Mashpee Resident Completes Tough Mudder In Honor Of Friend

Mashpee resident Rachel DeFrancisco Connolly competed in her third Tough Mudder event recently. Her team fundraised for her friend, fellow Mashpee resident Laura Franks, who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.LANNAN M. O'BRIEN/ENTERPRISE - Mashpee resident Rachel DeFrancisco Connolly competed in her third Tough Mudder event recently. Her team fundraised for her friend, fellow Mashpee resident Laura Franks, who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

On Saturday, August 23, Rachel Connolly crawled through mud, walked the plank, and slid through fire for a friend in need. The 39-year-old Mashpee resident and mother of three, along with a team called Laura’s Brawlers, competed in her third Tough Mudder obstacle course in honor of Laura Franks, a fellow resident who was diagnosed this summer with an acute, aggressive form of multiple sclerosis.

In conjunction with the obstacle course, the team of three comprising Ms. Connolly’s brother and his friends raised $450 on gofundme.com for Ms. Franks’s medical bills and anything else she and her family may need.

“She was just so touched that we were doing this difficult race in her honor,” Ms. Connolly said, adding that she wished they were able to raise more money.

Although the group trained separately, she said that they immediately meshed well when they gathered as a team in Maine and were even joined by five more individuals before the start of the race. Together, they supported each other through the 10- to 12-mile course, testing their endurance as they ran, swam, climbed three-meter wooden walls, swung from monkey bars, and jumped from a 12-foot-high plank into a muddy water pit.

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“Strangers help strangers,” Ms. Connolly said of the sense of camaraderie among Tough Mudder participants. “Everyone there is extremely helpful and friendly.”

Outside of caring for her children and working as a preschool teacher at Mashpee Creative Children’s Center, Ms. Connolly found time to train for the race at Work Out World gym in Mashpee. She said that her friends and family, including her children—ages 4, 9, and 11 years old—have been supportive of her participation in Tough Mudder, and her oldest daughter even sent her a text to tell her how proud she felt before the most recent event started.

Even during the race, Ms. Connolly said that she thought of Ms. Franks. Her brother encouraged her in moments when she struggled to continue on the course, and on mile eight or nine, he said, “Think of Laura, think of Laura in her wheelchair.”

So she did, and the thought boosted her strength until she crossed the finish line.

When asked what it feel like to complete the course, Ms. Connolly said, “You feel like you can do anything.”

Throughout hardships and stressful times in her life, she said, that feeling of accomplishment continuously reminds her that she can—quite literally—overcome any obstacle.

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