Achilles Ottawa is a club whose objective is to empower runners who are blind and visually impaired along with their guides in an environment of support and encouragement. We are affiliated with Achilles International, a non-profit organization formed by Dick Traum in 1983 which today has chapters and members in over 70 countries. In 1976, Dick Traum, an above- the-knee amputee, found himself approaching middle age and out of shape. After joining a local YMCA, Dick began running – small distances at first and then, eventually several miles. Within the year, Dick became the first amputee to run the New York City Marathon. For Dick the experience was life changing, leading to a powerful sense of achievement and self-esteem.
Dick Traum’s achievement at the New York City Marathon inspired Terry Fox, then a 20-year old Canadian who had lost one leg to cancer, to begin the Marathon of Hope – a cross-Canada run to raise money for cancer. In turn, Dick Traum’s admiration for the heroism and accomplishments of Terry Fox motivated him to found the Achilles Track Club, now known as Achilles International.
Achilles International was Dick’s way of introducing people with a disability to the kind of athletic opportunities which changed his own life. Every day, in parks, gyms, and tracks all over the world, Achilles provides athletes with disabilities with a community of support. Able-bodied volunteers and disabled runners are encouraged to come together to train in a supportive environment. Within this environment, runners gain measurable physical strength and build confidence through their sense of accomplishment. For some, this translates into the pursuit of high level athletic success; for all, it contributes to a life experience which goes far beyond the simple act of running.
While Achilles Ottawa is primarily a running club for individuals who are blind or visually impaired and their guides, our door is open to everyone. We believe, in keeping with the philosophy of Achilles International, that sport provides a way to accomplish our main objective: to bring hope, inspiration and the joys of achievement to people of all abilities.