We LOVE to get letters and correspondence from our young fans. (We enjoy our older fans as well, but you are currently not the topic of conversation!) There are many schools across the country that have ‘Iditarod Curriculums’ ~ thus we receive a multitude of letters, small gifts and cards. It is amazing to read the notes of encouragement or essays explaining a child’s passion or hobby or simply a drawing of their dog.

I have told this story before:
I had been racing Iditarod for several years and had placed well into the top 20. But in 2004, my race was poor and I came in 34th. (Thus far, that is my lowest finishing placement.) Anyhow, much more was expected of me by: me, my friends, my sponsors and fans. It was a bummer to cross the finish line with only 6 dogs in harness. I got a lot of letters from kids that year saying: “Too bad“, “I wish you did better“, “I picked you to win… what happened?” These were all totally understandable comments.
By far, the BEST letter I have ever gotten in the 17 years of receiving letters from fans ~ young and older ~ came that spring from a young girl in Michigan. It said “I watched your race and rooted for you. I know that you didn’t win any priz mony, so I sent you my allowance.” Yes… I shed a lot of tears reading that one. And to this day, the taped up roll of quarters sits on our trophy shelf right next to Allen’s Sportsmanship Awards, our Yukon Quest Championship trophies and my ‘Spirit of the North’ award. Those quarters are very, very important to me.

Allen went to the Post Office yesterday. And please note the stack of taped quarters in the center.

Needless to say, we do our best to write back to all of the kids. It is important. Personal correspondence seems to have less and less importance in society today and now many kids don’t even think of writing a letter when they could just “like” someone on Facebook or “follow” their Twitter feed. Anyhow… I guess I am ‘old school’. I am still in favor of personal correspondence at SP Kennel.

Maybe it is because when I was 10 years old, I wrote a lot of letters. One year, I wrote to the leaders of all of the nations who still commercially hunted whales. Whales were very near and dear to me back then. (Not surprisingly, so were dogs. That’s another story all together.) I don’t recall any specific names or addresses, but I clearly remember scribbling addresses onto small envelopes: To the Prime Minister of Japan, To the President of Taiwan and To the Leader of the Soviet Union. I do not know how my Mom actually sent those letters. Could an American actually send a letter to the USSR is 1980? Anyhow, I was very excited about writing and sending those letters and I checked to see if anyone wrote me back. No one did.

Quick history lesson: in the 1980’s commercial whaling was a hot topic because it became obvious that the practice was harming the global whale population by killing more whales than were actually being born. At 10 years old, I became an enthusiastic part of the grassroots ‘Save the Whales’ campaign that was started by a 14 year old girl in California. I sold posters, t-shirts, walked door-to-door with petitions and sent letters. In 1986, both hunters and non hunters agreed to a commercial whaling was ban. Back then, I was pretty convinced that my letters had an impact. Whether my mom ever even mailed them… I haven’t asked.

14 Responses

  • This is a great post! Kids are so impressionable and they need good role models and interest in things other than computer games and social media. This sport offers so much to the kids no matter how far away they live! Its nice to see they show their interest by sending letters and even their allowance to encourage you to always do your best no matter what! Hats off to the kids and to SPK for being so responsive to their interest! Just another reason why we support and love SPK!

  • This is important, Aliy. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. Letters do make a difference, even if it just for the young person who wrote it. SPK is a shining example of what is good in this sport and in the hearts of those who truly love these dogs and the race. Love and blessings to all of you!

  • I still remember getting a letter from President Reagan thanking me for the 'Get Well Soon' letter I sent after he was shot in 1981. It's hard work to answer all the kids, but they will always remember it.

  • Whether your Mom mailed the letters.. Don't Ask. You don't need to know. It doesn't matter. What matters is what happened in you head and in your heart.

    Have a great summer

  • Thanks for taking the time to write people back. Karen's class watched the start and finish. They drew pictures of the action. I urged her to send these in. They had a ton of questions about the race, and Karen was able to answer most of them!

    Steve Laine

  • Writing letters is still important today. How else do our leaders know what we are thinking? Some times a "protest" catches attention, but it is letters, lots of them, from constituents that contribute to impact. Whether a leader decides to listen is up to them, but if we say nothing, then the assumption is we agree.

    Your letter was an important voice and still is today.

  • Re: If your Mom sent your letters department…

    My guess is "nope."

    Reminds me of my surprise when I "fessed up" that my older brother and I had been playing baseball in the living room for years. quickly putting the little bat and ball under the sofa when we heard sounds of our parents' return.

    Her reply: "So you think I didn't vacuum under the living room sofa?"

  • This might just be my favorite post ever. First, I was raised to write letters, thank you notes, pen pals. I suppose it arose from the fact that I had a grandmother who was an English teacher (don't ever write in red pen….red pens are for teachers!) and a father who was the postmaster in our small town. I think I was most struck by your young fan who sent you her allowance and the importance that carries for you this day. Thank you for continuing to be the inspiration that you are…..each and every day. Happy writing!


    Erie, PA

  • Love this. Kids are our future and so precious, the bright ones, the confused ones, the abused and hurt ones–so I really appreciate what you all are doing. As a kid I wrote pen pals, letters to the editor and all sorts of things so I cherish a real letter–emails and texts and all that just don't get it!

    As for saving stuff, who knows, sometimes just earnest prayers, good energies and thoughts from many young or not so young minds may have more power than we realize.

    Bless you all for everything you do and we do know and believe to the depths of our souls that "winning" truly is not everything; how you go about it and the sportsmanship, attitude, courage, perseverance and examples are much more the real 'win' in many endeavors.

  • Of course I mailed those letters! I specifically remember the small size of the envelopes and squeezing a stamp in the upper right corner.

    I dropped them at the PO (in Puerto Rico, where we lived in those days) and wondered if they would ever make it to their intended destination. I like to think they did.

    Kennel Mom

  • Wow, that quarters letter, I'm not going to forget that one. Very special. And look Kennel Mom is letting us all know fair and square what happened to the save the whales letters. Thanks, Kennel Mom!


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