Mud Sweat and Cheers

A shot from last year’s Mud, Sweat and Cheers competition, which normally features first responders competing. 

It’s that time of year again. Mud, Sweat and Cheers 7 is one of Ithaca’s most revered events, held in honor of one of Ithaca’s most beloved young men, and it will take place next Saturday, April 27.  

Terry Ciaschi, the facilities director at Island Health & Fitness, has been the driving force behind the event since its inception, and the cause is dear to his heart. Not only is he lifelong friends with Carol and Tim Bordoni, whose son, Chris, passed on in 2012 while serving as a U.S. Marine, Terry’s son Dominic is a Marine as well.  

The Bordoni 5K and 5K Extreme Fitness Challenge will start off at Island H&F at 8:30 a.m., and it will involve a seven-station obstacle course. Each station will feature two or three challenges (like Rapid Descent, Rope Burn and Hellish Hill), and as always, the support from local athletes and coaches runs deep and wide.

“This year, we have the entire Cornell Sprint Football team coming and the wrestling teams from both hills (Cornell University and Ithaca College) will compete again, as they have from the beginning,” Ciaschi said. “I.C.’s women’s basketball program sent three teams, the rugby team is in. Plus, we have a lot of police officers, firefighters and first responders competing.”

I have to hand it to Terry for working his publicity channels and personal and professional networks to grow this event into something so big and impactful. Many different charities have benefitted, including B.O.S.S. (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers), Saratoga War Horse and the Chris Bordoni Scholarship Fund.

Money raised has also been funneled into the Bordoni Trailhead (at the Cayuga Waterfront Trail), and that ever-expanding project has celebrated Chris’ life by offering fitness challenges for visitors. Terry offered, “I try to stay in contact with Carol and Tim and get their input about how to use the money and organize the event.” He said, “Given it’s an obstacle course and not just a run, there is a lot more involved in the planning and operation.”

Ciaschi also gave a shout out to IH&F employee Dillon Shaffer, a former Army officer who just ran in the elite division of the Boston Marathon, procured a lot of sponsors and donated the money to the Bordoni Scholarship Fund. He also thanked Major Sponsors Cayuga Medical Center, Maguire Family of Dealerships, Chemung Canal, Tompkins Trust and Bang’s Ambulance.

I asked Terry if his enthusiasm level was as high as it was in the beginning.

“Yes. I think it’s important to give our thanks and credit to the police officers, firefighters and first responders. There is always enough press when something negative happens, but these people do a lot for all of us.”

For information on how to get involved, provide needed support or to donate, please go to


Every year, I try to find an inspiring personal story related to Mud, Sweat and Cheers, and my buddy Kevin English is this year’s story.

Kevin and I go back 30 years as fellow media guys, but our friendship really solidified as softball dads, driving our daughters to practices, venturing far and wide to those grueling (but fulfilling) travel team tournaments, and sitting outside in all manner of precipitation to cheer on our girls and their teammates. We laughed about our old adage, “The older I get, the more awesome I was,” and we talked about returning to our former glory. Then, we would laugh and have another slice of pizza.

Apparently, Kevin had enough of living on “Someday Isle”—you know, “Someday I’ll do this,” or “Someday I’ll do that”—and he, at age 61, reinvented himself.

“In January of 2018, I had enjoyed the treats of Christmas vacation way too much,” Kevin told me. “My attempts at exercise and better nutrition weren’t working, so I started the process of getting ready for surgery. I had the procedure in July of last year, and here I am, 100 pounds lighter. I don’t get so tired, I am off some of my medications, and it has opened doors that have not been open in a long time.”

His self-respect clearly enhanced, he added, “I feel like I got a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card.”  

As the father of a young man in law enforcement, English is pleased to be a part of Mud, Sweat and Cheers. He said, “The station (ESPN Ithaca/Vizella Media, his employer) has been involved since the inception. We are entering a team, and I can’t believe I’m in a position to be a part of it. My father and brother served in the military, so this is my kind of environment.”

Addressing his personal reinvention, Kevin said, “It was such a negative cycle. I was overweight, and that was depressing, and that led to me being more overweight. Now, I can look forward. I hope to retire someday, and be able to golf, and hike, and bike.”

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