Iditarod Musher Spreads Coast Guard Message
Veteran Iditarod musher Ken Anderson is being sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard this year, and Commander of the 17th District, Rear Admiral Christopher Colvin was along for the ride at the ceremonial start of the Iditarod in Anchorage. The Coast Guard is using the race to both recruit new members and spread the message of boating safety.Alaska leads the nation in drowning related deaths per capita. Many hunters don't like to wear floatation devices because they don't blend in with their winter surroundings, but Coast Guard officials say they hope new white float coats will be used by western Alaska subsistence hunters as they venture out onto the pack ice or rivers. It's an effort that U.S. Senator Mark Begich says is true to the spirit of the Iditarod. “I know of his work with the Coast Guard,” said Senator Begich, “he does not just represent the Coast Guard as sponsor but throughout the year working with kids really shows what the coasties are about. They're not just out there doing what they do every day but they're also connecting with communities and making them aware of what a great service it is. So I think he's just a great, I don't want to say spokesman, mascot, or whatever the right term is, I think he embodies what the Coast Guard is all about.” The Iditarod is, after all, a race that was begun to commemorate a life-saving effort.