Racing for a good cause

Dog sled sprint draws good attendance

BALDWIN — The exhilarating rush of sled dogs competing for best time was met by dozens of spectators cheering for the local sponsors representing area businesses and organizations on Jan. 14.

The frigid air didn't stop crowds of people coming to watch and take part in the dog sled derby right in downtown Baldwin, between the Lake County Historical Museum and St. Ann Catholic Church.

In addition to enjoying a fun winter activity, people got to contribute to a good cause by donating food to the Bread of Life Food Pantry. Many non-perishable food items were dropped off, and more donations are still coming in from the Lake-Osceola State Bank branches in the county.

Amanda Burton, who helped organize the sponsor derby — a new way to kick off the annual dog sled races by Great Lakes Sled Dog Association at Stearns Siding — was thrilled by the outcome.

"I thought this was a huge success," Burton said. "My favorite thing about our community is how we always show up for each other. When Moe and Lydia (Moyer) [of GLSDA] had this great idea, I knew it would be fun, exciting and a great way to showcase our togetherness. It was tremendously thoughtful of Moe and Lydia and the many other mushers to take the time to set up the sprint race. Their kindness gave us an opportunity to learn about a forgotten sport."

During the sprint race, well-known local residents faced off, such as Lake County Sheriff Rich Martin racing Lake County Historical Society President Bruce Micinski. The sheriff went on to the next round, but Micinski noted his introduction to racing was, "Here's the brake and hang on tight."

Other competitors were from Shoey's, Baldwin Lumber, Lake-Osceola State Bank and others. Allyssa Witbeck from Shoey's walked away with the traveling trophy for winning the sponsor race, with the help of Ken Chezik's team Oreo and Snuffs senior dog rescue.

After the sponsor derby, mushers hosted a meet and greet and were provided a dinner at St. Ann's coffee room. A warming station also was offered at the Lake County Historical Museum.

In addition to Moe and Lydia from GLSDA and the mushers, Burton also extended a thank you to others who made the event a success, including Wesco for providing coffee, water and popcorn; Debbie from Debbies Sportsman's Bar for hot chocolate and salad; Chris from Marquette Trails Golf Course for sloppy joes; Jamie Martin from Lake-Osceola Bank for jambalaya; St. Ann's and all the sponsors and community who came together.