Fairbanks family embraces a mushing lifestyle

Posted: Monday, March 20, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- If success were based solely on the contributions from those around you, then team Blevins is a winner.

Lead by ''team'' mom Carol and supported by daughters Kristina, 16, Michelle, 15, and Kathy, 13, with appearances by son Jimmy, 10, and father Randy, the Blevinses are proof that a family can live, work and play in harmony.

The Blevins women, who are avid dog mushers, could usually be found at their home away from home at the Open North America Championship Sled Dog Race in Fairbanks helping second-place winner Ross Saunderson's sprint dog team this past weekend. (Egil Ellis won Sunday's race.)

''I like being active with my kids,'' Carol said. ''I like to do what they are doing.''

Most any day of the year, the Blevinses can be found doing something affiliated with dog mushing. While Carol might be cooking food for a large group of mushers, the girls can be found taking dogs out on the trail, or working with the Junior Dog Musher's Association Inc.

Carol said she and her daughters became interested in dog mushing about three years ago when Kristina started mushing. They then met veteran musher Mark May and the rest is history.

Not only are her daughters having fun with the dogs, but they are also learning about proper animal care, she said. By being around dogs, they are gaining valuable knowledge they would not have received in school, and Blevins has no problems with that.

''I feel if the kids are doing the sport, the parents should be there to help,'' she said.

Ranae Browning is an adult adviser with the Junior Dog Mushers' Association. She has worked with the Blevins women for three years, and thinks they are a dynamic family.

Browning said that when the Blevins family volunteers for activities, she knows they will always get done. She said the family goes the extra mile to make sure mushers get the help they need.

''Everyone wants to help the first- or second-place finishers of a race, but the Blevins are always willing to help anybody,'' Browning said.

While Kristina tends to her duties as vice president and Michelle serves as secretary of the JDMA, Kathy does her fair share of work behind the scenes too, Browning said. And that is what makes them so special, she said.

Despite many late nights and early mornings, Carol said she wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. She said participating in her children's activities is not only rewarding to her, it also makes them a close-knit family.

''It's better doing stuff with them than dropping them off someplace and seeing them go,'' she said.

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