By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Mary Finn School physical education teacher Tom McCabe and Trottier Middle School physical education teacher Steve Felo have been friends and colleagues for the past 11 years. McCabe takes a personal interest in his young students, helping them to develop the skills, knowledge and desire to enjoy a lifetime of physical activity. At Trottier, Felo does the same. McCabe and Felo have enjoyed getting to know their students, watching them grow and mature as they make their way from Finn to Woodward to Neary and on to Trottier.
Over the years, McCabe said, there are students who leave a lasting impression. Maddie Collins, now a freshman at Algonquin Regional High School, is one of these students.
In September, Collins was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), a cancer that starts inside the bone marrow. She required five months of treatment at Children's Hospital in Boston.
“Maddie is just a great kid,” McCabe said. “I can vividly remember her all the way back in kindergarten and first grade.?She was the nicest kid, but she was tremendously competitive.? Steve says she was that way at Trottier as well and from what I hear, she hasn's changed.?Both Steve and I were inspired by Maddie's courage.?No one should have to go through that fight, especially a child.”
After hearing about Collins” diagnosis, the teaching twosome knew that they wanted to help. They decided to practice what they preach and take on a physical challenge outside of the school gymnasium. The pair will be participating in the “Tough Mudder,” a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test the participants” all-around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. The course includes hills, mud, water, ropes, walls, electric shocks and fire designed to push competitors to their limit.
McCabe and Felo, who want to do their part to raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society (LLS), are calling their efforts the “Mudder 4 Maddie.”
“It should be interesting, fun, and, hopefully, injury free,” McCabe quipped. “It's hard to train for a lot of the obstacles we might encounter during the race.?We plan to do a lot of running to build our endurance and then focus a lot on core and grip strength for many of the other challenges.? Being physical education teachers, we have the advantage of having access to some old staples for strength building – rope climbs, cargo nets, and monkey bars.?So basically, to train for the “Tough Mudder,” we have to train like one of our students – ?go figure.”
Both teachers have been in this fight against cancer for a long time.
“We’ve lost family, friends, and colleagues to the disease and have had other family, friends, colleagues and students conquer it.?You feel so helpless when you hear about people going through times like this, and you want to do whatever you can,” McCabe said. “Steve and I are just doing a small part to help.?We’re very humbled to be able to support Maddie and to help raise money for the LLS. We’re just competing in a crazy race to raise awareness and, hopefully, prove that we’re at least half as “tough” as Maddie.”
And recently, another Trottier teacher, Dan Shine, signed on to participate as well.
The Tough Mudder will take place at Gunstock Mountain in New Hampshire Saturday, June 1.
To donate to the men's “Mudder 4 Maddie” team, send a check, payable to Thomas McCabe (add “Mudder 4 Maddie” in the memo section), and mail to: Tom McCabe, 53 Trowbridge Ln., Shrewsbury, MA 01545.