Summary of #igivearod2019

The 2019 Iditarod ended on 3/18/2019 1:51pm AKDT when the Red Lantern winner, Victoria Hardwick, crossed the Burled Arch into Nome. With the ending of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the inaugural IGiveARod also came to a close. The total amount raised for Alaskan schools during this organic, spontaneous crowdfunding campaign was over $110,000. 

The original intent was to focus on the rural and Alaska native villages along the Iditarod Trail, who kindly provide volunteers, lodging, and food every year to support the Sled Dog and many other races along the trail. These schools in particular face unique challenges due to their locations and indigenous heritage. Many towns are accessible only by plane and are cut off in winter. There are very few stores and limited access to fresh vegetables and fruits. Many villages still follow Alaska Native traditions and live a subsistence lifestyle that is dependent on catching, gathering, and hunting food from the surrounding land. The children play an essential role in helping support their families and may receive time off during the school year to assist in hunting, fishing, or other activities necessary to procuring food. These seasons and this lifestyle have grown more difficult and unpredictable as the usual sea ice melts and animal migration patterns change due to warmer weather.

The IGiveARod campaign ended up branching out to share the generosity with other villages and schools in need. Funding for schools all over the state is in dire straits. These schools are requesting basic necessities like tables, chairs, cleaning supplies, snacks to feed the students, upgraded technology equipment that is so essential to 21st century education, and engineering kits to teach their students STEM skills that can put them on the path to a successful career. Some schools are still recovering from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck near Anchorage in November, 2018. 

We appreciate any support you’re willing to provide, whether its monetary donation, sharing the campaign, or writing postcards to the students. The IGiveARod may be over for this year but the challenges these schools and students face continue. 

~IGiveARod Keepers of the Sheet

The beginning

An #UglyDog heard about some kids fundraising to go to Anchorage

Hey #uglydogs, remember the kids at Top of the Kuskokwim School who were working at the Nikolai #Iditarod2019 checkpoint to raise money for a school trip? Let’s help em out! I emailed their principal and she just replied! They still need $4k!

When the trip was funded in less than 24 hours, Duncan had a brilliant idea to continue along the trail

Hey, #uglydogs! I’d like to propose a project: as a group we helped fund a trip to Anchorage for students in Nikolai. What if we continue along the Iditarod trail, helping schools from each community? For example, in Grayling: (DC link).

After the initial frenzy, donations took off and the IGiveARod was born

Nikolai’s principal

I am absolutely amazed at the generosity shown to our students by all of your amazing donations and words of support. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping make our trip possible. The donations for our trip, in less than 24 hours, have far surpassed what we thought would happen when we set up our account. As such, I have disabled the donation portion of our account. We do not want to take advantage of the generosity of such an amazing group of people. 

We plan to share updates and photos of our trip when we go to Anchorage and Seward at the end of April so that any of our interested donors are able to see what their generosity made possible. Again, thank you all so very much for helping us make this trip possible for our students. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me right away or leave a comment on the gofundme account and I will answer as quickly as I can. 

To #uglydogs, you are all amazing people!! If you ever end up visiting Alaska, you will always be welcome in Nikolai.


Tara Wiggins

Principal Teacher, Top of the Kuskokwim School

Nikolai’s 4th grade trip to Anchorage sparked the Igivearod

Thank you for all of your donations to 4th graders in Nikolai. I am a parent of one of those students, this brought me to tears if we surpass the goal we might add another event for the kids thank you all from the bottom of my heart! Blair Braverman you have forever fans here.

Quince heard about the Igivearod when he arrived in Nikolai

We made it to Nikolai, which was quite a trip. (More on that later.)  Principal opened school for us to sleep & when I mentioned my wife was on trail & who, she flipped. #UglyDogs have done much for this community- these 4th graders widening their worlds with their amazing teacher!

Q was able to show the #UglyDogs where the donations were going & why they were so badly needed

These old things are lethal. Not only do kids fall into them and get banged up, but also one girl got her hair caught and got hurt. New chairs are for comfort, stacking convenience, and above all, safety.

(In addition to new chairs, Takotna received funding for their 4th graders to go on the district trip to Anchorage)

Blair heard about the Igivearod from teachers along the trail

A few hundred miles into the race, teachers started hugging me in villages. “We haven’t been able to buy new glue sticks in six months, but now my classroom will have a garden and a project to get girls into engineering!” One woman told me. I happy cried all the way up the Yukon. 

A Grayling teacher was able to meet Blair when she passed through

I was that teacher and the #UglyDogs generosity has meant and will mean so much to our school. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

(Grayling got books, 12 iPads, engineering kits, a smart globe, and gardening supplies. They’re able to buy glue sticks now!)

Blair heard about the full impact when she made it to Nome

You BEAUTIFUL #UglyDogs. I can’t even wrap my head around the lives that will change thanks to this generosity. So much creativity and talent and passion in the villages- I know your gifts will be a springboard for incredible work for rural Alaskan kids. You are all my heroes.

The final total for IGiveARod was over $110,000

OMG! Wow. I have no idea how this is possible. Y’all are amazing, and you’re improving the educations and lives of kids all over AK. This is the greatest development of B’s race and an awesome tribute. We all dug deep. 

Some donations went to a school to help kids with disabilities learn life skills

  Dear (donor),

Thank you so much. My current students and future students will benefit greatly from the supplies. Maybe someday one of my students will be baking or cooking for a restaurant that you are eating at. I am very happy to have learned about DonorsChoose and for all of the donations. Alaska is at a time of financial uncertainly in our schools. Donations help every day life in our schools a little more exciting.

With gratitude, 

Mr. Asiala

Some donations helped feed students that otherwise would go hungry on the weekends

HUGE THANKS to #uglydogs for getting TWO of my DonorsChoose projects across the finish line. My students will be so excited to see the boxes arrive & the kids we provide for will be so thankful.

Many schools asked for donations to buy essential STEM learning equipment

I am beyond words for being able to express my gratitude for the outpouring of support from #UglyDogs for my DonorsChoose projects. You are all unbelievably generous and supportive. Thank you so very much for supporting public education. (heart) #IGiveARod #gratitude #Alaska

other links

Thank You Notes (by @ford_frog)

View thank you notes from teachers and students helped by #igivearod – IGIVEAROD THANKS TUMBLR

Map of Funded School Sites

30 Alaskan towns across the state! GOOGLE MAP

Send a postcard!

Students in Alaska would love to receive postcards showing your little slice of the world!

Tok School 1st/2nd Grade Class

P.O. Box 249

Tok, Alaska 99780

Rogers Park Elementary

C/O Jennifer Bowes

1400 East Northern Lights Blvd

Anchorage, Alaska 99508

Miss Angela’s Class DLMS

PO Box 90

Grayling, AK. 99590

Articles about Igivearod


Blair Braverman’s #UglyDogs are doing beautiful things for Alaska schools

DogWorks Radio

Iditarod 2019: Ugly Dogs

Twitter Moment

 The 30-year-old musher finished her first ever Iditarod race to a wave of support from her enthusiastic fanbase, who call themselves Ugly Dogs. While she was competing, the Ugly Dogs raised more than $70,000 for schools along the competition trail.

Seavey’s Ididaride Commentary

 Today’s awesome #Iditarod story  #igivearod is about to surpass $100,000 in donations to Alaskan schools.  Thanks Danny Seavey!

Today Show (NBC)

Rookie musher and her #UglyDogs raise money for students

Anchorage Daily News

‘It’s kind of a miracle’: #UglyDogs group helps raise more than $100K for Alaska schools during Iditarod