Fund-raiser garners support for mushers

Posted: Monday, November 10, 2003

The tiny town of Kasilof came together at the Decanter Inn on Saturday to support two of its own.

It was an effort to raise funds to send brothers Lance and Jason Mackey on their way to compete in the Last Great Race -- the Iditarod.

"We're bound for Nome," Jason said. But the Kasilof-based musher added it's pretty expensive to go from Anchorage all the way to the Burled Arch finish line.

"Adding up gear, dog food, entry fees -- we're looking at needing around $10,000 to $15,000 apiece."

They need financial help to send them on their way, so they held a fund-raiser in the hopes the community would show its support.

"We thought it would be a good way to raise some money that would be a lot of fun and a little easier on the community," Lance said.

"Easier" he explained, meaning that there are a lot of mushers looking for funds and sponsorship, and it's difficult for the community to support them all.

So by holding a fund-raiser, it gave people who support the Mackeys a little something in return. Those who attended the event received an Italian dinner, sponsored by Glenn and Trudy Tisdale, the owners of the Decanter Inn.

There also was live music by Butch Leman and an outcry auction, featuring a diversity of items.

There was a large amount of Iditarod memorabilia and artwork auctioned off, and items donated by area businesses.

The featured auction item was a log cabin kit with 10 yards pit run gravel delivered, donated by South Side Lumber and Twin Peaks Construction.

However, as exciting as this prize was, there was one unique item that seemed to steal the thunder from all the rest. A combination package offering a neuter for a dog and a vasectomy for the owner, courtesy of the Peninsula Surgical Clinic and Kenai Veterinary Clinic.

The unusual auction item valued at $855 whipped the crowd into a fit of laughter, and after pleading with the crowd not to bid against him, the winning bidder was Ray Stelljes of Kenai.

"You don't know how bad I need this," yelled Stelljes after winning the auction package, and admitted that he would definitely be collecting on the vasectomy.

The auction raised several thousand dollars for the Mackeys.

Close to 100 people turned out for event, including fellow dog racing competitors Paul Gebhardt and Dean Osmar.

Lance said he was pleased, but not entirely surprised that other mushers would show their support.

"Sure on the trail we're competitors, but we're all still friends, and mushers help each other out in any way we can," he said.

Jason was deeply touched by the huge turnout.

"It's overwhelming," he said. "My hat's off to so many people."

The Mackeys' mother, Kathie Smith, came down from Wasilla to take part in the festivities and was equally impressed with the community's generosity.

"It's awesome to see the people down here be so supportive of my kids. I just can't say enough about the people. My sons are very grateful for their help," she said.

Smith added she thinks this will be a good race year for the brothers.

"They've worked hard, and they've devoted their whole being to running dogs. It'll pay off for them."

The Mackeys are still taking contributions to help them get to Nome. Anyone interested may send donations or other support to P.O. Box 1275, Kasilof, AK 99610.

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