represented at the Warrior Dash, an obstacle run that includes going through mud pits, climbing net ropes, jumping over a line of fire. Three blind athletes along with three guides braved this race.
  • In May, two Achilles athletes (1 in racing chair) and one guide participated in the Titans 5k
  • In May, one Achilles athlete and one guide traveled to Disneyland to participate in the Tinkerbell Half Marathon
  • In May, one Achilles athlete, along with three guides participated in the Geist Half Marathon in Indianapolis, 1other guide participated in the race as a solo registered runner.
  • Achilles participated in The Community Foundation’s Big Payback, which occurred May 3rd. This effort brought 96 donors to give Achilles Nashville a total of $8,345.00!. https://www.thebigpayback.org/achillesnashville.
  • Achilles welcomes its first ever intern, a doctoral student at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. This student will spend three weeks with Achilles in May then will return to complete a 3-month apprenticeship with Achilles Nashville (supervised by Amy Harris) from September 18th until December 14
  • On May 13, Achilles guides and athletes were invited back to participate in another Pint Night, an awareness event put on by Mountain High Outfitters. Achilles along with other programs that provide sports related activities set up displays to share information with the community.
  • On May 24, Achilles staff attend the Awards Banquet and Ceremony (held prior the Tennessee Disability MegaConference) to accept The Arc of Tennessee’s Agency of Distinction Award on behalf of Achilles International – Nashville. The Arc has a 60- year history of promoting and protecting the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and providing them the opportunity to live full, satisfying and self-determined lives as valued and contributing members of their communities.
  • On June 5, Achilles was welcomed at the Green Hills Run Club (GHRC) for a community awareness night. Achilles shared info on the Hope and Possibility® Race and weekly runs, passing out Save the Date cards and drawing for (1) free registration.
  • Farm Burger Fundraiser brought out many Achilles members, their families, and friends. Achilles received 10% of the proceeds from sales from 4-9 PM, totaling $300 for the evening.
  • Chipotle fundraiser provided Achilles with 50% of the proceeds from dinners purchased between 5-9 PM. Achilles earned approximately $700 for the evening. Participants showed a flyer or mentioned Achilles at the register to get the donation. A large portion of the GHRC participated after the weekly run at Fleet Feet.
  • Achilles met for the 2nd time with Friend’s Life group. Achilles will partner with Friend’s Life, in a community outreach summer/ fall program to prepared approximately 20 young adults with intellectual disabilities to participate in the 1-mile or 5-mile Hope & Possibility® Training will begin in August.
  • Athleta joins Achilles at weekly practice in preparation for July Achilles “in-store” public awareness event July 1, 2017.
  • July 4th Achilles athletes and guides ran in the Firecracker 5000 hosted by Nashville Striders. Achilles is beneficiary for this race.
  • July 21 & 28, 2017 Achilles visited Friends Life to hand out information about the upcoming community outreach with Achilles/ Friends Life. Information and flyers and save the date cards were shared with families and staff of FL.
  • Achilles Nashville participated (along with Vanderbilt IRIS Center/ Spec Ed) in a booth exhibit for 600 MNPS Special Education teachers. Teacher professional development was at White’s Creek High School, participants learned about Achilles, Hope and Possibility® and volunteer/ guide opportunities as how students who are transitioning from HS could participate in Achilles
  • August 4, 2017, 1st Achilles kicked off the Community Outreach Program with Friends Life at Sevier Park Community Center. fourteen Friends, three FL staff, and eight Achilles volunteers participated. Due to rain, the group ran or walked on the inside track.
  • August 5, 2017, Fall training for the Disney Wine and Dine Half marathon (will have five Achilles athletes and five guides and a coach traveling to Orlando in November 2017)
  • August 11, 2017, 2nd Achilles/ Friends Life group training, seven Friends, two FL staff, and nine Achilles volunteers participated. One additional volunteer came from the Parallon Group/ HCA (through a parent of a FL work place volunteer program).
  • August 12, lululemon hosted the CA International Marathon and Disney Wine and Dine training groups with a run from the lululemon store in Green Hills Hill Center. Three Achilles athletes, five Achilles volunteers/ guides, and a staff member from lululemon ran a three-mile course and finished back at the store. Juice Bar provided snacks at the end.
  • August 12, lululemon hosted the CA International Marathon and Disney Wine and Dine training groups with a run from the lululemon store in Green Hills Hill Center. Three Achilles athletes, five Achilles volunteers/ guides, and a staff member from lululemon ran a three-mile course and finished back at the store. Juice Bar provided snacks at the end.
  • August 28th, 2017 Achilles gave a presentation at Lipscomb University for education majors regarding service opportunities
  • August 29th, 2017 Achilles gave a presenation at Lipscomb University for special education majors for 18 students
  • August 31st, 2017 Achilles gave a presentation at Lipscomb University to another special education class of 30 students
  • September 7th, 2017 Achilles participated in Lipscomb University’s service and learning together fair (SALT), a booth exhibit to recruit volunteers and spread community awareness.
  • September-October, 2017 Achilles went to schools, running clubs ,and met with beneficiaries regarding Hope & Possible in order to reach as many people as possible
  • October 7th, 2017 9 athletes and 13 guides participated in the Bison Boogie 5k by Lipscomb University, supporting their IDEAL program that supporting students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their pursuit of college education at Lipscomb.
  • October 10th, 2017 Achilles fundraiser at Kung Fu cancelled due to restaurant issues.
  • October 13th, 2017 Achilles completed training program with Friends Life. 9 Friends went on to participate in Hope & Possibility.
  • October 21st, 2017, we hosted our 4th Annual Hope & Possibility® at the Dominican Campus. Over 400 athletes and over 150 volunteers participated.
  • October 25th, 2017 Achilles participated virtually in the Dash at Dusk, a 5k to support the Spirit of Discovery Park, a 100% accessible amusement park being built in St. Louis. Blind athlete Annie Donnell is an intern with the St. Louis organization.
  • October 29th, 2017 2 Achilles athletes travelled to Japan for the Oita marathon. Unfortunatly the race was cancelled due to inclement weather.
  • November 5th, 2017 3 athletes and 5 guides participated in the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Orlando. Sara Solomon PR’d with a time of 2:28:32
  • November 11th, 2017 Achilles annual Bruegger’s run on the Boulevard with breakfast afterwards.
  • November 23rd, 2017 Achilles participated in the Boulevard Bolt 5 miler. 7 athletes and 9 guides were in attendance.
  • December 3rd, 2017 7 visually impaired and blind athletes and 8 guides participated in the California International Relay in Sacramento (Stephanie participated in full marathon, other athletes completed half marathon relay). Stephanie Zundel qualified for Boston for the second time.  Annie Donnell completed her first half marathon with a time of 2:27:34. Dwaine Jones PR’d  with a time of 3:09:41.
  • December 20th, 2017, Achilles annual Christmas Party