• 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

  • News

    UPDATE: 2 in hospital after planes collide mid-air in the Valley

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 31, 15:36

    Troopers are responding to a plane crash in the Mat-Su Valley that occurred Saturday afternoon. Just after 1 p.m., Alaska State Troopers received a report that two aircrafts collided mid-air in the Valley, said AST spokeswoman Megan Peters. Authorities responded to two separate wreckage sites, in the area of Knik-Goose Bay Road and Vine Road. Both planes were […]

  • News

    Less than 50 days ’til Alaska sees 1st day of spring

    by Janessa Webb on Jan 31, 14:19

    While the Midwest and portions of the East coast have been shoveling their way out of a snowstorm, it’s well below average in the snowfall department across the 49th state. A large dome of high pressure took over the state Sunday afternoon, causing temperatures across the southern Seward Peninsula and North Slope to hit 30 […]

  • News

    McDonald’s around Anchorage to let customers ‘pay with lovin’

    by Sierra Starks on Jan 31, 13:57

      Imagine this. A customer walks into his local McDonald’s restaurant to order from the breakfast menu. “Two hash browns and a small coffee,” he tells the cashier, Matt. Instead of giving the customer his total to pay, the cashier says, “You know what? For your payment today, do you have your cell phone with […]

  • News

    UPDATE: Begich will not run for Anchorage mayor, will head company instead

    by Sierra Starks on Jan 31, 13:04

    Former Sen. Mark Begich’s next move is no longer a secret — he will not be running for the Mayor of Anchorage in this year’s election. The former senator has announced that he is instead creating his own company, Northern Compass Group. Begich says the company will focus on developing businesses and working on public […]

  • Sports

    Local Seahawks fans voice their support ahead of Super Bowl Sunday

    by on Jan 30, 23:11

    The Seattle Seahawks continue preparing for Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz. Fans back in Anchorage are sending a loud message to their favorite team hoping the Seahawks win their second straight championship. Fans staged a rally early Friday night at Flat Top Pizza. It took place after they took part in another event at […]

  • News

    Former NFL player helps teens become successful, avoid trouble with the law

    by Dave Leval on Jan 30, 22:50

    Former defensive end Mao Tosi has tackled many people during his playing days in college and in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals. Being home in Anchorage, however, may provide his biggest obstacle. Ten years ago, Tosi created AK Pride, a program in which he teams mentors with kids in a variety of programs ranging […]

  • News

    Alaska Regional Hospital announces plans for Mountain View clinic

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 30, 21:48

    The Anchorage Community Land Trust and Alaska Regional Hospital have signed an agreement to open a community health clinic in Mountain View to better serve residents in the area. The clinic would provide primary care services for residents in the Mountain View community, many of whom may not be getting the level of healthcare they […]

  • News

    Mayoral candidates address recent Anchorage violence

    by Kate McPherson on Jan 30, 20:34

    With the recent surge in violent crimes in Anchorage, some of the candidates in the upcoming mayoral race are speaking out against the actions of perpetrators and looking for ways to protect other residents. Candidate Andrew Halcro says the recent shootings in Anchorage need to be addressed with dedicated gang and drug task forces. “When […]