By Gina Ross Murdoch, MSAA President & CEO
Recently, MSAA embarked on a new initiative of endurance events including the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, Tough Mudder Race Series, and the Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna®. This was an opportunity for us to engage people across the country in our mission to support the entire MS community. Wanting to jump in and be part of this important effort, I signed up for my third half marathon at Disney World.
Team MSAA-Disney included fourteen runners participating in the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and, for two overachievers, all four consecutively! I selected the half marathon which is 13.1 miles. Training for the 13.1 mile half marathon is a grueling process that takes dedication and stamina. However, living with the uncertainty and challenges of multiple sclerosis is much more difficult than training for any endurance event. As one of the participants, I sent out my fundraising emails and received some wonderful donations. I was proud to be a full member of Team MSAA.
As my inspiration, I reached out to board members, volunteers and friends across the country to add their name to my running singlet.
Race weekend – let’s do this!
We begin at a very, very cold start with 60,000 Disney runners including 13 Team MSAA members.
The fireworks explode and we are on our way! Throughout the run, I see elite athletes running easily and I see others digging down deep to finish this challenge.
I reach the 7 mile mark and I am tired. I grab a drink and look down at my singlet and see the names of so many who are tired every day and not just this one day. I think about their stories of their diagnosis, their journey, their challenges and they inspire me to continue on in their honor. As you can see in the photo below, those living with multiple sclerosis, those caring for a loved one living with multiple sclerosis, the entire medical community that has dedicated their lives to research and care, propelled me through the next 6.1 miles and I cross the finish line!!
On Sunday, I am cheering for Team MSAA members Bekah, Rachael, and Michelle who are participating in the full marathon. Bekah and Rachel are completing the Dopey Challenge which consists of a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon over the four days of the event. They run in honor of their father, Dan, who lives with multiple sclerosis.
I received texts along the way as they cross milestones of 5K, 10K, 20K, 23 miles, and come ever closer to that 26.2 mile marathon finish line. I received the final text that all three runners have now completed the run and are receiving their well-deserved medals. The amazing thing is that Bekah, Rachael, Michelle and the entire team were thankful to have the opportunity to participate in this event and support our mission. It is the members of the MSAA staff who are honored and humbled by their efforts over so many months to physically train, mentally prepare, and financially support our mission. I could not be prouder of my fellow Team MSAA members who participated in everything from the 5K to the Dopey Challenge. You are inspiring, amazing, and incredible people!!