We’re excited to kick off our 2015 participant interviews with Philadelphia’s Shawn Williams of team Bubby Titches. Shawn’s passion for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and MuckFest® MS is contagious, and we’re excited to chat with him about his team and fundraising for the 2015 event in May.
Why is fundraising for the National MS Society important to you?
My wife, Becky, was diagnosed in 2000. MS has taken so much from her life – physically, mentally, emotionally, you name it. Worst of all is the feeling of hopelessness it leaves you with – the feeling that no matter what you do, things are only going to get worse. But through all the “muck” of MS, the National MS Society has always been there to help us – since the day Becky was diagnosed (her first pamphlet about MS was from the National MS Society) we’ve gotten support and encouragement from them. They were the first people that provided us with information about the disease, and they’ve been with us every step of the way.
They have been our counselors, our aide coordinators, our research advocates, and our friends. During the Day of Service two years ago, volunteers from their office came to our house to help with painting and some odd jobs that we were having trouble getting done.
MS makes you feel like you can’t count on anything – your legs betray you, your memory fails you, your hands refuse to work properly. But the National MS Society has remained steadfast in their support of us and of all the people afflicted with this terrible disease.
How do you raise awareness for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society?
When my friends and I started talking about our MuckFest MS team for 2015, I began kicking around the idea of doing something to promote us and MuckFest MS. I wanted to do something that would be as popular and fun as the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, but something that wasn’t quite so… clean. How about filling that bucket with a bunch of muck – and doing it out in the snow? THAT’s the kind of challenge Muckers would partake in! So, on a cold February morning, I kicked off my shoes, thawed out some mud (it took some work to get that muck de-iced!), and got my teammate Trevor to film the whole thing. And I threw the #GoMuckYourself slogan in there hoping it would catch on as a fun tagline.
The video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dINP117VDw0
Apart from dumping mud on my head, I’m an officer at our local VFW. I work hard to make the National MS Society one of our primary beneficiaries for donations, and the entire membership of our Post is proud of the support we give our local chapter. In addition to supporting me on MuckFest MS, our Post sponsors the local Walk MS at the Clipper Stadium in Lancaster, PA. Continue reading
MuckFest® MS is the fun mud and obstacle 5K for everyone. If you can laugh, you can do it. No special training required. Have a blast on mountains of mud and 18+ outrageous obstacles that will spin, swing, and fling you and your teammates up, down, and sideways. The event is built for laughs, but we’re also on a serious mission: to support people living with multiple sclerosis and to bring us closer to a world free of MS. And you’ll feel great knowing that 100% of your team’s fundraising dollars support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Check out our 2015 series information below, and register today at www.MuckFestMS.com!
Feel free to share this infographic on your own blog or website. When you do, please give credit and link to MuckFestMS.com.
In case you missed it, here is a clip.
After opening a date card that said “Let’s get dirty,” the six contestants donned pristine white wedding dresses and boarded a jet from Wheels Up to Northern California. After a limo ride, contestants were surprised by MuckFest MS emcee Al Emerick with the news that they’d be running a customized MuckFest MS Bachelor mud obstacle course – in their wedding dresses! The winner got a dream date with the Bachelor at the historic Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The five less-fortunate contestants showered off, donned white fluffy robes, and flew directly back to The Bachelor mansion in Southern California.
The mile-long fun run course featured ten obstacles, including Triple Pits, Big Balls, Walk on Water, Spider Web (over and under), Mt. Muck-imanjaro, The Spinner, Swing Set, Skid Mark, and Belly Crawl.
The MuckFest MS team worked closely with the show’s producers to ensure that microphones and cameras could capture the fierce competition and mucky hilarity that ensued. The team also made sure the course was extra mucky for the contestants in their wedding dresses.
The day of the filming, production staff captured the ladies completing the mud obstacle course with bachelor Chris Soules, riding with their cameras between obstacles on gators driven by MuckFest MS production staff. Bachelor Chris was a total gentleman and helped several of the contestants across the muddy finish line.
By showcasing the MuckFest MS mud obstacle course on The Bachelor, we’re proud to raise awareness for the mission of MuckFest MS: to raise funds to support the 2.3 million people living with MS and to bring us closer to a world without MS.
About MuckFest MS
MuckFest MS is the fun mud and obstacle 5K for everyone. No special training required. Runners have a blast on mountains of mud and outrageous obstacles. The event is built for laughs, but it’s also on a serious mission: to support people living with multiple sclerosis and to bring us closer to a world free of MS. Runners sign up at MuckFestMS.com. Benefiting the National MS Society, www.nationalMSsociety.org.
On Facebook and Twitter, we asked our muckers, “How do YOU keep the MuckFest MS spirit alive during the winter months?”
Below are some great ideas on ways to stay mucky during the off-season!
“Playing outside with the grandkids. Developing future muckers!” –Daniel M.
“Who says there’s an off season?” –Ryan S.
“Outdoor recess duty in the wintertime! Messier than you might expect!” –Julia F.
“I train at Unleashed in Warwick RI around 3 days per week. They offer exercise classes specifically to prepare for obstacle course racing, as well as general fitness classes that are head to toe workouts. It’s a year round adventure for me.” –Stephanie S.
“Just because it’s cold, [there’s] no reason not to get outside and exercise! It toughens you up. My friends and I often say that after the conditions this past year for MuckFest MS, there’s not much that we won’t run outside in.” –Michael F.
“Wow. Good for you guys! MuckFest MS…I keep the spirit alive by eating mud pie and awaiting the fun of the run!” –Samantha G.
MuckFest MS: What are you most excited for at your first MuckFest MS event?
Michael: I just want to know if I can make it through all of the obstacles! I’ve never done an event like this, and I’m excited to see if it lives up to all of the fun I see people having in the pictures. I’m also really excited to see just how many people attend this event.
Who is your inspiration for participating in MuckFest MS?
Michael: My Mom is my inspiration. She was diagnosed with late-onset MS a few years ago, and this event perfectly brings together my love of running and desire to do something to honor her. Since I was little, she has always taught me the power of independent thought and action. She put herself through college by working days and going to class at night, and she was the first in her family to get a college degree. From there, she went off to Germany to teach. All of this happened at a time when it was very unusual for women to do these types of things. It’s made her struggle with MS that much harder to witness, because of the impact it has had on her independence, in thought and in action.
What is your number one fundraising tip?
Michael: The one thing I have learned leading up to this event is the power of connection – amazing things happen when you just ask. No matter how long ago or how recently I’d spoken to someone or how deep or new the friendship might be, so many people responded to my requests for support – I was astounded. I set what I thought were lofty goals – a team of 10 people raising $2,000 – and was blown away by a team of 38 people raising over $7,100.
MuckFest MS: What was the most memorable moment at your first MuckFest MS event?
Michael: It actually happened the night before the event, while many of the team members gathered to “carb load” (really just an excuse to eat pasta and drink great wine). Two of our team members couldn’t attend the dinner, but I received a text that simply said, “We are ready,” with a picture of the shirts they made for MuckFest MS. They had spontaneously decided to write “Muckin’ for Mike’s Mom” on their shirts – and the entire team embraced it. I was quietly participating in this event to honor my Mom as my own personal thing. To have the entire team embrace her in such a public way completely blew me away. The best part was my Mom was able to attend the event and got to personally see that we were all running for her.
MuckFest MS: What was your favorite obstacle?
Michael: That’s a tough one, because they were all fun in their own way. I’ll have to say the Swing Set, because it was so much fun to launch yourself off of it and into the water – it was like being a kid again. Also, after a long uphill portion of the course, the Swing Set was the beginning of going downhill to the finish line.
MuckFest MS: If you could give one piece of advice to a first-time mucker, what would it be?
Michael: Kneepads. Or long pants. My knees took a beating. Really, what I would tell them is that it’s an incredible amount of fun. You think it’s going to be fun, and all of the pictures look like a blast, but you really won’t understand how much fun it really is until you get out there with a bunch of your friends. Can’t wait for next year!
MuckFest MS: What are you most excited for at your first MuckFest® MS event?
MuckFest MS: What is your number one fundraising tip?
Mindy: Don’t be afraid to ask!
MuckFest MS: If you could share one message with all muckers, what would it be?
Mindy: Have Fun. Laugh. Fall in the mud with a friend!
MuckFest MS: Who is your inspiration for participating in MuckFest MS?
Mindy: I was just diagnosed earlier this year. I am inspired to show my three children that nothing is going to change their mom.
Mindy would like to give a special thanks to her husband, Darren Davis, who has been incredibly supportive and committed to fundraising. She’d also like to thank her children, Tonya, Darriana, and DJ, for spreading the MuckFest MS excitement and for their help with team building and fundraising. As they like to say, “Woo hoo, another donation for the MuckFest MS team!”
We’re super excited to chat with Ross Girard, team captain of LA’s team Men at Twerk, and one of his teammates, Scott Backman.
First off, meet Ross Girard.
MuckFest MS: What made you first decide to do MuckFest® MS?
Ross: I was hanging out with a few members of my kickball team. We play in a gay league, and our team is also named Men at Twerk. We were talking about how we’ve always wanted to do a mud and obstacle run – an athletic challenge that is fun and a bit out of the ordinary. I got an email from the National MS Society about MuckFest MS, and the rest is history. Seriously, it’s such a fun way to raise money to support the fight against MS, which is a cause that I’m very passionate about. I’m lucky to have a great group of friends who quickly came on board to support the cause and take part in the event. Also, a shout out to our female teammates! We’re not all men on team Men at Twerk – we’ve got some ladies too!
MuckFest MS: Why is supporting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society important to you?
Ross: A close family member of mine has been living with MS for much of her adult life, and I’ve seen firsthand how unpredictable and scary this disease can be. The work that the National MS Society is doing both for research and in helping people living with MS is really fantastic, and I want to do whatever I can to help support the organization and their efforts.
MuckFest MS: What are you most excited for at MuckFest MS Los Angeles?
Ross: I’m excited to get muddy, of course! I love a good challenge, and I’m really looking forward to pushing myself and my teammates to get through the mud and obstacle course. Most of all, I’m excited for the experience we’ll have together and for being able to spread awareness about MS. Continue reading
MuckFest MS: Why did you initially decide to register for MuckFest MS?
Laurieann: My initial reason for registering for MuckFest MS? Because I CAN. This phrase is one I use daily in my life. I have relapsing-remitting MS and was diagnosed in 2009. Learning to cope with the symptoms and diagnosis was tough. I struggle with pain, numbness, weakness, fatigue, loss of vision, dizziness, and cognitive issues.
MuckFest MS: Why do you support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society?
Laurieann: The National MS Society was and is a HUGE support to me. I have received physical and occupational therapy through their programs as well as cognition therapy. I have attended helpful seminars, received needed publications, coaching and overall support. The National MS Society is there when I need them. Knowledge truly is power, and you just can’t put a price on the information and support they provide, not to mention treatments as a result of dedicated research!
MuckFest MS: What is your number one fundraising tip?
Laurieann: I reached out to close friends and family. Another huge supporter of team Monster Smash is my husband. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and knows no stranger, and he has done more than half the fundraising. He works with a lot of small family businesses and also utilizes relationships from other points in his career.
MuckFest MS: If you could send one message to all MuckFest MS participants, what would it be?
Laurieann: I am truly living optimally with MS and am always willing to test my limits. Why not have fun with it and raise money and awareness for the cause? Especially since I CAN. Team Monster Smash thanks you for being an inspiration and helping us to smash out this MonSter as we run, swing, climb, crawl, fall, roll, and MUCK in the mud together. If you don’t have a team for MuckFest MS Los Angeles, please join us on Monster Smash!! :)
I look forward to the event itself and taking on one unfamiliar obstacle at a time, just like I do in my daily life, one step at a time.
MuckFest MS: What’s the story behind your team name?
MuckFest MS: What initially made you decide to register for MuckFest MS?
David: I participated in a mud event last year with my childhood best friends. I loved it. I was looking to do another type of race and saw an ad for MuckFest MS LA, and I was in!
MuckFest MS: Who is your inspiration for participating in MuckFest MS?
David: My wife Jodi. She is the strongest, most positive person I have ever met. I have sat in awe of her many, many times. For 10 years, I have been watching my wife suffer and struggle with this disease. I’ve been sitting on the sideline whining about her plight and shaking my fists at the heavens, and I got sick of it – I decided I would finally do something about it. This MuckFest MS run and fundraiser is my first step.
MuckFest MS: You are a fundraising rock star. What is your number one fundraising tip?
David: I decided to not be afraid to ask anyone. I didn’t just ask, “Hey, wanna donate to a cool cause?” I used my personal story to ask for help. I also remind people and tell my friends who are fundraising to remind people of the personal nature of their donation request. Sadly, most people have someone in their life who suffers from MS, so I found they either used my wife or someone else they knew as inspiration for their donation.
Also, this was a posting I put on my Facebook as an example:
“I realize how powerful the ice bucket challenge has been to raise money for ALS. These days there are many such causes with each of us giving where we can. My case is close to home. I am in the middle of my own fundraising efforts to help my wife. My wife Jodi has suffered for over 10 years from Multiple Sclerosis. I have sat back for years watching and complaining but doing nothing. Not anymore! I am entered in the 2014 MuckFest MS. Please help me raise money to find a cure. If you can, please donate today.”
I then added my link to donate and have been shocked by the response!
MuckFest MS: As a team captain, how do you motivate your team to fundraise?
David: Similar to the above, I told them to ask, ask, ask. Anyone. Anywhere. Worst thing they say is no, and then you move on. I’m also hoping to do a lemonade stand with a few of the participants’ kids to get them involved as well.
MuckFest MS: What are you most excited for in your first MuckFest MS event?
David: Simple. Laughter, giggles, and lots of mud!!!! My niece is flying out from Boston to join me in the race, and I can’t wait for her to play as well.