St. Matthew’s students go the distance

 group smiles after competition 

Year-long Achilles Virtual Marathon provides opportunities to get fit and achieve

Southern Westchester BOCES students at St. Matthew’s School in White Plains enthusiastically crossed the finish line of a school year-long journey of physical fitness and personal achievement. 

 boy crosses finish line More than a dozen participants in the Achilles Virtual Marathon, a nationwide program of Achilles International, logged their steps, strides and minutes since September. Each day, students in Center for Special Services Teachers Denise Hurvitz and Maggie Donaghy’s classes would color in circles to record every fifth of a mile they logged.

By the time late April rolled around, the students had logged anywhere from one to two marathons in distance and more. 

“This is such a tremendous feeling of accomplishment for them,” said Ms. Hurvitz, who has been involved in Achilles Virtual Marathon at SWBOCES programs for 15 years. “Their families can’t believe it when I tell them.”

Physical Education Teacher Sarah Thornquest brings four classes a week to New York Sports Club in White Plains. There they are greeted by name by staff and use cardio machines or an open gym to take part in fitness activities. Their time on the treadmill and other machines counts toward their virtual marathon distance.

 girl stands by teacher Like any marathon, though, they had to cross the finish line, which they did in the auditorium at St. Matthew’s, taking their final steps and breaking the ceremonial ribbon while cameras flashed to capture the moment.  

Each student wore an Achilles T-shirt and received a certificate of achievement. The classes celebrated their accomplishments with ice cream cake and other treats.

“We are grateful to Achilles Kids as we are to New York Sports Club for providing opportunities for our students to participate in physical fitness activities that support their education and development,” Principal Leslie Handler said. “The chance to go out into the community and participate in these activities not only helps them stay healthy but also boosts their personal sense of accomplishment and success.”