I do my best to personally keep pace with the milestones of our growing chapters throughout the country and the world. Just recently we expanded to Cuba, and now have an Achilles chapter in Havana. Bienvenidos a Achilles! More about that some time in the future.
Just a few weeks ago, our chapter in Wisconsin celebrated its tenth anniversary. Wow. It seems like yesterday when chapter president, Kim Virden, reached out to Trisha Meili and me to tell us that she wanted to bring Achilles to Madison. A tenth anniversary is a big deal. It’s something that warrants a personal visit vs. just a phone call or note of congratulations. So I decided to travel to Wisconsin to celebrate with Kim and our Madison members.
The best non-stop fare I could find was out of Newark Airport. Traveling to Madison was almost uneventful. Unfortunately, I was deposited at the wrong terminal. That would have put me behind schedule by 30 to 40 minutes had it not been for my apparent disability. It was one of those rare instances when my physical challenge turned out to be an advantage. The folks at Continental could not have been any nicer. They parted the waters and allowed me to pass through security quickly. Surely, I would have missed my flight had they not done so. Two things struck me as being funny. One, they drastically underestimated my strength and endurance. I probably had greater upper body strength than most people in the security queue. Two, a metal plate in my knee almost always results in a personal body search. Admittedly, being just a bit “flippant”, I thought about telling the TSA officer—after he ran the back of his hand along my rump—“I guess this is when I ask you out on a date?” Thankfully I kept my mouth shut—my only goal being to board the airplane vs. causing further delays and perhaps a more invasive search.
My evening in Madison was fortunately less eventful. I had a light dinner and then retired early. That too is funny considering the University of Wisconsin at Madison is ranked among the top ten party schools in the nation. Rodney Dangerfield, I’m not. It was a beautiful day on Sunday and I enjoyed my time with Kim and our wonderful Achilles family. Of course, I had an opportunity to speak and tell the Achilles story, peppered with a few of my favorite jokes. Everyone seemed genuinely interested in what I was saying. I’m never quite sure to whom I’ve told my stories and jokes—especially my colleagues and staff based in Manhattan, who have definitely heard them ad nauseam. My long-time staffers refer to people who have never experienced my routine or shtick as “fresh meat”. Of course, I like to think of them in a much more positive light—as newfound friends.
To Kim Virden and my new friends in Wisconsin, I wish you all heartfelt congratulations. It was wonderful to be with you to celebrate ten years of achievement.