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Mucking in mud for MS

Jessica Smith
jsmith@skyhidailynews.com
Sam Adame works on constructing a kids' play area for the MS Muck Ruckus on Thursday morning at Grand Park in Fraser. The event is expected to draw 900 competitors and will start on Saturday at 10 a.m. Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News | Sky-Hi News

What do you get when you mix mud, a crazy obstacle course, and dedicated fundraisers together? A day of unforgettable fun, and the chance to do your part toward finding a cure for a serious disease.

The race

MuckRuckus MS is a mud run event designed to raise money for the National MS Society to help fight and find a cure for multiple sclerosis. This year’s Colorado race takes place on Saturday, Aug. 4, at Grand Park (next to the Fraser Valley Recreation Center), in Fraser.

MuckRuckus MS consists of two courses, a 5-mile course, and a 5K (3.1 miles) short course. Unlike regular races, these courses present a series of challenging obstacles that participants must conquer in order to continue onward.

These obstacles include tight ropes over mud pits, sliding down fireman poles, climbing up and over giant cargo nets, and even more mud pits. Often, obstacles are given names, which describe (“Walk On Water”), inspire (“Fun To Be A Fireman”), joke (“Big Balls”) and excite/terrify (“Oh Crap”).

The race can be run individually or in teams, competitively or recreationally. Before the event, both teams and individuals work to raise money to benefit the National MS Society.

The man

No one better embodies the spirit of supporting and raising money for MS than Charlie Stiffler, whose family has struggled with this disease for years.

In 1991, when he was 5 years old, his mother was diagnosed with MS.

“That year, we walked for the first time,” he said, referring to the Walk MS event. Since then, he has participated in every Walk MS and/or Bike MS each year since.

Inspired to help people, Stiffler went on to work in clinical education, fire fighting, and is currently employed as an emergency medical technician with Rural/Metro Pridemark. He also works for the MS Society part-time, and volunteers for Bike MS and MuckRuckus MS.

When Stiffler himself began to experience muscle tremors and short term memory problems, he recognized the symptoms of MS. In 2009 at the age of 23, he was diagnosed with the disease.

This has only strengthened his resolve, however, and his efforts to raise awareness of MS and the need for a cure. His support and work with the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National MS Society continues, including Saturday’s upcoming MuckRuckus MS event.

Stiffler is the Uniform Services Engagement Coordinator, meaning he is in charge of recruiting police, fire, paramedics and military to participate. The more participants, the more money raised for combating MS. He will also be present at the event as part of the on-site medical crew.

“Hopefully with this money, we can put an end to this disease,” Stiffler said.

The results

MuckRuckus MS is one way to meet that goal, while at the same time bringing people together to have a good time. The race, re-branded just this year (changing its name from “The Mud Run”), is already a hit. Participation numbers have doubled from 450 participants last year up to over 900 for Saturday’s event.

Fundraising events are ongoing, with the goal of hitting over $250,000 in donations. The money goes toward MS research, and MS-based programs and services throughout Colorado.

In the end, the numbers will speak for themselves.

“Our goal is to attract more people to the MS movement,” said Kristin Gibbs, vice president of development of the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National MS Society. “Hopefully they’ll come, have a good time, and bring their friends back in 2013.”

Charlie Stiffler agrees. “A successful event is everyone participates and has fun, no one gets injured, and we raise a bunch of money for MS.”

Online

‰ For more information, visit the National MS Society website at http://www.nationalmssociety.org


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