Ava O’Brien to tackle obstacles for MS May 18

May 9, 2019 by

Published May 8, 2019


LYNNFIELD — Lynnfield High School sophomore Ava O’Brien is not letting multiple sclerosis slow her down. In fact, Ava’s diagnosis is leading her to new heights.

Ava and a group of family and friends are gearing up to compete in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MuckFest Boston 5K on Saturday, May 18 at the Willard Athletic Complex in Devens.

“Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body,” Ava wrote on her personal fundraising page for the National MS Society. “I’m conquering mud and obstacles in support of the National MS Society and their mission to end MS. It’s going to be a blast.”

Leah O’Brien, Ava’s mother, agreed.

“MuckFest Boston is a mud and obstacle 5K run series designed by special effects and event production specialists from Hollywood, with donations raised going to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society,” said Leah in an email sent to the Villager. “It was Ava’s idea to gather a team of family and friends to do the race. We weren’t anticipating that we’d be one of the largest teams for the Boston race. We’ve been fundraising for several months and at this point, the team has raised $15,850.”


Leah said Ava’s team is “made up of many family members and friends” including local mom Krista Kane, who also has MS.

“The team wants to help Ava in her quest to raise awareness that kids get MS too,” said Leah.

Leah noted Ava was diagnosed with MS at the age of 14 last June.

“She started to experience numbness in her shin that began to spread to her whole leg,” said Leah. “After an MRI at Boston Children’s Hospital, it was determined that Ava has relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. It is estimated that only 8,000 to 10,000 children under the age of 18 in the U.S. have MS.”

Ava said that, “MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.”

“MS impacts each individual differently,” Ava stated. “Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. There is no cure for MS.”

Since Ava was diagnosed with MS, Leah said her daughter has continued playing field hockey and girls’ lacrosse at LHS. Leah said the town “has been supportive in so many ways.”

“The field hockey team held a special practice on Sept. 19, 2018 at the Lynnfield Middle School track to raise money for the National MS Society,” said Leah. “In addition, the team, coaches and parents all showed support in many different ways. Currently, the girls’ lacrosse team at LHS is planning an alumni game as an MS fundraiser in June as well. Ava is the JV goalie for the girls’ lacrosse team.”

Leah also said their neighborhood, Perry Avenue, has provided an “enormous” amount of support to the family.

“There have been constant check-ins to see how she is doing, keeping an eye out for her, sending food upon diagnosis and even helping take some of the landscaping chores off our plate,” said Leah. “So many other people throughout the town and through the Tower Day School community sent notes of encouragement to her and reached out in ways we will never forget.”

In addition to MuckFest, the field hockey team’s fundraiser and the girls’ lacrosse team’s upcoming fundraiser, Leah said Ava has held bake sales at LHS as part of a fundraising initiative. She also set up a table at the high school’s Wellness Fair last month in order to raise awareness.

If residents would like to donate to Ava’s MuckFest team, they should visit http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/toughmuddermuckers.

“One hundred percent of your donation benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and takes us one step closer to a world free of MS,” Ava stated.

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