“NEVER GIVE UP”
It was 7:00 am on a Saturday and I stood looking at myself in the mirror. I was completely clad in orange, right down to my uncomfortably tight orange and black workout leggings. I glanced nervously out the window at the rain then looked at the temperature on my phone: 43 degrees. I thought, what on earth have I gotten myself into? It was Saturday, April 26th, 2014, and I was preparing for my first ever MuckFest MS. As someone who is over 200 pounds and has never been athletic, I was downright terrified. This was completely out of my comfort zone. I had only recently started to get into a fitness routine and I was unsure of my ability to complete the obstacles. I assumed MuckFest MS was going to be like those races in which people have to climb under barbed wire and scale large walls. My anxiety about the race combined with the terrible weather conditions was enough to make me want to crawl back into bed and not go. However, there was one thing that made me face my anxiety and get out onto the course that day.
And that one thing was my mother.
MuckFest MS is a cause near and dear to my heart because my mother, Patricia, had multiple sclerosis. She was first diagnosed with the disease in 1964 when she was only 15 years old and not much was known about MS. She was young, afraid, and uncertain of her future. Despite all this, she persevered and was able to build a life for herself. She became a teacher, a wife and a mother to two children. The disease, however, did take its toll. By the time I was in middle school my mother was in a wheelchair and I saw her through numerous hospital stays. The final blow was dealt, however, when she was diagnosed with Melanoma and treatment was limited due to her disease. Unfortunately, she passed away in late 2009 after a courageous fight.
My mother was the epitome of strength and courage. She never gave up despite the obstacles life consistently threw at her. More importantly, she taught us to never give up and to keep persevering through life’s greatest obstacles. So, on that April day, I got on the course and completed every one of the obstacles despite the fear I felt while doing some of them. And while I was doing the race, I realized a few things. I realized how much fun this event is and how many laughs you have while doing it. I realized that this event is very doable for people of all shapes, sizes and athletic ability as there is no barbed wire and no monster walls. I realized my own ability to overcome my anxiety and do things outside of my comfort zone. I also realized there are a lot of people who do this run who are currently living with MS. Knowing what MS can do to you physically and mentally, this is an amazing feat, and something that should inspire everyone else. Their efforts have inspired me to continue to do MuckFest MS and to fundraise so that someday we might find a cure and make MS a thing of the past.
This year will be my fifth MuckFest MS, my fourth as a team co-captain. Our team, “Pat’s Muckers,” has grown since that first race, as have our fundraising efforts. Last year our team had over 50 people and we raised $20,000. The people on our team are very different from one another but they have come together for one common goal: to fight MS and to have fun doing it. If you’re considering doing MuckFest MS, I strongly encourage you to sign up. It’s a decision you won’t regret.