This evening, many of the Iditarod volunteers gathered together and enjoyed a potluck-style dinner to celebrate another successful race year. Volunteers- comms, logistics, IAF pilots, veterinarians, trail guards, dog handlers, teachers, and more- sat and shared trail-tales that made you laugh, smile, and wish to be back on the trail.
Pete Kaiser, 2019 Iditarod Champion, called in from Bethel to show his appreciation for all of the volunteers. He commented on the incredible amount of work that they do and even said that reporters should be writing more about the volunteers and not the mushers.
After hearing from Pete, Jeff Schultz, the Official Photographer of the Iditarod, presented a slideshow of amazing photos from this year’s race. Later, Anna Berington, Kristy Berington, and Jessie Royer each expressed their gratitude to the volunteers and shared some stories from the trail.
Having the opportunity to travel along the trail this year has been unbelievably enriching for many reasons. One of the greatest things has been building relationships with all of the volunteers. While I’ve always known the volunteers were important for the race, being able see firsthand how many volunteers there are, and how much work they do, has shown me how integral they truly are. There is no doubt that the dogs are number one because if it weren’t for them, there wouldn’t be a race; however, it is also evident that the Iditarod would not function without all of its volunteers.
***Teachers*** Thousands of people have volunteered for the Iditarod over the course of its history. Discuss volunteerism with your students. Look into opportunities that would allow you and your students to volunteer. Perhaps you can contribute to your local animal shelter. Or, maybe you can start a volunteer initiative in your school. Either way, having students learn about volunteerism and then volunteering themselves will help them develop into compassionate citizens.