Throughout Tracey LaGrassa’s life, running has been a constant. “It’s always something I enjoyed doing,” she said. “I’ve run many Falmouth Road Races, Cape Cod Half Marathons, the ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon… I’ve always been active my whole life.”
So it came as no surprise that when her colleagues at the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office decided to form a Ruck4HIT team in 2017, Tracey would be on it.
She ran again in 2018, but when she started training for last year’s race, she noticed something wasn’t right physically so she went to her doctor.
In January of 2019, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“Even though I got diagnosed and could barely walk, I asked my doctor, ‘Can I do it?’ and he said, ‘You must be out of your mind,’” Tracey said. “It was a hard hit for me because it was something I always enjoyed doing and being involved in.”
Suddenly, a significant piece of Tracey’s identity was taken from her. “Running is part of who I am,” she said. “I love to run and I love to run for fundraisers and good causes. It was quite upsetting to me.”
Despite the setback, Tracey wasn’t going to waver in her commitment to Heroes In Transition. This year, she joined the Ruck4HIT Organizing Committee and was planning to drive for the Sheriff’s Office for the Ruck4HIT in May before COVID struck.
For this weekend’s Not Your Ordinary Ruck4HIT Challenge, you won’t find Tracey running, but she will be competing in a new way – on her bike – as she helps log miles with her teammates, some of whom will be rucking and others who will be biking.
Along with the friendships she has formed through Heroes, Tracey said, she’s been drawn to the organization because of how it is able to help. “A lot of people don’t really know about PTSD and what veterans go through after they’ve served,” she said. “This event raises a lot of awareness to these issues and Heroes does so much good for those that are in need. I love being a part of that and making a difference.”
And while she was eager to return to the Ruck4HIT in any way this year, she was elated that she will be able to physically participate in this weekend’s challenge. “I’m really excited that COVID isn’t going to stand in the way of this,” she said. “And I’m really excited we have a team and people that aren’t just runners are able to participate. It is kind of exciting.”
What will motivate her this weekend is what has motivated her since she received her MS diagnosis last year. “Every day is a new day and you just have to keep a positive outlook on life,” she said. “There are people who are way worse off with other diseases. And with the heroes we have lost, those people aren’t here today. I consider myself lucky whether I have a disease or not.”