ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Denali Foods Inc., the owner of the state's Taco Bell franchises, has entered into a multiyear sponsorship agreement with Iditarod musher Dee Dee Jonrowe.
Jonrowe, who is battling breast cancer, lost longtime sponsor Eddie Bauer earlier this year. The company said it wanted to pursue new marketing directions.
Jonrowe, who is undergoing chemotherapy, has said she hopes to run in the Iditarod next March. But both she and Dale Martens, president of Denali Foods, know that might not happen.
''Obviously, we are going to stand by her whether or not she runs the race,'' Martens said. ''Obviously, we are hoping she will.''
Martens said he's been following Jonrowe's story and was struck by her challenges. Then came the cancer and the news her health insurance was woefully insufficient.
''I just thought she was too important to Alaska and the Iditarod to not have a sponsor when she was battling cancer,'' Martens said. ''She needed to be able to focus on getting healthy rather than on where she's getting her money.''
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