“If you don’t give up, if you’re still making forward progress, then you haven’t failed and something can happen,” Borden told to the crowd of students as he shared stories of making his way across the trail. “And if something happens, you’re not out of the race, you’re still going forward.”
While students were expecting Borden’s visit, they were surprised by him bringing along the sled he used in the race.
“Two of my parents actually met him ... so I emailed him and he said he would be glad to come and talk with my children,” Taylor said. “It’s just a really neat visit and everybody here is real excited.
“We’re studying the race and each student has picked a musher to do, so they [were] all excited about him coming.”
Student Lia Glass said she enjoyed learning about the race and how the mushers work with thier dogs.
“We’ve been learning how the mushers basically have to take care of their dogs, how they do take care of them and what they use to take care of them,” Glass said, adding she is following musher Jason Mackey of Alaska. “I have a dog myself and I really liked how he would tell us stories about his dogs.”
For example, she said she enjoyed hearing about the dogs’ diets, which can be about 15,000 calories a day, or as Borden related, about 30 McDonald’s Big Mac hamburgers.
Borden said he visits about 50 to 60 schools a year on the local level through his nonprofit Cool Dreams, named after his Cool Dreams racing team, and the Iditarod program.
“The Iditarod program is in 6,000 schools nationwide and they use it for all grade levels. They use it for math, they use it for geography, they use it for national history — all sorts of things,” Borden said. “There’s three or four of us nationwide that go into schools, there are several fans that go to school and talk to [students] and then the Cool Dreams Foundation ... is an actual 501 (c)(3) and we actually have zero administrative costs, which I’m really happy with.”
He continued, “Every penny that gets donated goes back into schools for trading cards [of Iditarod mushers], projectors [for presentations], things like that, and some years we’ll hit 150 schools ... and [we’ve talked to] over 450,000 kids since we started.”
Following his presentation, students received an official musher card of Borden, similar to a baseball card, as well as autographs. Mushers are expected to arrive today at the finish line of this year’s race.