Philip Walters-- Running Toward Iditarod

Hi, I'm Philip Walters, a public middle school band teacher and sled dog musher living in Eagle River, Alaska.  I grew up in Lanham, MD and attended the University of Georgia, where I earned a bachelors degree in music education in 2004. During a vacation to Alaska in 2002, I fell in love with Alaska and everything about it, and decided to move there in January 2005. I began teaching band in the Anchorage School District in 2005, and earned my masters degree in band conducting from the American Band College in 2010.

In 2007 I started volunteering with a sled dog kennel in Chugiak, after reading the book "Winterdance" by Gary Paulsen.  One run on a dogsled and I was hooked! Ever since then, I have been working toward my goal of completing the 1,000-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race, "The Last Great Race on Earth", putting in many long hours working with the dogs to make sure we as are prepared as possible for this feat!

Over the past 7 years, I have worked with hundreds of amazing canine athletes and several veteran distance mushers, including several Iditarod finishers. I am proud to represent Snowhook Kennel, owned and operated by 4-time Iditarod finisher Justin Savidis and his wife Rebecca. These dogs have become my family and I look forward to my 1,000-mile journey with them!

What's Next?

The next big step in signing up for the Iditarod is the $3,000 entry fee. Why so expensive? The Iditarod takes place almost completely off of the road system, which means that everything needed for the race must be sent out to the checkpoints by small plane. The cost of putting this race on is astronomical. This is why I need your help!

Any little bit helps. My first sponsors handed me $20 and said, "Put this toward Iditarod." That is the kind of support I love! Even if we don't reach the $3000 goal (and I am sure we will!), every dollar will help me get closer to the starting line, and the famed Burled Arch finish line in Nome!

I am not just running this race for myself. As a 9-year veteran public school music teacher, I am becoming increasingly alarmed with the state of education funding in Alaska, where we are losing high-quality teachers every year due to the failure of our elected officials to adequately fund public education. I am running to raise awareness of the education funding crisis, as well as trying to emphasize the importance of the arts-- specifically music-- in every child's education.

How Can I Thank You Enough?

Simply put, I can't thank you nearly enough for your support. If you can help, I will do my best to thank you in a way that will be appropriate and help you feel like you are part of the team (because you are!). 

Please be aware: There is some risk here. If for some reason I fail to complete my last 300-mile qualifying race before the race begins in March 2015, I will not be allowed to compete in the Iditarod, and will forfeit my entry fee. However, I have every confidence that this will not be an issue, as I have already completed two qualifying races and have 7 years of distance mushing experience-- rest assured that I know what I am doing!

We're Not Done Yet!

The entry fee is only the first step. There are many financial challenges left to face before my team and I leave the starting line in March 2015. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

And no matter what you do, PLEASE SHARE this link with all your friends, coworkers, neighbors-- support sometimes comes from the most unlikely sources!
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Philip Walters 
Eagle River, AK