As runners lined up in their corrals before the start of the Achilles Hope and Possibility 5-Mile, singer Gloria Gaynor delivered a message of encouragement to all athletes present: “Remember: It’s not the fastest, but the one who endures to the end who wins the race.”
She mentioned that her hit song “I Will Survive” is a favorite among Achilles International members, commenting, “It speaks to the tenacity of its participants,” before telling the crowd, “So when it gets tough, hum the tune, sing the words, and you’ll get through it."
Gaynor’s words reflected well on the theme of the race—enduring through trials toward accomplishing one’s goals—and many athletes in the field personified that spirit of persistence
One such athlete, Matthew White, completed the race with a prosthetic leg designed for running. The U.S. Army sergeant served two tours in Afghanistan, and he has joined the Achilles International group based out of Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, to continue his life-long love of fitness.
“It feels good to be able to run and to do something that feels normal,” White said after the race.
The Bronx’s Chris Wilkinson, a blind runner, completed the course guided by an Achilles International volunteer. After finishing, Wilkinson expressed gratitude for the opportunities that the club has presented to individuals like him: “It gives us a chance to be with people, and to participate in great events, and to be out there with everyone.”
Perhaps no race participant summed up the spirit of the day better than Mery Daniel, who lost her left leg in the Boston Marathon attacks, and who completed today’s five-miler with a handcycle.
When asked how it feels to be able to take part in races again, Daniel replied, “I have to be active; I can’t just stay in my room and be angry,” and she added, “I have to be out here—I have to stay fit and keep living my life.”