MuckFest MS: Tell us about yourself.
Danielle: I am a 32 year old wife, mother of 2 amazing boys, daughter, sister, niece, aunt, friend, and fighter! In December 2010, I woke up to optic neuritis (a condition consisting of inflammation of the optic nerve which may cause partial or complete vision loss that may be temporary or permanent) in my right eye. I have been legally blind in my left eye due to amblyopia since childhood. Injury to my “good” eye has always been one of my biggest fears. That fear was now standing in front of me, quite literally in my face. Statistically, I had a great chance of recovering my vision. A 95% chance. Well, I should play the lotto! Eight months later, I experienced severe nerve pain in my chest and arms as the worst of several mystery symptoms. This sent me back to the doctor and prompted a series of long and unpleasant tests. I fought through anxiety during lengthy MRIs, blood draws with stingy veins, a spinal tap, ultrasounds, and exams, exams, exams. I felt like a medical hot potato being passed from ER doctor to family doctor to general surgeon to ophthalmologist to neuro-ophthalmologist to neurologist, and finally, to an MS specialist.
Today, I live with an official diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. It has changed my life in so many ways, the biggest of which was leaving me legally blind in both eyes. My life is different but not worse. It is harder but no less rewarding. I am so incredibly blessed with an amazing support system of family and friends. They remind me every day of how strong I can be and are there to lend their strength on the days that I can’t.
Unfortunately, not everyone with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis is so lucky. I now have a true understanding of “help yourself by helping others.” MS is a disease as unique and different as the individuals who have it. There is one thing, however, that we all have in common, and that is the need for a cure. I participate in MuckFest MS not only for myself but for all individuals and their loved ones who are affected by multiple sclerosis. MS might slow us down, but it will not stop us! Read More
“Let’s go, let’s go! Good job! Keep going, you can do this!” were all chants being heard throughout the 5K obstacle course at MuckFest MS Boston, which raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Teams gathered after a year of fundraising to support the cause. Even in the chilly rain, a buzz of excitement pulsed through the crowd of participants as they lined up to run their wave. Runners who ran in support of loved ones carried tokens of commemoration, including pictures on t-shirts, “Dad” written in Sharpie on one young woman’s leg, and men (yes men!) in tutus supporting their teammates. The support was overwhelming as throngs of people cheered their fellow runners on to the finish line even as temperatures dropped into the 40s and the rain continued. Runner after runner lined up at the starting line with a smile stretched across their face and a determination to overcome.
From my station at The Spinner, I witnessed men, women, and children grip a wet rope dangling from a rotating bar as it carried its victims across a crescent swamp of mud and water three feet deep. Some participants faced the rope with confidence and some with hesitancy as they pulled themselves up and off land. There were many techniques to this obstacle, from the traditional “grip the rope and don’t fall in” embrace to the clever upside down pull up, but what remained the same was the laughter and positivity that seemed to hover over everyone at the event. As some team members made it across the mud pit dry, others fell in and had to wade through the muck to the other side, but the response was always the same: cheers, laughter and applause!
What became evident to me at MuckFest MS Boston is that training and guts can only get you so far. But teammates, endurance, encouragement and a willing spirit can get you over even the scariest obstacles. Together, we can!
Our mud obstacle course has an obstacle named Big Balls. Need we say more?
At MuckFest® MS, we come together though mucky hilarity to work towards a world free of multiple sclerosis. If you’re a first-time mucker, you might be brand new to the incredible work of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Rachael Nuwash, a veteran MuckFest MS Denver mucker and the Director of Emerging Campaigns for the National MS Society, shared the following with us.
The National MS Society’s vision is: A World Free of MS.
The Society’s mission is:
- We mobilize people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS.
- We are a driving force of MS research and treatment to stop disease progression, restore function, and end MS forever.
- We develop, deliver and leverage resources to enhance care for people with MS and quality of life for those affected by the disease.
- We are leaders in the worldwide MS movement, mobilizing millions of people to do something about MS now.
- We are activists.
- We develop and align human, business and financial resources to achieve breakthrough results.
The National MS Society continues to recognize and invest in the value of a nationwide obstacle course event as a means to engage an important new audience into the MS movement and build a significant new source of funds for cutting-edge research into the cause, treatment and a cure for MS. Since its inception, MuckFest MS has raised over $16 million for the Society. In addition, 78% of 2013 participants, many with a connection to MS, were brand new to the Society and had never participated in a Society event, helping us to reach a major goal of engaging a new audience.
Meet Todd Garten, one of our awesome muckers from MuckFest MS St. Louis. With the help of his teammates on Team Doin’ it for Deb Garten, Todd raises awareness and funds for the National MS Society to honor his mother. Todd shares that his mom was a fighter and, if she were alive, she would be doing all she could to raise money and awareness for MS.
MuckFest MS: What made you decide to initially register for MuckFest MS?
Todd: I am a runner and am always looking for new and different races. I had never done a mud fun run and that alone made me want to do it, but when I learned that the event raised awareness and funds for the National MS Society, I was sold!
MuckFest MS: Why do you support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society?
Todd: My mom had multiple sclerosis and lost her battle with the disease in November of 2002. She was only 49 and just two weeks away from her 50th birthday. Before she died, mom was such an advocate for the National MS Society, and recently I decided it was time I took up her torch. I personally don’t have a great deal of money, but I know that when I do my part, I make a difference.
MuckFest MS: When was your first MuckFest MS event, and why do you continue to get mucky with us?
Todd: My first MuckFest MS was last year’s event in 2013. It was a blast! I was able to assemble a team of five to fundraise and conquer the mud and obstacles with me. It was so much fun coming together on the day of the event, putting on our team shirts, and walking around the festival before the race started. Everyone had a great time getting mucky and laughing at each other as we slipped and slid through the course. I will be back this summer in St. Louis to do it all over again. This event is run so well, and the obstacles are really well thought out. Not only that, but 100% of the money raised goes to the National MS Society to help find a cure for this disease, and I know that would make my mom so happy. Just like the name of our MuckFest MS team, I continue to get mucky each year because I’m “Doin’ it for Deb Garten“.
Todd will share more with us before the St. Louis event, so check back to hear how his training and fundraising are going!
Update from Event
Here are some great photos from Pat’s Muckers at MuckFest® MS Boston 2014!
Pat’s Muckers in 2013 vs. 2014
Michael’s Trainer, Jason, & Michael in 2013 and 2014
Michael and his Sister, Julia
What do you plan to wear to the event?
Last year I wore clothing that was quick drying so that I was not carrying the extra weight of soaked clothing. But this year, we have Pat’s Muckers Team shirts that I designed, so I will wear that.
I definitely found gloves to be a HUGE help last year, so I will be using those again. The gloves were helpful for grip (hello Spinner!) and also kept my hands from getting crazy muddy. I actually hate getting dirty, if you can believe it! I think an older pair of sneakers is a good idea. The pair that I wore last year survived but that wasn’t the case for everyone.
We’re excited to check back in with Michael Fagone, team captain of Pat’s Muckers. He runs to honor his mother, Pat, who battled multiple sclerosis for 46 years. MuckFest® MS Boston in 2013 was Michael’s first running event of any kind and followed his decision to take control of his health – which resulted in a 240 pound weight loss. We asked Michael some questions about how he approaches training and fundraising for MuckFest MS Boston.
Do you do any special training before the event?
I have mainly been working on my running. I try to run three days a week – one focusing on distance, one for speed work, and a shorter, more straightforward run. I am also doing a couple days of strength training. Though not essential, it can be extremely beneficial when it comes to some of the obstacles. The Spinner, Mt. Muck-imanjaro and Spider Web come to mind! And my trainer insisted that I mention that you should do some stretching after you exercise to promote recovery and increase flexibility.
Are you and your teammates pumped for an adventure? Next up in our MuckFest® MS “Meet the Obstacles” series is Mt. Muck-imanjaro. Get ready to begin your ascent of this mucking awesome obstacle.
Learn more about the MuckFest MS course here.
Did you get to meet the ‘young at heart rocker’, The Swing Set?