Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Vets Inspire at Freep Marathon

By: Toni Cunningham | October 16, 2014

On your mark, get set, go! Serious marathoners of Metro Detroit, get ready to carbo-load and stretch out those muscles. The 37th Annual Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon takes place this Sunday, Oct. 19. The event includes a marathon, half-marathon, relay race, 5K and kids run.

The Achilles International Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans are one of the many groups taking part in the Freep Marathon. Achilles International, which aims to “enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics in order to promote personal achievement, enhance self esteem and lower barriers to living a fulfilling life,” created the Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans in 2004.

(Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

(Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

The program serves to adapt to the precise needs of wounded members of the U.S. military. Those who participate are given a hand-crank bicycle and special training that allows them to compete in marathons across the country. These hand cycles are ideal for people with injuries resulting in amputation or paralysis, because unlike push rim wheelchairs, they don’t require the user to lean forward when racing. This year, 31 Freedom Team veterans will participate in the Free Press Marathon, proving that not everyone who takes part in the race does so on foot.

“General Motors and the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers have sponsored the Achilles Freedom Team’s participation in the Detroit Marathon since 2011. In addition to race sponsorship, GM and the MDCD provide allstar treatment in order to show our thanks for their sacrifice and give back to those who give the most,” Bailey O’Shea, account executive at Jack Morton Worldwide, said.

(Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

(Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

The Achilles Freedom Team members have a weekend full of activities ahead of them while in Detroit. After getting picked up by GM Shuttles at the airport on Friday, the team will be treated to dinner at Les Stanford Chevrolet that night, followed by a handcycle clinic and dinner at the Lingenfelter Collection on Saturday. Sunday is the big day, and the race begins promptly at 6:58 a.m. Afterwards, Freedom Team participants will enjoy breakfast in a heated tent, courtesy of WDIV, then a screening of “Fury” in the late afternoon and dinner at Atwater Brewery in the evening.

This group of brave servicemen and women who have suffered not only physical, but emotional wounds, possess a determination and drive that is remarkable. The fact that these men and women compete in marathons all across the United States is nothing short of inspirational.

“Achilles International is an inspiring organization that helps men, women and children. Metro Detroiters will be inspired by this group by observing their continued perseverance. Despite overcoming many obstacles, some including loss of limbs, internal organs, multiple surgeries and PTSD, these athletes still choose to challenge and improve themselves. They don’t let their injuries define them,” O’Shea said.

(Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

(Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

The Freedom Team was created in order to build confidence and physical strength, as well as create achievable goals for each participant. Oftentimes participants begin by training for a smaller race, such as Achilles’ “Hope and Possibility” race, which is less daunting at five miles.

Achilles International is a non-profit organization that has members and chapters in 65 plus locations around the United States and overseas. The organization was created in 1983 by Dick Traum, an above the knee amputee who years earlier, began running and within a year, became the first amputee to run the New York City Marathon. At the time, it was called the Achilles Track Club, which is now known as Achilles International.

Hats off to the brave men and women of the Achilles team racing on Sunday, as well as everyone else taking part in the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon this weekend. Your Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers wish you all the best of luck!

For more information on the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, visit http://www.achillesinternational.org.