“Dirty Work” by MuckFest MS Philadelphia’s Shaylea McCray
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Neale Donald Walsch
If someone had told me that at the age of 24 I would be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or that together with family and friends and the unwavering perseverance of my mother we would raise over $11,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, I would have laughed in their face. Impossible.
Crazily enough, these things actually did happen.
Following my diagnosis in January of 2013, there was a brief period in which I felt very depressed, very angry – at what I cannot say, but I was bitter. I did not want my mom to tell anyone, I did not want to tell anyone. I was cranky.
My mother has never been one to sit on the sidelines for anything in her life – a quality I have come to fiercely admire in my adulthood and am still trying to emulate. About a month after my parents and I had visited my neurologist, my mother called me after work one day. I was sitting in my car after finishing with my last patient, and she was babbling on and on about some run through the mud and how we could raise money and get t-shirts made – pretty much just shouting from the rooftops to the entire world, “Shay has MS! And this is what we’re doing about it!”
I screamed at her, told her absolutely not, to keep quiet about it and leave it alone.
One month later, we had created our team “Shay’s Philly Hipsters”. Two months later, we had almost 20 team members, and almost six months later, we had collectively raised over $11,000 for the National MS Society through MuckFest® MS.
The power of connection. Literally. The power of an organized event, people dedicated to the cause and raising awareness. It never ceases to amaze me.
I stood at the start line the day of the run, surrounded by my team and hundreds of people all there for the same reason. In the morning sun, the announcer was talking to us about multiple sclerosis – his powerful, positive words reminding us why we were all about to get muddy. I had tears in my eyes as they sprayed us with water and the start horn blew. It was truly an incredible and overwhelming feeling.
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. And just like that, things were looking up. I stopped ignoring what was happening to my body. I stopped being so passive while my body was actively attacking itself every minute. I read books, researched articles, read about food and how it affects symptoms, invested time in the National MS Society, and found ways to volunteer. It allowed my mother to be positive about a very negative thing happening to her child, and allowed my friends to understand what I was going through and gave them a way to help and contribute when they weren’t sure what to say or do.
This disease breeds loneliness. I realized after participating in MuckFest MS that I don’t have to let it. 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?
The support I needed was there all along, in the form of my friends and loved ones and in the form of the National MS Society and my local chapter, all silently working for the cause, to give support, and to find a cure. It is events like MuckFest MS where we come together and celebrate. Where we shout from the rooftops and let the entire world know that we are fighting to end MS, together.
Read more about Shaylea’s journey here.