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For over 30 years, Dick Traum has worked to help people with disabilities compete as athletes in road races and other sporting events. In 1983 he founded Achilles International, an organization whose mission is to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream running events in order to promote personal achievement.
Traum lost his right leg above the knee as the result of a car accident when he was 24. An accomplished college wrestler, he was determined to remain physically active. Traum completed the first five-borough New York City Marathon in 1976 in 7:24, becoming the first known amputee athlete to run a marathon.
Traum completed 11 marathons using a prosthesis; he’s since had his left knee replaced and has completed an additional 25 marathons using a handcycle. Now 75, he continues to coach and advocate for athletes with disabilities. In 2003 Achilles International founded the Achilles Hope & Possibility, an annual road race for able-bodied runners and athletes with a variety of disabilities, held in multiple cities nationwide.
“When an able-bodied runner gets passed by someone who is blind or on one leg,” he says, “it changes their perception of what the disabled can do.”