It began as a lark. Now, the annual sponsorship of a musher in the Iditarod Alaskan sled dog race has become a branding message for J.J. Keller & Associates, Neenah. It didn’t hurt that its musher, Dallas Seavey, won the 975-mile race from Anchorage to Nome last year.
Next month, Jim Keller, president and chief executive officer of J.J. Keller, and his wife Rosanne, will travel to Alaska to see the racers cross the finish line for the seventh year. What began as a lark, when they met Seavey on a stop to tour his family’s sled dog kennel during an Alaskan cruise in 2006, has become an annual tradition for the couple. They encouraged the young man to take his prowess as a former international high school wrestler to hit the competitive trail. When he took first place last March he was the youngest to win it, at age 25.
“We do it for the adventure, the quest,” says Keller. It’s become an educational tool, as well, with students from all over the world following the race as a class project.
Last fall Keller published a book about his experiences with Seavey and the Iditarod, “Born to Mush.” To follow his blog and see highlights of the Idiatrod, which leaves Anchorage March 2, go to http://iditarod.jjkeller.com/dnn/.