We can't do it without our sponsors!
Summer jobs in Alaska are the norm. (Usually May through September.) This is when the sun shines 24 hours a day, the temperatures are reasonable and plenty of outdoor work can be done. Allen and Aliy have built a spec home every summer for the last 5 years. They build the home from the ground up - from clearing trees to hanging cabinets. The income from these projects provides the money for their personal living expenses.
Winter jobs are less common in Alaska and many "Snow Birds" fly south to find employment in the Lower "48". Obviously, winter (October – April) for Allen and Aliy is spent working at the kennel, training dogs and racing. SP Kennel makes money through race winnings, dog sales and a limited tourist operation in April. These moneys go directly to the kennel and can be significant. However, the most critical source of operating funds for SP Kennel is sponsorship.
Sponsorship varies widely. For an extreme example of sponsorship, look at any NASCAR racing event. Most of the car drivers are paid big money to decorate their cars with name brands, drink certain soda pop while on TV or wear a ball cap with a particular logo. SP Kennel does not, thank heavens, go to that extreme. But, our sponsors are a wide variety of people and companies from around the world.
SP Kennel has several important Corporate sponsors. HORIZON LINES of Alaska and EAGLE PACK Holistic Brand Dog Food are two of our large sponsors. Horizon Lines has a reputation in Alaska for dedication and professionalism, just like SP Kennel. Thus they identify with Aliy and use her for community outreach, public speaking and company entertainment throughout the year. Eagle Pack, developer and producer of a unique formula for long distance racing dogs, expects top race performances. Our teams are highly competitive thanks, in part, to their diet of Eagle Pack brand dog foods. The teams’ performances are true and just advertisement for Eagle Pack products.
As we have mentioned previously, the health and welfare of our dogs is the most important goal of SP Kennel. Dr Jean Battig, of Chena Ridge Veterinary Clinic, helps us care for our dogs throughout the year. Her sponsorship, through her veterinary services, allows us to routinely provide every dog (pups, racers and retired) with the very best possible health care.
SP Kennel also has Individual sponsors. These are people who want to be a part of the SP Kennel team. They want a team to root for and want some inside information on "what it’s all about". These folks end up being the heart and soul of the team.
We have different levels of individual sponsorship depending on how much an individual cares to donate. Larger donations are received with the commitment that these donors will be an important part of the SP Kennel team throughout the season. They often make a trip to the kennel, the Iditarod start or even to the finish in Nome. These folks become very familiar with the dogs and the kennel set up.
Smaller donations are just important. Some folks may not have the time or means to visit the kennel or Alaska this season, but still would like to be a part of the SP Kennel team. Often these people will agree to sponsor a dog for the season. They receive updates on ‘their’ dog’s training and racing progress. These individuals are an integral part of the team because, as we have stressed, it is the individual dogs that make sled dog racing so special.
We have also had people sponsor a specific checkpoint along the Iditarod Trail. In doing this, they pay for all of the supplies needed at that re-supply stop during the Iditarod. This is an exciting learning experience. These sponsors become intimately familiar with the geography, population and weather for a portion of the race trail while having a tangible impact on the race progress of the SP Kennel teams.
Lastly, some folks have a limited budget but still want to be part of the SP Kennel team. These sponsors will send a small donation that is directly responsible for an item needed on the Iditarod trail. For example, we have a regular sponsor who buys 20 Chemical Heat Warmers for the Iditarod and he knows that he is keeping Aliy’s hands warm!
Regardless of the level of sponsorship an individual or corporation chooses, we at SP Kennel are thankful to them all. Sometimes it’s the smallest gesture that gets the team to the finish line!
For more details about sponsoring SP Kennel go to http://www.aliyzirkle.com/ and click on ‘Sponsorship’.