The #Igivearod Donates More than $100,000 to Alaskan Communities

Contestants race 14 dogs across 1000 miles of Alaskan wilderness during the Iditarod, which is held in March every year. Photo credit: Christopher Holden

More than $100,000 was raised during this year’s Iditarod by a new grassroots initiative known as the #Igivearod.

The Iditarod is the most famous dog mushing race in the world. This year more than 79,000 people across the world followed the adventures of a rookie musher and decided to give back to the communities in the North. Blair Braverman, the rookie musher, inspired her twitter followers, known as the #uglydogs, to start the #Igivearod 2019. This initiative raised more than $100,000 for various programs across Alaska.

What is the Iditarod?

The Iditarod is known as the “Last Great Race on Earth” and is a 1000 mile race from Anchorage to Nome. The trail was made famous in 1925 when diphtheria medication had to be brought to Nome via dogsled, one of the most famous dogs from this enterprise was Balto. According to the official Iditarod website, “The race pits man and animal against nature, against wild Alaska at her best and as each mile is covered, it is a tribute to Alaska’s history and the role the sled dog’ played.”

This year 52 competitors attempted the race, with 39 of the mushers completing. Peter Kaiser, from Bethel, Alaska finishing in first place after 9 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes and 6 seconds on the trail.

What is the #Igivearod?

This year’s Iditarod was not only about what was happening on the trail, but also what was happening with those watching. On March 7th 2019, the #Igivearod campaign spontaneously grew out of the desire of some of Blair Braverman’s twitter followers to support communities along the Iditarod route.

The fist donations were given to help sponsor a field trip from Nikolai, one of the checkpoints during the race. Once the first project was supported, more opportunities for giving were shared and donations starting growing.  This grassroots giving was arranged through a spreadsheet, shared online, which can be found here.

According to a spreadsheet, the #Igivearod’s focus, “has been on supporting Alaska schools, with a particular emphasis on remote and rural communities  like those that make the race possible. The communities often need help funding essential items like tables, chairs, and books for their students, or for classroom enrichment items like art supplies, music equipment, and STEM teaching kits.”

Who Are the #UglyDogs?

Who helped donate this money to communities across the North? As mentioned, Blair Braverman is a rookie musher in this year’s Iditarod. She, and her husband, are part of the BraverMountain Musing. She is a social media sensation who shares her adventures and the stories of her dogs online. Their follows, known as the #UglyDogs, virtually follow along on her adventures.

The name #UglyDogs comes from an insult given to Ms. Braverman online, when someone said, “Go back to your ugly dogs, Karen.” This was taken to heart by both Ms. Braverman and her followers. (Although they make it clear that there are no ugly dogs!)

What Did They Fund

The online spreadsheet, which shows the breadth of the donations made, is extensive. At the end of the fundraising, which coincide with the last musher crossing the finish line, the #Igivearod has funded more than 120 projects.

The projects supported come from a variety of communities, including Nome, Anchorage, Point Hope, Tok, and Chugiak.  The funding amounts including projects for $200 all the way up to $7,000. Some projects had as many as 281 people donating, while others had only one donation that filled the entire requirement. Project Titles included: Communication is Key, PreK Readers Future Leaders!, Eat Your Veggies, and Dressed to Play (girl’s volleyball jerseys).

Each of the projects was tied to the either DonorsChoose or GoFundMe, which provided more information about the project. For example, the Community Coding With LEGOS page explains, “Learning takes on new dimensions when students are able to get their hands busy and their minds focused. LEGOS allow kids to use a toy that they are familiar with to create a little community with a codable engine!” Furthermore, the page has a breakdown of where the funding would go.