Chicago, you were amazing! Check out these sneak peeks of MuckFest® MS Chicago!

Participant photos are available here!

Cheers to the Windy City! You’re muckin’ awesome!

If you have trouble accessing your Participant Photos, please email support@sweatworks.net.

MuckFest MS Chicago is this weekend, and if you happen to see a team in bright tie dye t-shirts, you can bet it’s team “MARCHING ON.” Led by captain Cathy S., she is certainly a Mucker on a Mission. After receiving her own diagnosis almost a decade ago, she has been marching on and never giving up. She’s hoping her Muck story will inspire others to get down and dirty in the mud.

Tell us your Muck story…

I was diagnosed with MS in 2008. I had my symptoms a lot longer as I am sure many other people have before they were diagnosed. I started my team “Marching On” in 2014 with only six people. I created a Facebook page called MuckFest MS “Marching On.” Our friends, family, and other people living with MS follow the page and know that we are doing this for them. In 2015 and 2016 my team grew and we LOVED Mucking.

This year we have 20 people on the team. This is the biggest team I had yet. This is also the most I have raised this year so far.

I named it “Marching On” because that was the year I decided I was going to march on in life with MS and that MS no longer controlled my life.

MuckFest MS has 18 obstacles! Tell us about your favorites!

The obstacle I am most proud of conquering is the Spider Web, because I am afraid of heights, and I had so much anxiety on that one. I didn’t do it the first year because of that.

My favorite obstacle would be the Swing Set because I can get a chance to wash off some of the mud. LOL. I think I am most excited this year because I wasn’t able to make it last year and this year my team is bigger than ever.

What advice do you have for first-time Muckers?

The BEST ADVICE I could give you is to tape your shoes on. And wear knee pads for everyone and maybe elbow pads for people with delicate skin.

I also LOVE The Lil’ Muckers Area! Stop by that area! My daughter really thought she was making a difference by doing her part as a Lil’ Mucker. This is the first year she is mucking it with our team and she is really excited!

Why do you continue to Muck?

I love Muckfest MS because, first of all, it is fundraising for MS. And it raises awareness for MS. Oh, and it is FUN! And did I say that it is for people with all types of physical activity levels?! You can crawl, walk, jog, run, you can even walk around obstacles if you feel like you don’t want to do it. It’s okay! Most of all, it is FUN!

I LOVE THE TEAMWORK! If you don’t have a team and are looking for one that has all types of people you can feel free to join mine. We help each other. Some people do run through and run back to check on us but we ALWAYS CROSS THE FINISH LINE TOGETHER!

Friends are the family we choose. Leslie L, a Chicago Mucker, chose Ron as her family, and she supported him through his battle with MS that lasted for almost his entire life. Leslie founded team Ron’s Muddy Buddies in Chicago two years ago, and has raised more than $2,000 this year alone for MuckFest MS and the National MS Society. She visited with him weekly, and still calls Ron “Superman,” saying his “positive attitude and fighting spirit should be an inspiration to all.”

Sadly, this past June, Ron’s battle with MS ended when he passed away, and now Leslie runs in his honor.

She says, “I want to continue the fight against this horrible disease in his name. I hope to see a cure for MS in my lifetime, so others don’t have to go through all he went through.”

In her own words, Leslie told us more about Ron’s strength…

My friend Ron had been living with this debilitating disease for 33 years. He was diagnosed at the age of 16 after having vision issues and tripping and falling during football practice. Less than a year later, he was in a wheelchair. MS didn’t stop Ron from achieving his goals … graduating high school and college, becoming a CPA, and working as an accountant for Motorola for over 16 years, where he was promoted four times and received awards for his work. His condition continued to worsen as he lost the use of his arms and had to work with a voice activated computer. He eventually had to stop working when his speech became difficult for the computer to recognize.

Ron always felt blessed to have wonderful family and friends who supported him throughout his life and all of his challenges. MS increased his challenges, but it never broke his positive attitude, perseverance or strength.

Ron always said, “You have to play the hand you were dealt in life. I think my hand is pretty good. I would put it up against anyone’s. If we were playing a game of five card stud, my first card would be loving family and friends. My second card would be determination. My third card would be intelligence. My fourth card would be a good sense of humor. My fifth card would be Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While some may think that last card I was dealt was a bad thing, it has made me the person I am today.”

I’ve watched Ron battle MS since his teens. It took away his ability to move his body and eat and left him with impaired vision and speech. But his brilliant mind, huge heart, winning smile and fighting spirit always remained intact. ❤

While he may not have be able to move a muscle on his own, he was the strongest person I know. 💪

“Nobody knows that I have MS. Nobody would look at me and know, so I don’t go up to people and tell them. So, MuckFest MS was a great way to let everyone in, to bring everyone together.”

Kristen M. from Chicago was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 19, right in the middle of her years as a college athlete in field hockey. Doctors initially told her that she couldn’t play her sport anymore, but she kept going. Eventually she found the right doctor for her, and started shots and treatments multiple times a week. But she kept playing. She played all four years of field hockey, and has never let MS slow her down since.

It should be no surprise then, that when Kristen and her family committed to MuckFest MS in Chicago in 2017, they went full force.

“We had about 70 people, including kids, family and friends who all came together. My family came in from South Carolina, Wisconsin and California. Everybody had matching tee shirts and had a ton of fun!”

Her husband Chris rented two school buses to shuttle their enormous team to and from the event, and the whole group met at Kristen and Chris’s home for breakfast beforehand. He also paid for their entire team’s registration fees.

Says Kristen, “That was huge! Chris is a big supporter of the National MS Society and wanted our team members to be able to focus on collecting donations.”

Talk about a committed family! With Chris setting that example, Kristen said her family reached out to anyone and everyone to be a part of their team: the Mother’s Muckers.

“I have friends that don’t run at all and can’t stand running that did it. Friends that just had babies that did it. Our parents did it. Anyone of any age can do it! One of my friends who I work out with, he was helping people get up the ladders and the ropes and helping them do it step by step. Everyone was working together!

If you can’t do all of it, just start with one obstacle. Just getting out there and crossing the start line and getting a little muddy… you’ll be good to go!”

Kristen is ready to go for this year’s Chicago MuckFest MS, which is coming up fast! She is especially looking forward to the Flying Muckers zip line, and to adding even more members to their team. One new team member is her eldest daughter Caroline. She is the first of Kristen and Chris’s kids to be old enough to run, but Kristen says the rest of the family (Eleanor who is 4.5 years old, Anna who is 6 and Claire who is 9) can’t wait to join the Mother Muckers in future years, too.

“”I have four girls and they love being dirty, so this is a perfect event for them! They’re always dirty anyway, so this time we’re all dirty together!”

That is the best part of MuckFest MS for Kristen; being surrounded by her family and friends. And that really includes everyone in the muck!

“It’s nice to know that you have that support. Everyone is out there for the same cause and to make a difference. That’s huge.”

If you see the Mother’s Muckers in Chicago (and how could you miss them?!) give them a high five and shout out! They want to see lots of Windy City muckers!

Kristen encourages, “Do it with a group. Do it with all your friends. You see people you would never think would get dirty, and you see them down in the mud.”

Kristen, we’ll see you there. 🙂

Detroit, you were amazing! Check out these sneak peeks of MuckFest® MS Detroit!

Participant photos are here as well!

Cheers, Detroit! You’re muckin’ awesome!

If you have trouble accessing your Participant Photos, please email support@sweatworks.net.

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Michigan, we are heading your way this weekend! MuckFest MS © is hitting The Great Lakes State for our first Midwest Muck on Saturday, and our Detroit Muckers are ready! We chatted with Kandace W. from “Team No MSing Around!” about her favorite obstacles, how MuckFest MS helps her enjoy every moment, and why everyone should get a little muddy.

What is your favorite thing about MuckFest MS?

The atmosphere.  The feeling of support.

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And of course we love the connection to the National MS Society as well!

I am grateful for the National MS Society for many reasons!  It has helped me understand versions of myself, and others, who are directly, and indirectly, touched by MS.  I have been able to direct folks to the site for educational and social opportunities, research updates and support.

What’s your favorite obstacle?

I’m a little torn! It is between Slippy Sloppy and Walk on Water.  Each of them freak me out a little but are ultra fun to complete! They both also happen to be obstacles where you are able to witness participants cheer one another on; yelling encouraging words and erupting loudly when someone who doubted their ability to make it across does so.

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Tell us about your team!

Team No MSing Around! is comprised of family. My husband, brother, my mom in law, a couple bffs, an uncle and some coworkers are the core group of our team. We just double dog dare people, regardless of ability or affiliation, to come have a fun time with us!  We have been blessed to have a great network of cheerleaders come and support us, too.  They are in on the shenanigans, but just stay cleaner.

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If you had to give someone ONE tip about fundraising, what would it be?

ASK! ASK! ASK!  I have been surprised by the folks who have come out in financial support of the National MS Society because I happened to ask.  Some individuals I assumed would donate nothing have shocked me and have given hundreds.  Others lovingly pledge smaller amounts, which all add up! Don’t beat people over the wallet, but give them the opportunity to consider a cause that means something to you.

Some people are worried that MuckFest MS would be too difficult… what would you say to them?

C’mon!  There are literally hundreds of friendly folks out there who are willing to help you.  If something intimidates you a little too much, you can even bypass that obstacle — just encourage someone else during your walk :).

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Why do you Muck?

I Muck it with MS because I am blessed to get mucky for my sisters and brothers who are not able to physically participate.

How can other Muckers recruit people to their team?

Brag it up! I am excited about participating and I think that enthusiasm is felt by those around me. The older we get, the options for being just plain silly can escape us.  So why not raise money and awareness for a GREAT, personal cause and play around in mud at the same time?

I run across many who are skeptical of their ability to finish a 5K. Team No MSing Around! sticks together and happily takes walking breaks! We all finish and celebrate that victory as a unit. Besides, if the person with a chronic neurological diagnosis can participate — many others can too!

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What’s the energy like at MuckFest MS?

Happily insane.  You have grown ups from many walks of life playing around in mud. That’s the backdrop of a silly time. It proves itself to be a loud, bright, supportive and non-competitive atmosphere. People of other teams cheering strangers on, providing tips for completion or a literal helping hand; it just feels like a society I want to exist in.  There are some great folks who happen to have MS volunteering, participating, cheering and feeling the love from the crowd. It’s like a big (muddy) hug.

How has MuckFest MS affected your day-to-day life?

Participating in MuckFest MS reminds me to enjoy the moment, learn from others, not to take life too seriously, and to encourage individuals who are different (and the same) as me.

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Muckfest_2017_after

For Lisa G. from Detroit, multiple sclerosis has been part of her life since her mom was diagnosed two decades ago. She has regularly supported the National MS Society and has found a new way to contribute: by running in the Detroit MuckFest MS ®! She has been planning on mucking for the last few years, and in 2017, she completed her first MuckFest MS with Team MUCK4MOM! Her family and friends ran with her, and supported her every step of the way! Her husband and nephew even walked alongside her for the whole route and took videos! This year will be even better….

How did you learn about MuckFest MS?

I think it was about 5 years ago in 2013.  As a regular supporter of the National MS Society, I receive the MS Connection materials and noticed this event. I had participated in a few other mud runs in Michigan, and I signed up as an individual participant.  I ended up not running it due to a family wedding.  It took me a while to get my team together and we ran our first MUCK4MOM team run last year in 2017 and together raised over $2,000.

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How was Muck different from, or exactly what you expected?

It was much more fun than I expected!  I had done 2 other mud runs the years prior, and this one had so much more camaraderie and support. It had way more obstacles, and more challenging obstacles, than the other races.

What’s one thing you wish you had known for your first MuckFest MS?

That I should have arrived way earlier than my heat started so I could hang out and check out the entire set up – all the booths with food and drink! Also, I would have brought more of my family to the event, just so my nephews could play in Lil’ Muckers.  They would have had a blast!

What brings you back to MuckFest MS this year?

I am passionate about supporting the National MS Society and I love a good muddy obstacle course.  Putting them both together is perfect!  I hate what this disease has done to my mom and will continue to help fight it as much as I can.

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What is your favorite obstacle?  

It is hard to narrow it down to just one.  I think I liked the Flying Muckers zip line mostly because I have never zipped before, and it is one of the things on my bucket list.  A close second was Crash Landing.  I am fearful of heights, but for some reason, I was able to jump with no issues.

What was a challenge you overcame as part of MuckFest MS that you are extremely proud of?

This was the first fundraising effort that I have done and to be able to raise $2,000 with our small team of 5 was awesome.  We have a team of 6 this year and want to exceed that amount…even double it!

What are your favorite parts of MuckFest MS?

First, it is all about raising money to fight the ugly disease of MS.  Second, we are doing it while having a blast and getting dirty with other people that have the same passion.  The people who are part of the event and the people running in the event are all super cool and it feels like one big family.

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What are you looking forward to this year?

Additional family members are going to join in on the fun.  My dad and sister are returning to do it again this year, and my brother, nephew and cousin all decided to join us.  We are a crazy family and it is going to be so fun!

What are your tips for first-time Muckers?

#1 – Duct tape your shoes and have a pair of workout gloves.  The tape around your shoes (over your laces around the bottom of your foot) will prevent your shoes from falling off in the deep mud.  The gloves will prevent scrapes and help with crawling and climbing obstacles.

#2 – Bring a change of clothes, as MuckFest MS does a great job of having the shower/rinse truck and changing rooms.

#3 – MOST IMPORTANT – HAVE FUN!

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Why is this run so important?

MS is slowly stealing my mom from my family and me.  I want to do as much as possible to support the National MS Society in raising money for research and support of those with this disease.  This event provides me and my family/friends a way to create awareness and fundraise in a way that has a more positive and fun twist.

How can someone join or donate to your team?

Feel free to go to my personal page here! We even have MUCK4MOM swag!

KD

MuckFest® MS New Jersey is coming up this Saturday, and we are muckin’ excited to get extra muddy with the East Coast. Just one of the Muckers joining us is Kristy D., who is taking on MuckFest MS with a smile on her muddy face. She’s an inspiration to Muckers nationwide, and she can’t wait to ring that victory bell. 

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What is your favorite thing about MuckFest MS?

Having fun and completing each obstacle. I know one day that I may not be able to do everything on that course but until that day, every year me and my family will be having fun and getting dirty.

Tell us about your team: Are they friends, coworkers, family members, a mix? How did you get them all together?

Team MS’d up is made up of family and friends. Between Walk MS and MuckFest MS I have about 50+ different members. I encourage everyone to reach out to someone new each year to recruit more members. The more the muckier.

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If you had to give someone ONE tip about fundraising, what would it be?

Take all the help you can get. Ask family and friends for their input and help. People are always willing to help out for a great cause. Since I started my team, my sister Lacey is the brains behind the fundraising, my best friend Margaret helps with gathering donation prizes, my mother Barbara crochets her signature American Flag blanket (the biggest raffle hit), our local bar, The Rock, hosts our fundraisers, etc. When giving everyone responsibility for the fundraising event, it makes the event run smoothly and you succeed as a team.

Some people are worried that MuckFest MS would be too difficult… what would you say to them?

MuckFest MS is for everyone. There is no pressure to run or complete any obstacles you are not comfortable completing. Every team is there for the same reason to have fun and raise awareness. If you do not have a team, join mine: MS’d Up.

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Why do you Muck?

I Muck for me and those who are fighting MS.

If you had to give someone ONE tip about building their team, what would it be?

Promote on social media. Have all your friends and family share your story and your fundraisers.You will be surprised how quickly word spreads. If that doesn’t work be annoying 🙂

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What’s the energy like at MuckFest MS?

Its an amazing feeling walking into the MuckFest MS event. The positive vibes and heartfelt support from family and friends can make you emotional. You are instantly surround by people who care, and are passionate about this cause. I remember the first time I attended MuckFest MS. All of my family and friends were there so it was emotional for me. I knew I was loved but that moment made me realize I am not in this journey alone.

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How has MuckFest MS empowered you to conquer life’s obstacles?

MuckFest MS empowered me by allowing me to think of life as one big MuckFest. I will face obstacles along the way but with family and friends by my side, I can get through anything life throws at me. Sometimes it may be scary, sometimes it may be hard but I know that I will fight through it and I will win.

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We wouldn’t be able to make any of our MuckFest MS events happen without teamwork (it DOES make the dream work) and help from our local National MS Society chapters. This week, as we get New Jersey ready for a weekend of serious muddy fun, we have been working with the New Jersey chapter of the National MS Society, and especially with Cory Z. Cory has been an amazing part of the MuckFest MS family for years, and he’s giving us a sneak peek at what you can all expect this weekend…

What is your favorite MuckFest MS obstacle?

Flying Muckers is my favorite. It is so much fun watching everyone complete the obstacle. Some people try to hold on as long as possible (even after they hit the stop block), others try to show off and do some fancy dismounts from the zipline. It is always fun, and the jump in the water is nice and refreshing, too!

What is the best part about working on MuckFest MS?

Seeing all those MuckFaces and the ‘I Muck with MS’ bandanas! We muck to fundraise and raise awareness to help end MS. It is great to see everyone coming out, having fun, and meeting each other. The best is when there is that “Ah-ha” moment in the Muckin’ Corral, when people realize what they signed up for, and more importantly, why. Our Muck Master Al puts it best: “Today you are going to get stuck in the mud for a bit. Just remember people living with MS every day may be experiencing this type of feeling everyday as a symptom of their MS. So for you it will be a moment, but for them it is every day of their lives.”

What are you most looking forward to about MuckFest MS New Jersey?

Our new venue! We are all very excited to see the new course and obstacle layout there. It should be a mucky good time!

Any advice for first-time muckers?

Prepare to get muddy! Also, make sure your shoes are tied on really well. No matter how many warnings we give, someone will lose a shoe while entering the Muckin’ Corral (the key is to keep moving). It is always fun seeing a group of five people digging through the mud for a lost shoe. There have been some close calls but the shoe is always found.

MuckFest MS is an experience like no other. For most people, once you try it, you’re hooked…but that first Muck can be a crazy experience! That’s why we love hearing from first-time Muckers. We’re inspired bytheir feelings of accomplishment, laughter, and strength, and by the muddy memories they have with their teammates.We spoke to one first-time Mucker, Dave, who joined us for the first time this year in Philly after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year. He took on the 5K like a warrior, and shared some of his favorite memories with us… 

What were you feeling the morning before the race began? 

I was excited and relieved.  Since I was diagnosed with MS last year, I knew I wanted to run in the MuckFest MS to support the cause.  At first, I thought I would be running by myself, but I was quickly able to get 3 family members and friends to join me (which I was perfectly content with).  As I started telling more friends about the event, those numbers quickly rose.  I eventually had 35 people running with me, and as a team, we raised $5000.  I was completely humbled by all the support and was hoping the event lived up to the hype I was giving it as I recruited for my team.  Not only did it live up to the hype, it far surpassed it with many of my friends telling me how excited they were to do it again next year. 

What was your favorite obstacle and why? 

Despite the awkward landing into the water, the “Flying Muckers” zip line was my favorite obstacle.  It was a thrill to hang on to the zip line all the way to the end and let go flying into a 6-foot-deep pool of muddy water.  It was also the most entertaining to watch my teammates, as each one had a different reaction to the obstacle. 

What was an obstacle that you were proud of conquering? 

Instead of being focused on a specific obstacle, I was most proud of  finishing the 5k as a whole. Long distances have always been difficult for me, so the hardest parts of the course were the long stretches of walking/running in between the obstacles. 

Talk about the excitement of crossing the finish line! 

It was amazing to cross the finish line with my entire team. We had a great mix of athletes and couch potatoes, and everyone worked together to make sure we all finished.  There was a huge sense of accomplishment, and I was proud that everyone took time out of their weekend to join me and complete the course. 

What is the one thing you wish you’d known before you took the course? 

To always keep your mouth closed.  I consumed a 5-course meal of mud throughout the run.  Now I know for next year to bring a beverage to wash it down! 

See more of Dave’s journey…