Monday, September 1, 2014

Tough Mudder tears into Sunset Ridge Golf Links - By Tracy Scheckel

Many folks, myself included, can’t help but ask, “Why would anyone subject themselves to the rigors of a Tough Mudder?” I asked just that of one of my friends who participated in the Northeast Tough Mudder held in Westbrook this past Saturday.
Matt Doughty, 39, a husband, a father of three, a Gray Town Councilor, and the Maine Gas Operations Manager for Unitil, is a pretty busy guy. When I asked him about doing the Tough Mudder held in Westbrook this past weekend, his response; “I’m doing it because of Ray, you do know the Ray Poulin story, right?” Then Matt proceeded to fill me in on an incredible journey that Poulin made from the brink of death to competing in the mudder. Doughty explained, “If Ray could overcome what he did to participate in the event, how could I not be inspired to join him?”
Ray is 40 years old, married with two children Hailey age 9 and Samantha 7; and he is the General Manager of the Best Buy in Topsham. In April of 2013, Ray developed sepsis, a serious blood infection. His liver and kidneys shut down requiring multiple surgeries and an induced coma. Doctors informed his family that he had a 10 percent chance of recovery when his liver began to hemorrhage and required a mass blood transfusion of 77 units of a combination of red blood cells, platelets, fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate. To help with his medical costs, the Team Ray Fund was founded by Ray’s best friend, Shaun Morrison. As Ray explained, “It was the most difficult gift he has ever received.” 

After 32 days in the hospital, Ray beat the odds and went on to two weeks of rehabilitation therapy. His life and lifestyle were to change forever. Ray’s health ordeal taught him two very important things, the benefit of working and eating to stay fit, and the importance of donating blood.
Once all the medical bills were paid, Ray and his wife Nikki decided to pay it forward with the little remaining in the the Team Ray Fund, Ray and founded RaysUp dedicated to creating awareness about the importance of blood donation.

About four months before the event, Ray heard about the Tough Mudder. His brush with death the previous year, and his desire to be as healthy as possible for his family inspired him to train for the event. His friend Shaun decided to join the effort.

In addition to his training regimen of running, Ray spent a lot of time on the Tough Mudder Facebook page to learn about how other folks trained and achieved success when participating in the event.
After reading one of Ray’s Facebook posts about his medical ordeal and goal to complete the course, officials at Tough Mudder contacted Ray to learn more about his story. The folks at Tough Mudder decided to use Ray’s story to inspire others. Serendipitously, awareness of RaysUp increased, and according to Ray, it was his team who made the decision to compete in the name of RaysUp to further promote the organization.

Ray and his team had diverse physical abilities and all trained in different ways for the event. Ray had not even met three of the team members, who were recruited by Shaun, until a month before the event, when he met Matt Millard and Laura DeVaudreuil. He didn’t meet Jeff Matthews until a spaghetti dinner on the Friday night before the mudder. Ray explained, “Everyone brought different strengths and skills to the team, and we all did our own thing to train, but we all shared the same mantra; our mission from day one was to cross the finish line together as a team.” And that they did. On Saturday the group met about 8:30 a.m. to warm up and stretch. They began the course at 10 a.m. and finished together arm in arm at 2:30 p.m.
Regarding his team, Ray offered, “A big thank you to all of you for putting the team first and contributing to our goal of crossing the finish line together. I couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement of the people around me,” he continued, “I’d also like to thank Sevee & Maher Engineers Inc, Innovations Salon & Spa , Cynthia Veroneau Portside Real Estate Group, and Gray Country Day Care & Learning Center Inc. for their financial contributions to buy our team shirts.”

Will there be another mudder in Ray’s future? Perhaps. He is also hoping to work with the Tough Mudder organization to facilitate blood drives at future events. To date, he has conducted one drive at the Maine Wildlife Park and collected 44 pints. Plans for the next drive in Westbrook are in the works. For more information visit RaysUp at or and Tough Mudder, at

Photos Courtesy of Ray Poulin
The RaysUp Team: Back Row L to R: John Conley, Shaun Morrison, Ben Cyr, Jeff Matthews, Eric Deschaines, Matt Doughty, Ray Poulin Front Row L to R: Amy Conley (John's wife), Gerry Brown, Laura DeVaudreuil, Matt Milliard

Ray’s Pouiln’s favorite photo; Team RaysUp builds a human pyramid – but one of the 20 obstacles and challenges at the Northeast Tough Mudder held in Westbrook last weekend.

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