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The Fourth Annual Ikidarod, Held on January 21, 2001

           

Shriners Hospitals for Children-Spokane held its fourth annual Ikidarod on Jan. 21, 2001. This one-of-a-kind event brings together the best of two worlds, children and dogs, to create a unique happening, one that the Shrine patients who participate will not forget.

More than 30 patients and siblings converged on the Big Foot Tree Farm, north of Spokane. Twelve teams of dogs, including Samoyeds, Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies, were eager to pull these special kids for the ride of a lifetime.

"Many of these children have limited mobility, and this suspends that limitation for a brief time," said Cheri Hollenbeck, director of patient care services at the Spokane Shriners Hospital and originator of the Ikidarod.

An event of this magnitude could not happen without a lot of help, and the staff at the Shriners Hospital really shines. More than 30 staff members volunteered their time for set up, checking in kids, helping kids on and off sleds, monitoring trails on snow shoes, cooking lunch for all the mushers, serving cookies and hot chocolate, and taking pictures. The El Katif MoonShriners also assisted, monitoring the parking lots, keeping the bonfire going, arranging for plowing, and setting up the warming hut.

There were many beaming faces as the kids returned from their ride through the glistening field. One boy, 10-year-old Anthony, told his father, "I know just what I'm going to be when I grow up, a dog musher!"

As families departed, many shared their appreciation to the Shriners and asked to be invited next year. One of the mushers summed up what the Ikidarod is all about: "We may not win races, but our dogs put smiles on children's faces."