Tough Mudder Team Raises $1,400 for Avielle Foundation

Westover's 2018 Tough Mudder Team (from left): Rasin Center Director Kate Taylor, Elizabeth Cook '19, Maddie-Claire Norris '19, Sophia Andrew '19, Maddie Hurtgen '18, Patricia Collins '17, Katy Hunter '20, Sarah Pino '20, Abby Hodson '17, and Sophia Hodson '15

Tough Mudder Team Raises $1,400 for Avielle Foundation

For the third year in a row, a team of Westover students, alumnae, and faculty took on the challenges of a Tough Mudder to raise funds for the Avielle Foundation. This year's obstacle-laden event, the Tough Mudder Boston, was held on Saturday, June 23, in Charlton, Massachusetts.

"Our Westover team was a part of a larger team called Mud for Brains, which was raising funds for the Avielle Foundation," said Sophia Andrew '18. The mission of the Avielle Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Newtown, is to prevent violence and build compassion by supporting neuroscience research and encouraging community engagement and education initiatives to support brain health. It was founded by Jeremy Richman, Ph.D., and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, M.S., after their daughter, Avielle, and 25 other children and educators were tragically murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

"This year was especially inspirational," Sophia noted, "because as the whole Mud for Brains team was sitting together in the starting gate with our matching green, black, and orange shirts, Jeremy was asked to stand up and explain the mission of the Avielle Foundation and why he founded it. That moment silenced the whole crowd. I think it gave the whole team hope, because it meant that people were listening to Jeremy and his mission. Perhaps his little speech will bring a tiny bit more change in our world. Speaking for myself, I felt proud to be wearing our team shirt."

In addition to Sophia, the Westover team included another recent graduate, Maddie Hurtgen '18, along with students Elizabeth Cook '19, Maddie-Claire Norris '19, Sarah Pino '20, and Katy Hunter '20; alumnae Sophia Hodson '15, Abby Hodson '17, and Patricia Collins '17; and Rasin Center Director Kate Taylor. Westover's team raised $1,400 for the Avielle Foundation, $400 above its goal.

"Surprisingly," Sophia said, "the day turned out to be a little bit chilly, because we found ourselves getting soaked off and on and jumping into ice baths. By the end of the race, everyone felt as if they were wet in the middle of winter. However, we all pushed through and, once again, it was such a fun experience."

"Some of the obstacles along the course did give us challenges," Sophia said, "such as Everest 2.0, a half pipe that you are supposed to run up as the 'stronger' members of the team grasp your arm and try to pull you up as they hang down. However," she added with a laugh, "if you are me, you completely 'face plant.' But it's the support afterwards that allows you to blow off the 'major fail' that you just had in front of a bunch of people."

Sophia also enjoyed the spirit of camaraderie and motivation that fills Tough Mudder events. "Everyone is high fiving and giving words of encouragement no matter which team they are on," she said. "Yes, some of the obstacles are challenging, but it pushes your limits and that's what makes you more mentally and physically strong. And then there are some obstacles that you fly right through and that's what boosts your confidence. Overall, a Tough Mudder is an experience to grow."

For Sophia, "the most memorable part is crossing the finish line together. I remember all of us headed down the steep hill with big smiles on our faces as we headed under the finish line. A relieving – but awesome – moment!"

Five members of Westover's 2018 Tough Mudder team celebrate after completing the course (from left): Sophia Andrew '19, Maddie Hurtgen '18, Sarah Pino '20, Katy Hunter '20, and Maddie-Claire Norris '19.