Team Reeve: With A Little Help From Our Friends

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 22, 2015 # Team Reeve

Every athlete needs two things when preparing for a marathon: one, a strict training schedule to be mentally and physically prepared for the race, and two, the right equipment in order to train. For many individuals who live with a spinal cord injury, finding the proper equipment to train and race can be difficult. However, Challenged Athletes Foundation and Achilles International are two organizations that can help fill that need. Achilles provides athletes with disabilities community support, training, and helps them participate in mainstream marathons while Challenge Athletes Foundation provides equipment support and grants for individuals with physical challenges for a variety of recreational and competitive athletic opportunities.

These two organizations have been involved with the Reeve Foundation, helping Team Reeve members succeed as they race in marathons across the country.

“Achilles provided my first loaner bike along with getting me a spot in the New York City Marathon back in 2010,” said Team Reeve veteran John Benedetto. He was injured after a wave slammed him down into the ocean floor, causing him to fracture his C6 vertebrae. “They [Achilles] have dozens of bikes so you have the chance to find what bike fits best with you depending on your injury. I then learned about the Challenged Athletes Foundation during physical therapy at Kessler Rehabilitation Center in West Orange, NJ. I filled out an application, and I was able to receive a grant for $2,000 to put towards owning a new handcycle.”

Since then, John has completed four marathons including the Philadelphia Marathon in 2013 when the New York City Marathon was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, raising a total of $53,568 dollars for Team Reeve. “Achilles and Challenged Athletes have helped me become a more competitive athlete, and Team Reeve has created a pretty awesome network to reach out to others living with SCI and their families. I got the chance to educate and inspire others who didn’t know about what we did, or were apprehensive [to racing].”

One of Team Reeve’s newest handcyclists has also taken advantage of Achilles and Challenged Athletes’ services. Dennis McGorty became paralyzed in 2013 in a cycling accident in his neighborhood. He was a track star while in high school and began competing in triathlons while in college. After college, he joined a cycling group called Mapso that trained for triathlons. Once his teammates heard that McGorty was hurt, they held fundraisers for him and another rider who was also living with a spinal cord injury. Their mission was to bring awareness to their local area, and keep Dennis involved within their close knit group community. Soon he found that he could still be a cyclist by using a handcycle, and decided to race in the New York City Marathon.

“Our friend John Bye approached Challenged Athletes, and got in touch with Doug Goldson, the regional representative. We were able to get a grant for a new handcycle, that Challenged Athletes actually expedited to me so I could have it for a separate race I participated in this past August.” McGorty said. “After hearing that we received the grant, Anita [my wife] and I contacted the Reeve Foundation to see if there was any chance that a spot was left for New York City. Luckily, there was a spot, and I have been training since. It has been a challenge balancing family, work, and finding time to train, but my family has been very supportive.”

This is his first marathon since he sustained his injury, and he is excited to be participating due to the collaboration of all of our organizations.

“It’s great to be an athlete and feel a sense of normalcy again. New York City is a big stage, but a great milestone and opportunity to bring awareness for the Reeve Foundation and The Big Idea.”

Learn more about Challenged Athletes Foundation and Achilles International .

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.