BULLIES come in all ages

BULLIES come in all ages
(click to see movie trailer)

Surround yourself with positive people,
energy, and situations;
always avoid negativity.


Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
So, love the people who treat you right.

Forgive, and then forget about the ones who don't.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday's Musher

Susan H. Butcher
Dec 26, 1954 - Aug 5, 2006

In anticipation of my up-coming trip to the Iditarod in March, I've decided to feature a different musher each Monday. I'll share some interesting information concerning featured mushers' professional and personal lives.

With so many impressive mushers to choose from you might think it was difficult to make my first choice.
But I had no doubt; I must pay tribute to my favorite musher of all time: Susan Butcher.

Susan Howlet Butcher was an animal lover, a business woman, a wife and a mother. Susan was the reason I became interested in the Iditarod and dog sledding many years ago.

Each year I taught a Winter unit in my classroom. As part of the unit my class would watch and discuss Reading Rainbow episode #805, "Snowy Day: Stories and Poems", featuring Susan. I remember being surprised to learn that Susan was born in Massachusetts (East Coast girl, like me), a year younger than I, and she moved to the
Wrangell Mountains area of Alaska, at the age of 20, to pursue her love of the wilderness and animals.

The more I learned about Susan, the more I admired, respected, and envied her. Her love for the dogs convinced me that dog-sledding was not a cruel or inhumane sport. Her devotion was obvious and I sensed that she would never do anything to jeopardize her dogs' safety or well-being. She truly considered them as family members.

Butcher won the Iditarod four times in five years, so often that "Iditarod," as well as the sport of mushing, became synonymous with her name. Her success led to the saying, “Alaska: where men are men and women win the Iditarod".

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said, "No one exemplifies the spirit of Iditarod more than Susan Butcher. She was a great role model for so many Alaskans, including me. I greatly admire her perseverance, dedication and competitiveness.

December 2, 2005 Susan Butcher was diagnosed with leukeacute myelogenous mia, which manifested as a blood disorder three years earlier. She underwent chemotherapy at the University of Washington, and received a bone marrow transplant on May 17, 2006 after the cancer went into remission. According to her husband David Monson, "someone said this might be a tough disease, but this leukemia hasn't met Susan Butcher yet."[1] Butcher died on August 5, 2006 after fighting graft-versus-host disease and learning that the cancer had returned. She is survived by her two daughters, Tekla and Chisana, and her husband, attorney and musher David Monson. On March 1, 2008, Susan Butcher was honored by the State of Alaska when, just prior to the start of the 2008 Iditarod, Gov. Sarah Palin signed a bill establishing the first Saturday of every March as Susan Butcher Day. The day coincides with the traditional start of the Iditarod each year. Observing the special day, the bill noted, provides opportunity for people to “remember the life of Susan Butcher, an inspiration to Alaskans and to millions around the world.” (wikipedia)

My only regret is that I didn't get to the Iditarod sooner...

I would love to hear your memories of Susan...Please share in comments. (it's easy and pls post your location, thx)

Any guesses on next week's featured musher? I bet Ms. Janet knows...


Terri Steffes said...

Thank you for coming to visit my blog. I can tell yours is going to be very fun! I know nothing about this race you like but I love learning about lots of different things. I have heard of this musher before, but I didn't know she was called a musher til now!

Kathy said...

Susan was my hero, too! I had the pleasure of meeting her in person in 1998 on our first Alaska trip! We were on the Discovery II steaming up the Chena River, drizzly weather making it a bit uncomfortable on the top deck where there's no roof! All of sudden the captain announced, "on the port side we have Susan Butcher at her kennels..." I didn't hear the rest! I was in heaven! I kept asking Grant, "IS IT REALLY SUSAN BUTCHER?? IT LOOKS LIKE HER! THEY WOULDN'T KID ABOUT A THING LIKE THAT!!!" I really get to meet Susan Butcher THE IDITAROD RIDER?!!!

She had one of her newest puppies cuddled inside her jacket and his cute whimpering was picked up by her microphone!

Then the boat docks and you can see her and dogs up close and personal. WOW! It had already been a wonderful trip but that was one of the highlights!

I felt so bad for her family when she was diagnosed and grief stricken when she lost her battle!

This past July I got to see her youngest daughter in Fairbanks, also on the Discovery III trip. That day happened to be her birthday and we all sang her "Happy Birthday" from the boat to her!
Thanks for starting with Susan!

Ms. ~K said...

Wow!!! Thanks for sharing!
Mush On!!!!

Anonymous said...

Kit I don't think I ever told you this -- about 3or 4 years ago I was shopping in Fred Meyers in Fairbanks and as I rounded the aisle there was Susan Butcher with Chisana in her shopping cart. Tekla was not with her that day. I gathered all my courage and approached her and told her that she is my hero. I can't remember exactly what else I said but Chisana began crying and Susan gave her full attention to her little girl so I went on my way. Not only was she a wonderful woman and athlete but a dedicated and tender mother. I am still thrilled that I had the chance to tell her how much she means to women everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Such a perfect selection for a wonderful blog feature that will now make me look forward to Mondays! Shhhh. I won't tell who next week's pick is.
I had the fun of spending about an hour or two with Tekla this past March in the Mini-Convention Center/Iditarod Nome Headquarters. Walt and I were warming up for a bit and my Russian fox hat was sitting on the table. Tekla came bouncing over (no other word for it) and asked if she could try it on. I said of course. Not only did she look adorable, but she plopped herself down and told me all about school and how much she loves creative writing. Being a former English teacher I asked her what she wrote about and that launched our 2 hour conversation. She is VERY alive with an amazing imagination and a terrific ability to communicate. I predict great fun things from this young lady.

Ms. ~K said...

Lovely memories, Idita-Sista.
Thanks for sharing,

Anonymous said...

Your blog has taken on a life of its own. Very impressive Ms K!
I love the bits of German communication.

Agent Cicada

Anonymous said...

Wow Kit...you're going to the Iditarod? Awesome! Did you know that one of the Pie Peeps is also a Musher? That would be Sleddogs from Ohio...I will have to find out if he will be there this year, I'm pretty sure he has been there in the past.
BTW...I love your blog!

Tanya (TLS51)

Anonymous said...

can u leave ur phone number to me???