A Post-MuckFest 2019 Recap from Cheri Devlin
Our MuckFest runs are complete for the year, and we are looking back on all the fun that 2019 brought to Muckers all over the country. One such person is Cheri Devlin. But she is no ordinary Mucker!
Over the course of 2019, we talked again and again with Cheri, who ran in EVERY (yes, that’s right – every single one!) MuckFest in 2019! When we first met Cheri, it seemed like a crazy goal…but now she completed it with aplomb!
Cheri ran in honor of her father, Mike, who passed away from progressive multiple sclerosis in 2018. Her father was an avid runner who did half marathons, and he lived vicariously through Cheri’s own activities and runs when the disease confined him to a wheelchair. Now, she will continue to run, and get muddy, in his honor.
She carried his memory with her across the country, through five cities, and across the final finish line in Denver. Now that she’s completed her goal, Cheri is looking back on the past year…and ahead to the future. This is her MuckFest year in review!
When I first embarked on this tribute mission celebrating my Dad, finishing all five MuckFest runs was a goal I knew I could achieve, but completion seemed like an eternity away. And yet, here we are; MuckFest Denver is in the books, and dad’s one-year passing anniversary is just a short month away.
MuckFest Denver was the perfect location for our final Muck of the season. We were swarmed with love by the National MS Society (THANK YOU for the awesome tent décor!), local colleagues who cheered us on, dedicated Muckers who joined me from California, and my husband and three kids who have been my biggest champions throughout this journey.
Aside from my family, I also must give a HUGE thanks to our MuckFest champion, Katie! Thanks to her, Team (M)ike (S)mith got an official shout out by the race emcee, thanking me for my commitment to running all five 2019 MuckFest races, which was cool! Thankfully, I was hiding behind sunglasses the entire day…having been fighting back the tears all morning. Those tears started when I hugged Katie, who had been our helping hand all year, and gave her a commemorative Team (M)ike (S)mith jersey. Those tears became even harder to hold back as we approached the final starting line of my journey celebrating dad.
Each race had its unique way of casting its emotion over me and Denver was no different. We managed to get all the kids up with time to enjoy a hearty breakfast at the hotel.
Traveling with the kids is a constant game of zone defense, so I was naturally more concerned about ensuring my kids didn’t make a mess of the buffet or break any plates than I was concerned about this being the end. But as we loaded up the truck and we headed to the race, I felt a sense of numbness, questioning: What will be next?
I never expected these races to magically end my mourning but ringing the bell as we crossed the finish certainly overwhelmed me with a feeling of bittersweet joy.
I loved feeling a sense of purpose. I loved being fulfilled by bringing awareness to the MS Society through these races and writing about each adventure has been therapeutic. But the truth is, I’m finding comfort knowing this is just the beginning.
As I think about ways to continue my dad’s legacy and find new opportunities to talk about MS, I am committed to getting more involved with the National MS Society at the Board Level in Northern California. October is my employer, Microsoft’s, GIVE Month, so it’s an optimal time to raise my hand a little higher to bring awareness across the teams I work with and share my story. And hopefully my path will continue to cross with others who are coping with a parent, family member or someone close who is battling the disease.
If you’ve read any of my past posts, you know how strongly I believe dad has played a huge role in the orchestration of these events. How else could race one land on my husband’s birthday, and the final race fall on our 16th year wedding anniversary? Not a coincidence if you ask me. All of this was meant to be!
This has been the fastest year of my life, and while I seriously need to find a way to slow things down, I am incredibly grateful that when I look back on the year, I have an endless stream of stories and memories to continue my dad’s legacy and I know he would be proud!
I must give a special thanks to my support system who helped me get to the finish! Thank you to the whole MuckFest team; Holly Reichenbach and Hilton; Tre Moore and Southwest Airlines; and my traveling MuckCrew: Mark Devlin, Siobhan Guthrie, Jen Klamo and Ana Brenner!
Thank you, MuckFest!
If you want to hear more from Cheri, don’t worry – She has been keeping us up to date all year long! These are her other blog posts:
- Meeting Cheri before her first MuckFest in Boston
- Checking in with Cheri after Philadelphia
- And again after New Jersey
- Getting excited for her final MuckFest after Chicago
We are so excited and honored to have been able to share Cheri’s story this year, and can’t wait to see more of Team (M)ike (S)mith in the future. Muck on, Cheri!