Erin D. wanted to “do something positive” with her MS diagnosis. So, even though MuckFest MS was, as she admitted, “a little outside [her] comfort zone,” she signed up and started a team, Erin’s Mudskippers. She and her Mudskippers then proceeded to raise a whole lot of awareness and a muck-ton of donations. In 2015, Erin’s team was the highest fundraising team overall, bringing in over $45,000 with over half of that raised by Erin herself! Her mission is clear: “Fundraising and creating awareness means potentially quicker diagnoses for people with symptoms, more funding for support programs, and more research for treatment and a potential cure.”
On Rebecca K.'s team page, she and her Fighting Shamrocks issued a battle cry: “We say ENOUGH. ENOUGH pain. ENOUGH suffering. ENOUGH loss. We FIGHT. We want ANSWERS. And we want an END TO MS.” For Rebecca, it’s personal, but not just because of her dad, who’s had MS since she was born. Rebecca’s own battle began in 2013 on her daughter’s one-month birthday when she received her diagnosis of MS. Rebecca and her Fighting Shamrocks have learned to transform that anger and frustration into direct and meaningful action through advocacy and fundraising. And fueling that passion is an absolute refusal to let MS win!
Veronique N.’s positivity is infectious, and exhilarating and inspiring. After her boyfriend was given a diagnosis of MS, she did some research, watched an episode of The Bachelor that featured the bachelorettes doing the MuckFest MS course in wedding dresses, and decided that she was going to do it! She and her team raised over $2,000 in their very first MuckFest MS event. She says, “Live the muck life! No matter what obstacles or unexpected twists end up in your path, there are always people and organizations that will open their arms to support you and help you through.” Certainly, Veronique and her team are proof positive of that.
This mud run is fun, but it’s a blast when you do it as part of a team. Over 90% of muckers are on teams, comprised of friends, families, neighbors, and coworkers. Teams don’t just have the most fun, they also make a huge difference when it comes to raising awareness and raising funds to support the vital work of the National MS Society. Read below and see what we’re talking about.
The story of Mike P. and his team, Muckin’ for Michael’s Mom (M4MM), represents what MuckFest MS is all about. Mike did his first MuckFest MS as a “meaningful way to honor my mom,” who has MS, and as a way to get in shape. That first year, Mike completed the course with his 38 teammates. In 2015, Muckin’ for Michael’s Mom (M4MM) returned with an astounding 197 team members, raising a jaw-dropping $39,000. Mike’s secret for team-building success is simple: reach out and surround yourself with good people.
Many corporations, big and small, use MuckFest MS as an incredible team-building experience in more ways than one. When Candy S. started her team, AIS Mind over Mudder, she saw an opportunity to honor her mother, who has MS, and as “a wonderful way to raise awareness for this great cause and have some fun with co-workers!” In 2015, her team grew to 41 members, including not only coworkers, but also family and friends, some of whom had relatives living with MS. Altogether, they raised over $7,000. Her team-building advice is to have fun and let everyone know what you’re doing.
The New England Spahtens (that's Spartans with a Boston accent) is a Boston-based “obstacle course race (OCR) community, focusing on the New England OCR scene.” They even have a manifesto that states clearly what they’re all about, which is providing an opportunity for anyone, regardless of skill or ability, to enjoy being a part of a team and have fun at OCR events around New England. The Spahtens signed up for MuckFest MS in 2013, and have been back every year since, returning in 2015 with a crew of over 40 fun-loving OCR enthusiasts. But they’re not just in it for the fun, they also actively fundraise with many members contributing, making them a big team with big hearts, or hahts.
People living with MS face obstacles every day, made all the more difficult because of the unpredictability of the disease. In addition, common feelings among people with a recent diagnosis are loneliness, fear and isolation. This is why the National MS Society’s work and the MuckFest MS events are so important for people looking for and needing support, reassurance and acceptance. We are honored and inspired by the runners who “Muck It with MS,” those runners who overcome the obstacles on the course to demonstrate what we all can accomplish when we work together toward a common goal.
At 24 years of age, Shaylea M. was shocked by two things. The first was her diagnosis of MS. The second was that less than a year after a diagnosis, she and her friends and family were getting mucky and having a blast at MuckFest MS. Between these two events, Shaylea hit a rough patch. She said, “I felt very depressed, very angry… I did not want my mom to tell anyone, I did not want to tell anyone.” But her mom, not one to sit on the sidelines, convinced her that she should do something, with friends and family by her side, and that something was MuckFest MS. “Stumbling across MuckFest MS changed me completely, the whole process of putting together a team, asking for donations, being honest and open with everyone about my diagnosis, and sharing my story with other people living with MS… I am not (and was never) alone after my diagnosis. I asked for help, and my family and friends stepped right up and also, who doesn’t love a good mud obstacle run?”
In the year after her diagnosis, Heather felt sick and “down in the dumps.” The following year, still not feeling great, she thought she’d try MuckFest MS. An admitted mud-thusiast who loves off-roading, Heather did not need convincing about the mud, but she did not anticipate what would happen next. "I told my family that I wanted to do MuckFest MS, and they said they wanted to join me. I figured it was going to be me, my husband, my daughter, and my son. I was doing this for obvious reasons: to feel like I could do it and to overcome the things this disease has thrown at me. Then, my sister signed up, along with her oldest child, then a classmate of ours and his wife, some firefighters (my husband’s been in the fire department for 18 years) along with their spouses, a classmate of my daughter’s from beauty school, and my brother-in-law and his wife. What I thought was going to be a small group grew to more than I could possibly imagine.”
Like many, the diagnosis of MS took Mike F. completely by surprise. His doctor thought it was a pinched nerve. After hearing the news, Mike felt weighed down by a nonstop barrage of unanswered questions: “What was MS? How did I get it? Will it go away? Can I live with it? Can I deal with it? Were the days of being an athlete over?” Mike turned to the National MS Society for answers and support and found ways to deal with the disease. But he still looked for a way to “express himself as someone with MS.” He signed up for MuckFest MS and “jumped in with both feet,” building his team Filth & Furey. For Mike it was a powerful outlet: “Fundraising and reaching out to my family, friends and the community for support has given me a voice and a reason to confront MS head on. It has given me the ability to identify with my disease and break through the mental barriers I allowed MS to build.” He also broke through some other barriers, most notably in fundraising with Team Filth & Furey “raising more than $28,000 and having a blast!”
I MUCK IT WITH MS is a special National MS Society program that celebrates participants who are also living with multiple sclerosis. MuckFest MS participants with MS can wear the teal I MUCK IT WITH MS bandanas on the event. The bandanas will be given to participants who selected "I have MS" in response to the registration question, "What is your connection to MS?"