Half a dozen Achilles athletes who had intended to compete in the November 4 NYC Marathon were given the opportunity to take part in this Sunday's Philadelphia Marathon. The six Achilles athletes, who all have various disabilities, are thrilled to put their NYC Marathon training to use in the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday, November 18.
Notable Achilles participants include Charlie Plaskon, Amy McDonaugh, and John Benedetto.
Charlie Plaskon, 69 and a native of Long Island, New York, has been visually impaired since birth and didn't start running until after retirement. The granddad of four has since completed eight Ironmans and more than 30 marathons, all while tethered to seeing guides. Plaskon completed the 2011 NYC Marathon, the 2012 Boston Marathon, and the 2012 NYC Ironman as part of the Achilles paratriathlon team. He will be competing in the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon in place of the 2012 NYC Marathon.
Amy McDonaugh, 35, is a legally blind mother of three who will also be competing in this year's Philadelphia Marathon. After being diagnosed with Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), a condition that causes blood vessels to tangle in the cheek, McDonaugh lost essentially three-fourths of her vision when doctors shot alcohol and silicone into her cheek to save her life. McDonaugh went for her first run as an adult in 2009 and has been running ever since. She finished the California International Marathon in 2:49, which qualifies her as an Elite runner in the Philadelphia Marathon.
John Benedetto, 26, lost movement below his chest after an injury sustained during a 2009 swimming accident. He later competed in the 2010 and 2011 NYC Marathons using a hand-cycle wheelchair, and had planned to do the same during this year's NYC Marathon until it was canceled following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Benedetto, who trains roughly 15 hours a week, was thrilled to learn that his training would not go to waste after he gained last-minute entry into the Philadelphia Marathon.
Achilles participates in sixteen marathons throughout the year. Their involvement offers a chance for disabled athletes to improve their health and fitness, bond with peers facing similar challenges, and reconnect with their families.
About Achilles International: A non-profit organization, Achilles International was founded in 1983 and currently holds chapters and members in over 65 locations within the United States and abroad. Every day, in parks, gyms and tracks all over the world, Achilles provides athletes with disabilities with a community of support. Over the years, Achilles has developed numerous specialized programs for children and war veterans. Achilles Kids provides training, racing opportunities and an in-school program for children with disabilities, while its Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans program brings running programs and marathon opportunities to disabled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. For more information, please visit: AchillesInternational.org.