Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Richard Traum NOVEMBER 18, 1940 – JANUARY 23, 2024 -

Dick Traum died yesterday. He was the founder of Achilles International. Achilles is an organization that kind of has two functions. Their primary function is to help people with disabilities train for and compete in athletic events against people who are not disabled. There are other function is to give people with different types of disabilities a chance to hang out together. {i might be making all this up, I'm not looking at the Achilles website to see what their goals are. This is what I think their goals are / should be and I did read the last two books that Dick wrote}. If you're looking for the official obituary for Dick Traum you can find it here.

I want to use this opportunity to talk about how of Dick Traum helped me get better. It wasn't just the stuff he did by creating Achilles. The model of bringing together athletes and people who want to help athletes really clicked for me. Now I'm out there recruiting guides. I tell people from my "other" Running Clubthat if they enjoyed cheering or helping organizing races they would really enjoy guiding a disabled athlete in a training run or a race. If you feel good about being one of 50 people thousand people run a race Imagine how good you'd feel if you are the one person who makes it so that one other person can run that race. Also, the friendships I've made here oh without a doubt greater than any I've made anywhere else.

Above is a photograph of Dick Traum in his three-wheeled handcycle.
It is opposed to picture taken in front of the reservoir in Central Park
But I'm done talking about running. I want to tell the different kind of story about Dick Traum and how just knowing him made me better. Back in 2017 Dick Traum was still the President of Achilles International. Dick Traum well suddenly on different sides of a political fence. A really big fence. And everyone I knew was on my side. It affected the management and leadership of Achilles International. It was ugly and I don't have to talk about it here now.But I really wanted to let Dick know what I thought of what he did. He often came to the Saturday morning workouts in Central Park I would see him there and I had a whole speech prepared in my head.

I didn't have an opportunity 

But I did go up to Boston to cheer for everyone at mile 18 in the 2018 marathon. That year the weather was epically terrible. It's basically a point to point race and it was a headwind blowing sleet and rain into the faces of the racers. Hours into the race Dick Traum rolled by in his racing wheelchair. It was low to the ground and he was being splashed with ice water as the runners passed  him. I cheered for him like I said for everyone else and I don't think he heard me.

Photo above is a picture of people cheering
in the rain for people who are hand Cycling in the rain

A few weeks later on a beautiful Saturday morning I was at the Achilles workout in Central Park. Dick Traum was there doing his workout and there was a moment where it looked like I can walk over and tell him what I thought of his politics.But instead my mouth started doing things that my ears and brain weren't ready for. I was going to walk over and tell him what an asshole I thought he was, but instead...

me: I was cheering a few weeks ago at mile 18 at the Boston Marathon and I saw you go by and I think you're the most badass guy I ever met.

dt: Why would you say that?

me: Because you was soaked through to your underwear with ice water and people were running by and splashing you. If you would have stopped there or not even have started. You look like you were pushing through hypothermia.

dt: Well, once you soak through your underwear what's the point in stopping.

me: yeah, that's what badass mother fuckers say. It's a pleasure to know you, sir.

I shook his hand, again and walked away feeling really good about what my ears heard my mouth say.

I know it wasn't your job, but Dick Traum, you have inspired me to be a badass motherfucker.

Rest in Power 

Editing to add this: it's been suggested to me that I reach beyond politics and talk to some of the people I happen to be related to. I would if they had any redeeming qualities. 

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Michael.
    Dick Traum was a very kind person. Usually there was an old, old silly joke ready, along with his smiling welcoming face.


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