Heather Ward is a 2-time MuckFest® MS Boston mucker and the Team Captain of the Muckin’ A’s. She shares with us her top 8 Team Captain Tips and her story of being diagnosed with MS.

MuckFest MS Team Captain Tips

I was diagnosed with MS in 2000. At that time, I was unable to use the right side of my body and my speech was incoherent. I began trying different therapies. Slowly, the use of my right side returned. I was basically free of any major symptoms for almost 12 years. Then, last January, I suffered another major relapse. I could not feel my body from my chest down, could barely walk, and was unable to drive for over three months. My support system of family and friends is invaluable to my recovery. I cannot thank my husband enough.

For fourteen years, I have participated in the MS Walk Concord and have raised over $50,000. What is ironic is that, prior to even being diagnosed, I completed my very first MS Walk for exercise and because it supported a good cause. Last year, I switched gears and joined MuckFest MS. I captained the Muckin’ A’s, a team of 40 people. Together, we raised over $8,000! Because I was recently recovering, some of my teammates walked with me and helped me through the obstacles. I had to skip a few obstacles and was very slow.

At this year’s MuckFest MS Boston, my goal was to run the entire event and complete every obstacle. And, I did it! I personally raised almost $12,000. My team reached 108 members and raised over $27,000, the most in the country! What is amazing is the support that I received from strangers. I was able to obtain over 40 corporate sponsors!

Because of my personal connection to MS, my life’s goal is to raise as much money as possible to help those with MS who suffer more than me and to hopefully find a cure.

Thanks to Heather for sharing her helpful tips and her journey with MS. We can’t wait to see what Heather and Team Muckin’ A’s will be able to accomplish at next year’s MuckFest MS Boston!

MuckFest MS Muck Pie Recipe

We hope you have a sweet tooth, because we have an absolutely mucktastic mud pie recipe to share! This recipe was created by Aaron Manuyag, a mucker, pastry chef and baker from Chicago. He is currently a baker at Nico Osteria under respected pastry chef Amanda Rockman. Aaron trained at the French Pastry School in Chicago before going on to work in kitchens in Beverly Hills, Orlando, Phoenix and Chicago.

MuckFest MS Muck Pie Recipe

MuckFest® MS Muck Pie Recipe

Step #1: Chocolate Graham Crust

5 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
2 cups Sugar
1 lb Unsalted Butter
4 Tablespoons High Quality Dark Cocoa

In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cocoa. Melt the butter and then add it to the mixture. Mix thoroughly. Spread the graham mixture in a 6-8 inch spring form pan, but reserve just a little to crumble on top of the cake later. Press the graham mixture down into the pan making it as even and flat as possible. Press any excess graham up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust at 325°F for 12-15 minutes. Let the crust cool, and then put the pan in the freezer.

MuckFest_MS_Muck_Pie_Step1_Recipe_1

Note: Most grocery stores sell graham cracker crumbs, but if you have trouble finding them, simply buy a pack of graham crackers and put them into a food processor until they are completely ground up.

Step #2: MuckDuck’s Famous Coffee Ice Cream

2 cups Heavy Cream
1 cup Whole Milk
2 tsp Salt
1 cup Sugar
3 Egg Yolks
2 cups Whole Espresso Beans

Prepare a large bowl filled with ice and water, and then place a slightly smaller bowl on top of the ice bath.

In a small pot, combine the heavy cream, whole milk, salt and half of the sugar.

MuckFest_MS_Muck_Pie_Step1_Recipe_12Bring the mixture up to a simmer, and then turn off the heat. Crush the espresso beans just a little bit with the bottom of a pan or bowl, add the beans to the pot, and cover the pot with plastic wrap. Let the espresso beans steep in the mixture for 10-15 minutes.

MuckFest_MS_Muck_Pie_Step2_Recipe_2

Strain out the espresso beans.

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Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the egg yolks with the other half of the sugar, and whisk them together.

MuckFest_MS_Muck_Pie_Step2_Recipe_4Turn the heat back on under the cream and milk mixture. As it begins to heat up, pour about a cup of the liquid into the egg mixture. Whisk the two mixtures together, and be sure that the liquids are not so hot that the eggs cook. Transfer the combined egg/cream mixture into the pot and continue stirring with a rubber spatula. As you stir, make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, and continue stirring until the custard becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and keep its shape when you drag your finger across the spoon.

Immediately pour the custard through a strainer and directly into the bowl on top of the ice bath. Whisk the custard every few minutes until it has completely cooled. Wrap the bowl and store the custard in a cooler overnight.

Note: You will need an ice cream maker for this step. If you’re using a Cuisinart ice cream maker or an ice cream maker with a bowl that needs to be frozen, be sure to put it in the freezer. If you do not have an ice cream maker [or are like anyone on our staff who can’t cook up anything besides obstacles and muck], you can always use store bought ice cream!

Step #3: Assembly

After chilling the ice cream custard overnight, transfer the custard to the ice cream maker and spin the ice cream according to your machine’s instructions.

As soon as you have spun the ice cream, add a thin layer of the ice cream to the spring form pan (about half an inch).

MuckFest_MS_Muck_Pie_Step5_Recipe_2Then, pour a thin layer of some caramel topping of your choice on top of the ice cream, and spread it evenly.MuckFest_MS_Muck_Pie_Step5_Recipe_0MuckFest_MS_Muck_Pie_Step5_Recipe_1

Next, spread the rest of the ice cream on top of the caramel layer. Level out the ice cream with a spatula and then immediately place the cake in a freezer.

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Depending on the freezer, it might take up to 2 days for it to completely freeze. When the cake is thoroughly frozen, rub your hands against the sides of the pan to warm up the ice cream cake, and remove the sides of the spring form pan.

MuckFest_MS_Muck_Pie_Step5_Recipe_4

Step #4: Chocolate Magic Muck Shell

1 cup Chocolate
1/2 cup Coconut Oil

In a small pot, heat the coconut oil and add the chocolate. When the mixture is completely homogenized, you will pour the Magic Muck Shell over the finished ice cream cake, letting it run over the sides of the cake. It should take less than a minute for the shell to form.

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Step #5: Chocolate Dirt Crumble

Finally, take the extra chocolate graham crumbs and toss them with a pinch of some large flaked sea salt and plain graham cracker crumbs. Cut and enjoy with your teammates! Or by yourself, we won’t judge!

MuckFest_MS_Muck_Pie_Step5_Recipe_FinalImage

Many thanks to Aaron for sharing this delectable recipe! Do you have your own Muck Pie recipe you want to share?

Complete Ingredient List

5 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
2 cups Sugar
1 lb Unsalted Butter
4 Tablespoons High Quality Dark Cocoa
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 cup Whole Milk
2 tsp Salt
1 cup Sugar
3 Egg Yolks
2 cups Whole Espresso Beans
1 cup Chocolate
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
Pinch of Large Flaked Sea Salt
1 cup Carmel Sauce, purchased

 

MuckFest® MS is ready for you, New Jersey

The MuckFest MS Swing Set

MuckFest MS New Jersey Sneak Preview - 5

First MuckFest MS New Jersey Obstacle: Triple Pits. Three times the fun, three times the muck!MuckFest MS New Jersey Sneak Preview - 3

The Spider Web is ready to get you tangled up on our mucky mud and obstacle 5K course.MuckFest MS New Jersey Sneak Preview - 1

The Big Balls are ready for you, New Jersey…but are you ready for the Big Balls!?MuckFest MS New Jersey Sneak Preview - 2

After the muck, enjoy your beverage and play some ducky cornhole in the MuckFestival!MuckFest MS New Jersey Sneak Preview - 4

We’re excited to check back in with Todd Garten, team captain of Team Doin’ it for Deb Garten. As a MuckFest® MS St. Louis mucker, Todd raises awareness and funds for the National MS Society to honor his mother. Todd does MuckFest MS because his mom was a fighter, and he wants to do all he can to raise money and awareness for MS in her memory.

MuckFest MS St. Louis 2014 Participant's writing on their arm

MuckFest MS: Do you do any special training before the event?

Todd: Personally, I try to run a couple of miles every day. I’m doing my first half marathon this fall, so I need all the training I can get for that. But the great thing about MuckFest MS is that you don’t have to be a runner to participate. I see people buzz past me on the course, and I see folks walking. The course and obstacles are really doable no matter your ability. If you encounter something that looks too difficult to do, you can go around it. But, as I challenged my little brother last year – you’re here, so you might as well push yourself to do as much as you can. He surprised himself with what he was able to do!

Read More

Meet Michael Furey, a repeat mucker participating in this year’s MuckFest® MS event in New Jersey.  Below, he shares some of his tips for fundraising, getting people excited to participate, and having an all-around great time in the muck!

MuckFest MS: Why do you support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society?

Michael: I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2005 and I quickly realized how little my friends, family and I knew about the disease. Supporting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society brings awareness to the disease, raises money that hopefully leads to finding a cure, and helps people fighting the disease.

MuckFest MS: What made you decide to sign up for MuckFest MS New Jersey?

Michael: I had participated in MS fundraising activities but had not found one that piqued my interest beyond financially supporting the National MS Society. I had run in mud runs before, but not associated with Multiple Sclerosis, and had achieved a great deal of satisfaction from completing them. MuckFest MS came around at the perfect time for me because it gave me a platform to speak up about my disease in a competitive and fun arena. The sense of accomplishment was twofold – I got to fundraise for MS and compete in a challenging and fun mud run.

MuckFest MS New Jersey participants with mucky faces!

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Jen Hollandsworth, a 3-time MuckFest® MS St. Louis veteran and Team Captain of Wayne’s Warriors, has some words of wisdom to share with first time Muckers about why she originally got involved and how everyone can get the most out of their own mucky experience

Teamwork at MuckFest MS St. Louis.

MuckFest MS: What drew you to your first MuckFest MS event?

Jen: A friend of mine, Jackie Binz, got me started in the MuckFest MS runs. She thought I was the type of person who would get a kick out of it, and I have signed up every year since then. Plus, one of my original teammates, Phil Bruno, is really active with the MS Society and he powered through the race with us in honor of his wife who is battling MS. They were both big inspirations to me. Then, when I started fundraising, I realized how many people close to me are impacted by MS. I had no idea up to that point and have added to my Champions list every year because each person inspires me.

MuckFest MS St. Louis team in neon costume. Read More

Thank you, Philadelphia!

MuckFest_MS_Philadelphia_Festival_Area

It was mucking awesome!

Meet MuckFest® MS Philadelphia participant, Bill McCain. Bill is from Glassboro, NJ, where he is a Sergeant with his local Police Department. He and his wife, Trisha, have three boys, Billy, Brandon and Dylan. Bill was diagnosed with MS in 2010. This is Bill’s third MuckFest MS event with his team, “Dirty Cops.” In 2012, he was the top individual fundraiser for the event, and he was sixth overall in 2013. In 2013, Dirty Cops also made the Top 10 in all three fundraising categories: Individual fundraisers, largest teams, and top fundraising teams.

We’re so excited that Bill took some time to talk about MuckFest MS.

MuckFest MS: What made you initially decide to do MuckFest MS?

Bill McCain: In 2011, I went to a National Multiple Sclerosis Society meeting for the newly diagnosed. At the meeting, I learned of the event and was encouraged to participate. I was a bit skeptical at first, but it seemed like a great way to motivate myself to get off the couch and to get involved in the MS community.

MuckFest MS: Why do you support the National MS Society?

Bill McCain: In 2010, I suffered from Optic Neuritis and was diagnosed with MS. I was prescribed a disease modifying drug and the reality of MS suddenly became a part of my life.

MuckFest MS: What is your best tip for recruiting people to join your team?

Bill McCain: Word of mouth. You have to talk to people about MuckFest MS and what a blast it is. This is my team’s third year, and we can’t wait. In my experience, past teammates have by far been my best recruiters.

Team photo of Philadelphia participant at MuckFest MS. Read More

Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain: The Secret World of MuckFest® MS Obstacle Design

As muckers laugh, hoot and holler while taking on the MuckFest MS obstacles, little do they realize that these muck-tacular fun machines were born out of the mysterious underworld known as Obstacle Research and Development, which is also called OBSRESDEV by OCR design veterans who are, interestingly enough, not very good at coming up with acronyms. Now, for the first time in nearly a fiftieth of a century, the MuckFest MS Blog will take you head-first into the semi-dark and profoundly silly world of Obstacle R&D.

MuckFest MS Blog Obstacle Build Team 2

Due to secrecy concerns or a faulty GPS, we cannot tell you the exact location of the MuckFest MS Obstacle R&D facility, but we can tell you that it is in Southern California, and it is definitely not in Will Smith’s backyard. In the nerve center of this obstacle incubator/warehouse, we sit down at a work table across from one of the foremost obstacle course designers, a man who calls himself “Mike,” a very clever cover name to hide his real identity, no doubt.

Tell us about Big Balls.

Well, I don’t mean to brag, but…

We mean the obstacle Big Balls. The huge balls suspended by cranes, swinging over muddy pits. It’s described on the website as “One big swinging pair is never enough.”

Ah yes, Big Balls is one of the best for spectators and it’s a runner favorite, but it took a while to perfect.

Tell us about it.

In the early tests, the Big Balls were too light, like annoying, gigantic beach balls. But you can’t make them too heavy either or else you’ll be launching runners into the stratosphere. After a few tries, we got it right. I guess you could say we have the Goldilocks of Big Balls, not too heavy, not too light, but just right to knock you into the muddy pit.

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Increase your cool factor with your kids, nieces, nephews, and grandkids by taking them to their very own Lil’ Muckers Area at MuckFest MS! Here, it’s okay for them to play in the mud!

MuckFest MS Lil' Muckers Area for Kids and Children.

You can meet other obstacles here: Swing Set, Mt. Muck-imanjaro, and Big Balls!