Volunteer of the Month

Achilles has some of the most amazing volunteers, many of whom have been with us for years! We want to recognize them here every month. To nominate someone, please email Fiona.  

This month, we highlight volunteer Valerie Kenney!

How and when did you first hear about Achilles?
A few years back, while training for a different sport, my husband Mike and I were running on the reservoir daily, and would see Ben Simmons who was training for the NYC Marathon. We were amazed and inspired. After looking him up online we learned what Achilles International was.

When did you first become a volunteer?
After running a few marathons and an Achilles Hope & Possibility® race we really wanted to be a part of Achilles. We emailed Kat and volunteered for the first time in December of 2014 at the Achilles Reindeer run. Mike and I ran with Alec Black. It was a very heartwarming morning. We came back the following weekend and met Athlete John Pierre. We have been running with Achilles as much as possible ever since. 

What has that experience been like for you?
The experience started out being about wanting to volunteer and helping others. But it became so much more. Right away some incredible friendships formed with the athletes and other guides -- friendships that will be life long and extend way beyond workouts in the park. Achilles has become a family. More than guiding or volunteering it is about spending time with close friends. 

Describe one or two special memories of being an Achilles volunteer/guide.
This is a hard one and difficult to narrow down as there have been so many. Which ones to choose? There was the surprise birthday party some of the athletes and guides threw for me in September. Getting to know and become friends with Eleanor Chapman and her father Steve on our Thursday night runs. All of the races with John Pierre, and especially winning the Team Challenge and spending a weekend at Disney World with him and the Freedom Team this past January. Or maybe when Asim Baig ran an ultra-marathon with us on one week’s notice? I could go on and on. Sorry, too hard to narrow down.

Is there anything you would like to bring to the public's attention about being a guide for Achilles?
It looks like a lot of fun, but it is more fun than it looks! Plus you will make some wonderful friends. 

Mention a little about your own background:
I was born and raised in Staten Island and currently live in West New York, N.J. I work for a Private Equity Fund in midtown. Special interests and hobbies? Anything outdoors like running, hiking, snowshoeing, etc. I love to travel and if not traveling I like to explore anywhere within an hour or so drive, most recently the Sussex County NJ and the Warwick NY areas. Recently Mike and I got into brewing beer. Whatever seems new and interesting.

Read more about our volunteer program.