Through the Mud, Toward a Cure

June 24, 2013 3:14 am0 commentsViews: 56
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Muck-1MuckFest Philly MS is an annual event in which thousands of men and women of all ages strive to complete a muddy 5 mile course featuring two dozen diabolical obstacles with names like Big Balls, Spider Web and Oh Crap! This year’s MuckFest, which took place on June 8 & 9 at the Ellis Nature Preserve in Newtown Square, was by far the muckiest in years. On Friday June 7, Tropical Storm Andrea had drenched the already watered-down preserve with nearly three inches of rain, turning ordinary mud into a sea of clay deep enough to suck the sneakers right off the feet of many runners.

Undaunted, over 6000 runners turned out to brave the goo. For many, including Dean Day of Levittown, the event held a personal meaning that transcended the weather and the condition of the course.

In 2009 Dean’s wife Dawn was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease that affects the brain, nerves and spinal cord, leading to a variety of physical and mental difficulties. Two thirds of those afflicted by MS are women; there is no known cure.

100% of the money raised by the MuckFest events, which are held across the United States, goes to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, helping it fund vital research toward a cure as well as provide needed programs and services to people living with MS.

Dean’s team of 30 runners, named Down & Dirty for Dawn, included his 16 year old daughter Allysa. For Dean, Allysa and many of those who ran, slipped, slid, crawled, climbed and splashed their way through, MuckFest is a way to fight back and, they hope, make a difference for their loved ones and for strangers who are similarly stricken.

The final challenge of the day was to scuttle on one’s belly through a steel tunnel slick with mud. After the last members of the Down & Dirty team had staggered smiling across the finish line and moved on to enjoy free food, beer and live music, Dean reflected on the day’s effort. “This was by far the most muddy year,” he said. “I thought I was definitely losing a shoe.” The Down & Dirty team had raised $6,160 for the cause.

Another runner, Deion Dallas, spoke for many. “This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “To know that those who live with MS every day deal with this kind of pain…Wow…I can’t wait til next year to do it all again.”