Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. (Definition from https://www.nationalmssociety.org/.)
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis shortly after I turned 21. Compared to many others who are afflicted by this as yet incurable disease, I am pretty dang healthy. I do have my share of problems, but for the most part, my day-to-day life is not affected–certainly not to the degree that it could be. Because I am so fortunate, I feel the need to give back. I have participated in several fundraising MS Walks over the years and for the last three years have participated in MuckFest MS.
MuckFest MS is a 5K mud run with fun obstacles, such as Big Balls, Mt. Muck-imanjaro, and the Slippy Sloppy. The goal is to raise money for the National MS Society, and to have FUN! Sponsors include Abbvie and Traveler Beer Company.
Every year I am blown away by the number of family and friends who are willing to donate money in my name and by those who are willing to sacrifice their time and bodies to participate in the events with me. I do not deserve these people, but I am so very grateful for them. Having them by my side makes the entire experience so much fun!!
Each year, as MuckFest approaches, I get anxious and nervous. I have a desk job and don’t get quite as much (almost none) of the exercise that I should get. So, I’m always worried about whether or not I will be able to complete all of the challenges. The first year, I didn’t even attempt all of them. It was November. It was cold and windy. And, I was shaking like a leaf about halfway through. Sadly, I walked around several of the stations. But, the past two years, I have pushed myself to complete them all, and I HAVE! My husband has helped tremendously on that front. He has done every single obstacle for the last three years, and he has been there to pull me up those slippery hills and has held on to me so I don’t fall off of the rope ladders. He is most definitely my rock.
I am always inspired at these events by the number of turquoise “I Muck With MS” bandannas. So many people wrestle with the unpredictable symptoms of MS, and so many show up to this 5K and don’t let anything hold them back! It is truly AWESOME. It is also amazing to watch complete strangers come together and help one another throughout the race.
I cannot possibly thank the people who put these events together and the volunteers who work them enough. They do an outstanding job! I was fortunate enough to be a volunteer at the Dallas event this year. I must say, that was almost as much fun as mucking! I very much enjoyed seeing another side of the event.
Kim and Kevin:
This was our second time doing the Muck Fest for MS. I did a 5K once in Waco, but this is way different. We have a dear friend who battles MS, so we go to support her. My first year, the event was held in Baytown during the middle of November. It was so cold and windy that I walked around some of the water events, which is why we opted out of going the next year. It was fun, and I was glad I did it, but it was so cold. This year’s event was in Austin, TX and during October, so we decided to go again in hopes that the weather would be better. And, we have friends who live there that were also doing the event, so it made it even more fun to have a group of friends and be able to spend time together. We started out with threats of thunderstorms, but made it through the event with no weather issues. It is an amazing event! There are so many people there. It’s good to see so many come together for a cause. When someone sees you struggling, they help you out or they stop and cheer you on. It’s pretty nice just to sit back and watch everyone and smile. Some of them dressed up in super hero costumes or tutus. A lot of people have shirts made for the occasion. We wear silly socks. The events are muddy and wet and slippery. I busted my behind on one, but luckily the ground was sof,t so no bruises. The events are spaced out enough to catch your breath between them unless you’re running it. I do not run. I move over for the runners to pass me by. I am no runner, and the last thing my group needs is to carry my body through the rest of the event. That’s a nice thing about it. You can go at your own pace and go around events you don’t want to do or feel like you can’t do.
I faced some of my fears. I did the netted rope wall again this year. I always have a fear that I will slip through the openings in the netting, falling onto the other participants underneath, and crushing them all. So far I’m 2-0 👍. The first year, I didn’t do the Stunt Man and jump off from the platform onto the inflatable pillow. I was freezing, and it looked really high up, so I passed on it. This year’s didn’t look as high, so I climbed up there. The first go around I froze and couldn’t get my feet to move, but my second attempt, I went for it! I have a fear of heights as an adult that I didn’t have as a kid, so forcing myself to jump was hard to do! I was proud of myself for facing that fear. I definitely recommend doing an event like this for a cause. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it helps others. I would also recommend a change of clothes, towel, and garbage sack, because you’re going to need all of that when you’re finished. It was a blast, and we are hoping to do it again next year!
I first got involved with the National MS Society via the BP MS 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. First as a volunteer, a few years later as a rider, and finally I applied to a MuckFest MS position with the National MS Society. I started at the society in July 2016 with my first MuckFest MS being in October of that year in Houston.
My younger brother was diagnosed with MS in 2009 when he was 19 years old. Since his diagnosis, I’ve learned of a number of friends who live with MS. And now, of course, since working for the Society, I’ve made so many more connections to people and families who are affected by MS. I am grateful to say that many of these contacts are not just work connections but friends.
The first time I personally partook in the mucky madness was at the Houston event in 2016. I was supposed to do the Austin event earlier this month, too, but got busy running around, and I missed my chance. But there’s always next year! 😊 My favorite part of the day is seeing the very first wave get mucky. The energy level is so high, people are pumped, and the mud looks so fresh and inviting! It’s wonderful to see people new to MuckFest MS watch the first wave and start to realize what they’re getting themselves into. Besides the people-watching there are a lot of other fun perks on event-day: seeing random people helping each other on the course, teams working together to overcome obstacles, individuals donating their mucky shoes, and everyone having a huge smile on their face from all the fun memories they’re creating – all in the name of helping those living with MS.
MuckFest MS is a full-time job and fills my time throughout the year. Preparations for the 2018 series have already begun so there’s not much down time between events. The two weeks post-event are still pretty busy with follow up emails/calls, thank-you notes, and post-event fundraising pushes. After that we jump right back into planning for next year’s events! As for the build crew, they travel across the country to each MuckFest MS city and are usually on the site about two weeks before the event to plan the route, excavate, make dirt piles, and set up the obstacles.
100% of the fundraising dollars go directly to the National MS Society. However, only about 20% of muckers fundraise! The more people we get fundraising, the more impact we will have and the sooner we will be able to live in a world free of MS. The Austin event this year has raised over $66,000 to date. The MuckFest MS series has raised over $28,000,000 since its inception!