Meet Three-time Survivor and Achilles Athlete, Gail Bruno

Milford resident won’t let her new disabilities define her

Achilles Connecticut athlete Gail Bruno has earned the title “Survivor” – several times over.

As a 20-something, Gail sustained a head-and-neck injury in the workplace. Recovery involved nine months of therapy.

Flash forward to September 11, 2001. Gail had recently arrived to her workplace. The Twin Towers, on the morning that they were devastated by two hijacked airplanes. She survived, but was emotionally traumatized.

Though the Milford resident was athletic growing up (including playing on her high school’s basketball and field hockey teams) she only discovered running later in life. On her 40th birthday, Gail made a wish on her birthday cake that she would one day complete a half marathon. That fall, she ran her first half marathon (Gulf Beach in Milford), followed by the SoNo Half (South Norwalk). Followed by a winter of training outside in snow, ice, freezing rain and whatever else could be dished up in the northeast climate.

On April 1, 2017, Gail says, “My dream finally came true, when I completed the Savin Rock full Marathon, just shy of my 42nd birthday, with my husband, sister and children present!”

But then, just two weeks after the race, while out on a training run, Gail was struck by an SUV.

Recovery and Achilles

Gail sustained multiple, severe injuries from the accident: a traumatic brain injury (TBI), sprained limbs, a shattered wrist, neck-and back- injuries, severe bruising, and chipped knee and leg bones.

For six months, she was unable to walk. She eventually graduated to walking with a cane. In spring of 2018, she progressed to running. One positive outcome from her situation, though, was an introduction to the Connecticut Chapter of Achilles International, which strives to enable people with all types of disabilities and medical conditions to participate in mainstream run/walk events.

“My therapist suggested that I look into Achilles,” she says. “My goal was to get active again, and I had seen Achilles athletes and guides at the New York City Marathon. I’m excited that they can support me in my goals!”

Hope and Possibility

Since that introduction, Gail has finished the Milford Hospital Live Well 5k with her running partner. Her summer race agenda includes the Achilles Hope and Possibility® four-miler in New York City, and Achilles Connecticut Hope & Possibility® Presented by Cigna in Bloomfield, CT. All on top of ongoing therapy and, with her husband, John, raising two young children and running a Milford music shop (Rt. 1 Guitars).

When asked why she’s running Hope & Possibility, Gail responds, “I don’t want my new disabilities to define me. I was a marathoner, and I can be one again.”

Achilles Connecticut Hope & Possibility® Presented by Cigna will take place in Bloomfield, Connecticut on Sunday July 22nd. Courses include a 5k run or walk, a 10k and the kids’ fun runs. Register here.