On April 16, 2018, I took part in the Boston Marathon, a challenging 26.2 miles between Hopkinton, Massachusetts and Copley Square in Boston. I completed this marathon thanks to the extraordinary organization, the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans. In 2004, Achilles International launched the Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans program. An extension of the Achilles process of physical strengthening, building confidence, and generating a supportive community, the program was adapted to the specific needs of wounded members of the U.S. military. Program participants receive training as well as use of specialized adaptive devices, such as hand-crank wheelchairs. The Freedom Team mission is to empower and motivate our nation’s wounded veterans through physical, mental and emotional rehabilitation, such as completing marathons. On October 28, I will take part in the Marine Corps Marathon, held in Arlington, Virginia. This will mark my eleventh marathon with Achilles, and second time taking on this race. A little bit about myself...
I am a combat-wounded U.S. Army Iraq War veteran. I served with 3-15 Infantry, Fort Stewart, and was deployed to the Middle East for one year. On March 12, 2008, I was diagnosed with an uncommon neurological disorder called transverse myelitis (TM). TM is an inflammation of both sides of one section of the spinal cord. This neurological disorder often damages the insulating material covering nerve cell fibers (myelin)., resulting in paralysis. The annual incidence of transverse myelitis ranges from 1.34 to 4.60 cases per million. Initially, I was paralyzed from the T5 and T6 vertebrae, with a lack of function in the legs and torso (paraplegia). The disorder is so uncommon, the Discovery Channel asked that I appear on an episode of Discovery Health's 'Mystery Diagnosis'. The show now airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and my episode can be retrieved on YouTube using keywords 'Greg Sapp'.
Because of Achilles, I found a new passion that pushed the boundaries of my diagnosis. I have completed ten marathons, two Spartan Races, a Green Beret obstacle course race, the Army Ten-Miler, and more recently, the Bataan Memorial Death March, and the Boston Marathon. In addition to physical therapy I receive at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, I complete endurance events that I thought were otherwise impossible. By pushing my perceived limitations, I am becoming healthier, both mentally and physically. By completing events with other wounded veterans with Achilles, I am overcoming the daily struggles of post-traumatic stress and the neurological conditions of TM. But Achilles can't provide these opportunities alone.
I am requesting your support to join the mission of Achilles to empower wounded service members. I am an adaptive athlete and am not required to do any fundraising for Achilles to participate in marathons. I do this in order to give back to the organization for providing me the opportunity to complete events. Will you support Achilles with a donation so they can continue their mission of empowering wounded service members? Or you can donate an item to be raffled at a future fundraising event. Your support is appreciated.
Check out Achilles' website: https://www.achillesinternational.org/freedom-team/
Thanks for your support!