FRANKLIN (Somerset) — The eighth year of the MuckFest MS New Jersey race is another opportunity for residents to get down and dirty for a cause, in this case spreading awareness about multiple sclerosis and continuing to raise money for a cure.

For all eight years, Whippany resident Mike Furey, who was diagnosed with MS in 2006, has served as captain of his own team in the fun mud run, appropriately named Filth and Furey.

"It's more than just a race for me, specifically as somebody who battles this disease," Furey said. "It's something that really provides me an identity to push and get the word out there about MS."

In those first years after his diagnosis, Furey was bogged down by all the negatives associated with MS, the symptoms of which are not always outwardly, like fatigue, numbness, and other nonvisual effects.

The MuckFest, which isn't a competition per se but does include 18 obstacles, provided a multifaceted outlet with a challenging degree of difficulty.

"It allowed me to apply something positive and fun to something that really scared me, and was affecting me both physically and mentally," Furey said. "It helped me identify as someone who was going to battle the disease the rest of my life until they find the cure."

Although the run has helped Furey and others find new ways to work toward a cure, that cure has not yet come despite significant progress and a nationwide total of $29 million raised so far. Part of that is $82,000 raised in past years by Filth and Furey's supporters, and more than $11,000 already for the 2018 event.

All money raised goes to the National MS Society, whose mission is to stop the disease in its tracks, restore what has been lost, and end MS forever.

The 2018 MuckFest MS New Jersey will be at the Zarephath Christian Church, in the Somerset section of Franklin, at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 21. No athletic training or ability is required to participate. Through Wednesday, Furey said the promotional code GARDENSTATE takes $20 off the price of entry for online registrants. Spectators may attend for free.

Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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