Often when people hear of the Challenge Walk MS Cape Cod, they'll respond, "50 miles, no way!" or "$1,500 fundraising minimum, impossible!" It is refreshing to come across women who feel exactly the opposite. You say, "jump" they say, "how high?" Well in this case, you say, "walk" and they say, "how far?"
Longtime friends and teammates Carley Murray and Marisa Austin have been participating in Challenge Walk MS over the course of years. Coming back to the Cape Cod rail trails faster, stronger, and always more determined.
Carley's introduction was somewhat unexpected. As a grad student, she reached out to her study buddy hoping for some company hitting the books. It turned out, Katie was busy training for Challenge Walk MS. Being resourceful, Carley decided to study on the go, becoming Katie's training partner and soon her teammate at the Challenge Walk MS Cape Cod. Carley is connected to MS in a multitude of ways, as is often the case, and it has been fueling her participation for years and her motivation to fundraise.
Marisa could be considered a fresh face in the Challenge Walk MS mix. She'll be embarking on her second Challenge Walk MS experience alongside Carley. After a close friend of hers was diagnosed, she asked the question I feel we have all been tasked with, "What can I do?" Her answer was countless miles, a couple of September weekends, and as of today, fundraising over $7,000! Not only a Challenge Walk MS participant, Marisa has participated as a MuckFest MS volunteer and a Walk MS participant in West Hartford, CT.
When asked why they participate, the answer was simple, "Why not?" As skilled, healthy women they feel grateful for their ability to walk 50 miles and at times, challenging themselves to do it the fastest!
While training, Carley inadvertently became a half marathon runner, completing over ten half-marathons since beginning her Challenge Walk MS journey. Carley describes her Challenge Walk MS participation as taking her skill sets and putting them to good use. Not only is it paying it forward, but maximizing her time and potential for the betterment of her community, whether that is MS, the board for the local animal shelter, or advocacy for other organizations.
Similarly, Marisa has gone the extra mile. She has worked hard to balance an intensive career and diligent training regimens, pushing through the pain and her physical limits. On top of her hard work, she offers her community exciting fundraising experiences. Both Carley and Marisa host bar events and Yankee ticket raffles, consistently engaging their friends and family year after year.
They have described the Challenge Walk MS finish on Cape Cod, just as moving as it is surprising. To think they have walked alongside people who are in fact living with MS, but cease to waver mile after mile. It is inspiration they need to continue training, fundraising, and walking to make a difference in the lives of those living with MS. The motivation goes beyond their personal connections, but for all the friends they have made at Challenge Walk MS along the way.