Muckin’ for Michael’s Mom (M4MM), Part 1

May 15, 2015 1 By muckfestms

We’re excited to start a two-part series on Muckin’ for Michael’s Mom (M4MM), a MuckFest® MS team participating in Denver, New Jersey, St. Louis, and Houston. You might remember Michael Pierce from a 2014 blog post as the first time mucker who shared that “Amazing things happen when you just ask.” Michael has taken that motto to heart, and less than a year later, his team is approaching nearly 200 people in Denver alone, where they hope to raise $30,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. First, we’ll hear from Michael.

Michael from MuckFest MS Denver

Michael Pierce, Team Captain of MuckFest MS Denver’s Muckin’ for Michael’s Mom (M4MM)

How did you get involved with MuckFest MS?

I was just starting to try and get in shape (something I’m still struggling with), and I set a goal to participate in an “official” 5K, ideally some sort of “fun” run. One day, I stumbled on a MuckFest MS ad on Facebook, and it looked like a blast! On the personal side, this was also a perfect fit because my mom has MS, which made this a great combination of fun while doing something for a cause that is important to me.

Why is fundraising for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society important to you?

For me, it started as a meaningful way to honor my Mom, Dee. She is a feisty and independent woman, born and raised in Jersey City. She is a first generation college graduate, putting herself through night school by working days as a waitress. Having never ventured beyond “the city,” she took her new degree to teach at a US Army Base in Germany. Today, she fearlessly fights MS. My mom taught me the value of thinking and acting independently throughout my life. Watching her journey with MS has been difficult because it is slowly taking both of those away from her.

As I’ve gotten more involved with the National MS Society, however, I realize that my mom is actually one of the lucky ones and has a mild form of MS that didn’t manifest until later in life. Through my involvement in MuckFest MS, I’ve become aware of other people with more aggressive forms of the disease or that are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s and live with this disease in the prime of their lives. The more I learn about this disease, the more I am determined to put an end to it.

Tell us about your team in Denver and its tremendous growth, both in number of people and in funds raised.

Our team has gone through a crazy explosion this year, beyond anything that I ever imagined. Last year, I was blown away by 38 friends joining me in the mud and raising $7,100, which was enough to put us in the top 10 for the Denver event. I was thrilled, especially since it was our first year. I tend to be a competitive guy, though, and when I sat down to think about goals for our second year, I decided that I wanted to see if we could be #1 in both categories. That meant getting to 100 people and raising more than $20,000. Gulp. That was a huge jump! Before I could talk myself out of it, I wrote it down. And I did some quick math. If each person on the team last year would find just 3 friends to join the team, that would get us past 100 people. And if each person raised just $300, we’d blow right past that $30,000! Maybe this was doable…

 MuckFest MS Team

With 1 week (at the time of writing) to go until MuckFest MS, we have 197 people and have raised over $31,000. I am just stunned. People have asked for my secret and I really struggle to give an answer, because I can’t put my finger on one specific thing. The common theme, though, has been reaching out to, and surrounding myself with, good people. From incredibly successful Bike MS team captains (Chris Lennert & Jennifer Sales) that have graciously given their time and given me coaching along the way, to a group of close friends that embraced our goals and have driven this team forward, and the incredible people in our local chapter (Chelsea Hixson, Aaron Green, Kristin Gibbs, Raymond Saperstein, Carrie Nolan and many others), who have full time jobs but always seem to find a way to lend a hand when I need help…it seems that I am humbled on a daily basis at everyone’s willingness to meaningfully support our team.

Building on your momentum in Denver, you decided to start teams across the country. Tell us more about that.

This really happened by chance. A very good friend of mine, Michael Heintz, lives in Houston and I have supported him in Bike MS for years. When this year’s list of MuckFest MS cities came out and I saw that Houston had been added, I immediately reached out to Michael. I shared with him how much fun our team had last year and asked if he’d be interested in starting a team in Houston, using our team name. He didn’t even blink and said yes right away. Michael turned right around and asked his good friend, Joe Witkiewicz, to start a team in St. Louis. That inspired me to ask another friend of mine in New Jersey, Dan Sequeira, to start a team out there. As I learned last year, amazing things happen if you just ask. Of course, what I haven’t told them yet is that I’m going to ask them to be as big as the Denver team next year! 🙂

What is a Duck Attack?

The basic gist of one of our most unique fundraising tactics was getting people to “sponsor” a rubber duck for our “target,” and then we would surprise the target with a ton of ducks on their desk, along with a large donation to that person’s personal fundraising account. The first attack was done by passing a folder around the office (much like you do a birthday card where you try to keep it a secret from the person), and we raised about $400. The objectives were to get people talking about the event, capture some pocket change for a donation, and prompt some people to get their own fundraising started.

 Duck Attack, MuckFest MS

Ramón (who you’ll hear from in the next post) took the second Duck Attack even further, with a goal of hitting $1,000, which he exceeded. He took it to a whole new level by incorporating a kiddie pool and floating ducks in the water. Here’s the crazy, creative teaser video that Ramón sent out in advance of his first email, to get people interested.

 Duck Attack 2, MuckFest MS

Check back on Monday to hear from Michael’s teammates from across the country! Good luck tomorrow in Denver!