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.