ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Iditarod's auction of rides with mushers has fallen short of its fundraising goal, but race organizers say they are pleased that the Idita-rider program managed to generate $81,000 in bids this year.
Iditarod executive director Stan Hooley said that given the terrorist attacks and a faltering Lower 48 economy, fund-raising problems were anticipated.
Though far below the budgeted goal of $120,000 -- the amount raised two years ago -- the shortfall was not as bad as it might have been, according to Hooley. Going into the last day of the auction, he said, the Iditarod had only $55,000 in bids on the table.
''Frankly, from where we started the day, I am pleased with the way we finished up,'' he said. The amount raised was not far off the $87,000 raised last year, Hooly said.
The top 20 bids for rides all came from Iditarod fans in Lower 48 states.
Fan favorite DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow and former Iditarod champ Jeff King from Denali Park led the way. A Texan paid $7,500 for the chance to ride a few miles in Jonrowe's sled. King attracted a $7,500 bid from a rider from Nebraska, the home state of King's major sponsor, Cabela's, a major mail order supplier of outdoor recreational equipment.
Four-time winner and defending champ Doug Swingley drew a $6,700 bid from a rider from Michigan.
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