Second-year Iditarod musher Alan Eischens runs dogs to bring awareness to pediatric diseases. "Any parents out there (who) have that sixth sense and they think something's wrong with their children," Eischens told the crowd gathered at the annual Iditarod Mushers Banquet on Thursday evening. "When the doctor says that they might have a cold or something, follow it. Because you never know exactly what it could be."
This is a cause close to his heart. A family friend's daughter, six-year-old Remedy Carte, was diagnosed with brain cancer three years ago. And now she is well enough to go along with Eischens during Saturday morning's ceremonial start as his official IditaRider. The Iditarod auctions a spot for a rider on each musher's sled during every ceremonial start. They typically go for thousands of dollars each. Alaska Airlines heard about Carte's illness and wanted to brighten her mood. So they secured Eischens' sled and donated the ride to Carte.
But it doesn't stop there. Eischens' family and friends and the city of Nome also pitched in for this impromptu "Make a Wish"-style gift. Carte and her mother, Heather DeVilbiss, will visit Nome for a week around the Iditarod finish. They'll have all their expenses paid and DeVilbiss will even receive some extra money for her lost wages. "It's a life dream for them," said Eischens.