A Minnesota friend of Alaska musher Brent Sass says she'd like to help him make as much money for getting booted from the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race as he would have earned for winning it.
Sass, a 35-year-old from the rural outpost of Eureka, was disqualified from the race on Tuesday. Race officials said he was traveling the trail with an iPod Touch in his sled. The device is capable of two-way wireless communication via the Internet.
Race rules ban two-way communication devices. Sass has said he was unaware he was breaking the rules and only brought his iPod along on the trail to listen to music and watch movies. Some fans believe the recent winner of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race was unduly punished by Iditarod for an oversight.
"I know many of you wanted an outlet to donate to Brent Sass and the Wild and Free kennel in support of the amazing man and musher he is and his best friends -- his dogs!'' friend Kelly Lynn Spiess posted in an online gofundme account set up for Sass on Wednesday. "I've set this up on behalf of the dozens of you that thought about it. Let's support our Champion!"
Spiess is a resident of Chanhassen, Minnesota. Sass grew up in that southeast corner of Minnesota, and his father, Mark, still runs Sass Construction in Chanhassen.
Spiess wants to raise at least $2,000 to help Sass recoup the cost of running the Iditarod that he is no longer part of, but she added, "I'm hoping we can raise more than Brent would have earned if he won this race! Let's make it happen!''
The winner of the 2015 Iditarod stands to collect $70,000. By Thursday morning, the Sass account was well short of that, but did collect nearly $4,000 in the first 19 hours.
Spiess made a strong pitch for her favorite musher, saying "he is the most humble, honest, hardworking, courageous, kind, and genuinely happy person I've had the pleasure of knowing. He is a role model for many mushers, children, and friends alike."