BOSTON(CBS) – The Achilles Team Freedom, a group of wounded veterans and Boston Marathon bombing survivors who race using handcycles are unhappy with race organizers.
The team made up of wounded veterans and Marathon bombing survivors said the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.), has made progress, but has not always welcomed them with open arms.
“The B.A.A., let’s say, is behind the other marathons we participate in,” says Marc Fucarile, who lost a leg when the second bomb exploded at the Marathon finish line.
One of the first things he remembers afterwards is veterans with similar wounds visiting him.
“They came up to our hospitals, talking to our families, answering questions, and that’s where the connection came,” said Fucarile.
But Fucarile and some teammates say the B.A.A. hasn’t accommodated their needs as well as other marathons have, or opened up enough slots for these racers to participate.
“It’s kind of odd, especially where it’s Boston on Patriots’ Day these guys are patriots who fought for our country,” he said.
“These guys are patriots who fought for our country.”
The team, and Fucarile, say they’ve had plenty of talks with the B.A.A. about their issues, and this year for the first time, race organizers are helping the team overcome some logistical hurdles. But it’s been a slow process.
“It feels like we had to beg to get there, and it’s a shame. I mean they should be honored to have these guys there,” said Fucarile.
Lately there’s been additional pressure on the B.A.A.
Marathon bombing survivor Patrick Downes wrote a critical op-ed piece, a Boston Globe columnist echoed those complaints, and State Rep. Dan Cullinane sent a letter to the B.A.A. signed by 71 representatives, calling on the organization to more fully embrace the handcyclists.
The B.A.A. declined to talk on camera, but in a statement they said they are committed to the handcycle division.
“We look forward to continued conversations to ensure their continued participation in the Boston Marathon each Patriots’ Day,” the organization said.
There are 30 slots for this year’s handcycle athletes, the largest number ever. Last year, there were 28 slots.