• 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

  • Sports

    South defeats West for state football title

    by KTVA Sports on Oct 25, 12:34

    Five weeks ago, the South High Wolverines and the West High Eagles met for a matchup, in which the Wolverines won 55-9. A month later, the two teams met for a chance at the state title on Oct. 24. South’s head coach John Lewis warned his team that a blowout like the first may not be […]

  • News

    Alaska Federation of Natives Convention Day 2: Courting the Native vote

    by Rhonda McBride on Oct 24, 23:31

    Candidates have traditionally courted the Alaska Native vote at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention. But this election-season ritual has reached a fever pitch this year. Some of that could be due to the formation of the Unity ticket; the merged campaigns of Bill Walker, who was running as an independent candidate for governor, and […]

  • News

    Steese Highway collision kills 1

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 24, 23:00

    One person is dead and another injured following a head-on crash outside Fairbanks Friday night, Alaska State Troopers said. The collision on the Steese Highway near Hagelbarger Avenue was reported to troopers in Fairbanks just before 7:15 p.m., according to an AST dispatch. One person was seriously injured and later succumbed to their injuries, troopers […]

  • News

    South Anchorage crash injures 1, temporarily closes highway

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 24, 22:15

    Both lanes of the Seward Highway were closed for more than two hours Friday evening following a two-vehicle collision that left one person hospitalized. According to the Anchorage Police Department, the crash happened just after 5:30 p.m. near the highway’s intersection with O’Malley Road. A vehicle heading north crossed the median and hit another vehicle […]

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Oct. 24

    by KTVA Weather on Oct 24, 19:58

     

  • News

    Dam expansion increases Sitka’s power production

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 24, 19:44

    The Blue Lake Project in Sitka is set to dramatically increase the production of hydroelectricity for the city. Five miles out of town, up a one-lane dirt road, tucked into the mountains, construction crews work on the expansion in the windy canyon. The project is so massive it takes Alaska’s largest, 600-ton crane to make […]

  • News

    Anchorage mom loses boxing match, still wins big

    by Lauren Maxwell on Oct 24, 19:18

    Maria Edwards had never boxed before she got in the ring Thursday night at the Egan Center. But she had a good reason for taking part in Anchorage’s Thursday Night Fights: She was trying to earn enough cash to afford gymnastic lessons for her 3-year-old son. Edwards had her eye on the prize money, $50 […]

  • News

    Complaints lead to towing ordinance update

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 24, 18:46

    Anchorage residents who are angry over inconsistent and often exorbitant towing fees may soon see some relief. The Anchorage Assembly discussed a proposed amendment to the municipal towing ordinance Friday. The amendment would cap the price of non-consensual tows, such as when cars are towed from private lots, at $225. It also prevents towing companies from […]