Musher tells students to work hard by M. Jill Sundstrom Iditarod musher Vern Halter and his wife Susan Whiton of Willow, AK visited Jolley School May 10 to share the story of their experiences on the Iditarod Trail.
Vern and Susan showed the students a video about the 1999 race, in which Vern placed third out of 54 mushers, his personal best. The students also learned about training for a race, how mushers steer their sleds and what they need to wear to survive the grueling trek from Anchorage to Nome, AK. They also learned about Doc, one of Vern�s lead dogs, who is deaf, but has a heart as big as the state in which he lives.
�He has a never-quit attitude,� Vern said. �He loves what he�s doing and always tries hard � with a constant smile.�
Vern encouraged students to set goals and follow their dreams, as he has. He added that they must also do their best to be like Doc, work hard and enjoy what they do.
Vern is a Flandreau native and a graduate of The University of South Dakota School of Law. He left South Dakota in 1977 for Alaska, where he served as public defender in Kotzebue, AK, prior to his full-time training to race in the Iditarod.
Vern participated in his first Iditarod race in 1983, finishing 28th. Since then, he has completed the race 12 times. In addition to other races, he has participated in Alaska�s Yukon Quest, placing second in 1989, and the John Beargrease Race in Minnesota, in which he placed third in 1989 and second in 1990. His first place accomplishments include the Two Rivers 200 in 1985, the Moose Creek 100 in 1988 and the Klondike 300 in 1998.
Vern and his wife Susan, a licensed veterinarian, own and operate �Dream a Dream Dog Farm� which is home to 75 huskies and is located in both Willow and Trapper Creek, AK. Susan has also run the Iditarod twice.
Sponsored by Norwest Bank South Dakota, Vern and Susan tour and visit thousands of students annually. This year, they will go to 96 schools in North and South Dakota and western Minnesota to share their stories with 48,000 students.