• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 25s

Mushing for veterans

By Dave Goldman 10:24 PM February 26, 2014

For Rick and Jennifer Casillo, it's about more than the race

ANCHORAGE – Rick and Jennifer Casillo’s purpose goes far beyond the Iditarod finish line in Nome.

The couple runs Battle Dawgs Racing and Alaska’s Healing Hearts, two groups dedicated to honoring our nation’s veterans.

The goal of their operation is to give wounded veterans a place to replenish their spirit, and say what better place to do that than Alaska.

“Alaska’s the greatest healing grounds that could possibly be, so I wanted to bring the warriors up there and let them hang out with the dogs and me for the day and teach them a little but about mushing and let them enjoy the dogs,” Rick said. “Seeing it firsthand and the reaction with the dogs, you can just kind of see a release with them, and so it’s something we hope to continue for years to come.”

While Rick is the musher, his wife Jennifer is the inspiration. She served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Air Force aircraft maintenance officer.

They hosted veterans over the summer as part of their glacier sled dog tours and even had several visit during the winter while training for the Last Great Race.

“It’s grown us closer, for sure,” Jennifer said. “We’ve definitely found a common ground that we’ve both been able to be passionate about.”

Rick agrees.

“I’ve never served in the military, but in a way this is me serving … and giving back,” Rick said. “We just hope to do the best we can and help as many people as we possibly can.”

Click here for more information about Battle Dawgs Racing.

Latest Stories

  • Politics

    Panel pitches plan to eliminate cashable oil tax credits

    by Associated Press on Apr 24, 21:51

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – An Alaska Senate committee has proposed eliminating cash credits for oil and gas companies that lawmakers have increasingly come to see as unaffordable. The proposal doesn’t delve as deeply into oil tax policy as the version that passed the House. But the Alaska Oil and Gas Association says an initial review […]

  • Ex-‘Deadliest Catch’ star arrested on drug charges

    by Associated Press on Apr 24, 21:47

    PHOENIX (AP) – A former reality television star has been arrested in Phoenix for alleged vehicle theft and drug possession. Phoenix police say 31-year-old Jacob Harris was released on his own recognizance Monday after his initial court appearance. He faces a May 5 status conference. Harris was on Discovery channel’s “Deadliest Catch” series. According to […]

  • We may be underestimating whale-boat collisions

    by Associated Press on Apr 24, 21:34

    PORTLAND, Maine — A group of marine scientists says collisions of whales and boats off of the New England coast may be more common than previously thought. The scientists focused on the humpback whale population in the southern Gulf of Maine, a body of water off of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. They found that […]

  • Man gets 4 years in Anchorage bank robbery

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 24, 21:25

    An Anchorage man has been sentenced to serve four years behind bars following a conviction for a 2016 bank robbery. Scott Hartvig McDowell, 49, was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release in connection with the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union robbery that occurred on August 2, 2016. McDowell presented […]

  • News

    Aurora watchers spot something new in night sky

    by CBS News on Apr 24, 21:00

    Citizen scientists looking at the northern lights appear to have stumbled upon a new natural phenomenon. Members of the Facebook group Alberta Aurora Chasers posted photos of a mysterious purple streak cutting through the night’s sky. In their early posts, the group’s members referred to the streak of purple light as a “proton arc” — […]

  • Juneau playground fire ‘possibly arson’

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 24, 20:52

    A fire broke out Monday evening at a popular child’s playground in Juneau. The Twin Lakes playground went up in flames in the 5 o’clock hour Monday evening, and the $250,000-worth of playground equipment is a total loss. No injuries were reported, according to Capital City Fire and Rescue. The Fire Marshal is investigating the […]

  • News

    Alaskans might need passport for flights, military base access

    by Liz Raines on Apr 24, 19:38

    If state lawmakers don’t pass new legislation soon, Alaskans may not be able to use their  State of Alaska driver’s license to fly or access military bases.  That’s because of the Real ID Act passed by Congress in 2005, designed to create minimum security standards for all state ID cards nationwide. Now, 12 years later, the […]

  • News

    Crowd packs 4th Avenue Theater meeting

    by Lauren Maxwell on Apr 24, 17:49

    Meetings of the State’s Historic Preservation Commission don’t always draw big crowds, but on Monday morning, the room was packed. People came to testify before the Commission as to why they believed Anchorage’s 4th Avenue Theater should be designated a historic monument by the state. Judy Bittner, chair of the commission, said the hearing was […]