Ona is a Tough Mudder

Three cheers for MDF board-member Ona McConnell and her Yale Women’s Field Hockey teammates Maddy Sharp and Jessie Accurso for their awesome performance in the Tough Mudder Challenge. The May 13 event was the latest accomplishment in their ongoing mission to raise money for myotonic dystrophy research.

In true Mudder spirit, the three young women ran 12 rocky miles, endured a heart-stopping ice-water plunge, and scrambled through “way too much” barbed wire – all with the letters MDF proudly emblazoned on their bare stomachs.

“I was incredibly nervous,” admits Ona, who was diagnosed with DM in 2010. “My main worry was that I wasn’t going to be able to finish. I had a harder time running uphill, so Maddy and Jessie had to hold up a few times. My muscles would cramp and I’d have to take a break to let them relax.” Nonetheless, the teammates maintained a steady clip throughout. “We think we were one of the first groups in our starting time to finish,” Ona adds proudly.

The Tough Mudder Challenge was originally created in support of the Wounded Warrior Project that helps returning veterans. The event places high value on mental dedication, camaraderie and team effort; some of the obstacles are nearly impossible to overcome without help. “It was incredible running alongside people of all different ages and levels of fitness, especially men and women who had served in the armed forces and were amputees or had prosthetics,” says Maddy. “Experiencing firsthand the level of teamwork through these events—strangers helping strangers—was awesome.” 

Ona, Maddy and Jessie were as relentless in their fundraising as they were in their physical training. “We raised over $1900 for MDF, which is a lot for just three people,” says Ona. She adds that most of the donations came in small amounts so the total sum represents the backing of hundreds of supporters. (It’s not too late to celebrate Ona, Maddy and Jessie’s success with a contribution. Donate now)

Would the women do it again? You betcha! But, for now the three are focusing on their summer activities, which include jobs, summer school and field hockey coaching.  Soon enough they’ll be back at college preparing for the next big challenge--the Get-a-Grip campaign organized by the Yale Women’s Field Hockey Team every year in support of DM awareness. Get-A-Grip homepage.