The crisp wind bites at Hannah’s nose as she glides through the opening ceremony of the Iditarod. A fresh blanket of snow fell last night, and the conditions are perfect. They round a corner, and the crowds cheer a little bit louder at sight of her sled.
With Iditarod veteran Ramey Smith at the helm, everything seems so easy to Hannah – the dogs pull her sled forward effortlessly and all thoughts of her life-threatening immune disorder fade into the distance.
This is what she has been waiting a lifetime for.
Hannah dreamt of traveling to Alaska to see the Iditarod forever, but that dream was put on hold when she was diagnosed. Before her eyes, the life she once had with normal routines and aspirations became a cyclical process of doctor visits and medical treatments. She struggled to keep a positive attitude throughout treatments; thoughts of adventure slowly faded.
But then she was given a glimmer of hope: a wish.
Her journey to the snowy state was not just as a spectator. No, she wanted the full experience. The team that sponsored her Iditarod experience made sure that she had - quite literally - a front row seat. Hannah mingled with other sled teams and played with the dogs before the race began. Even the toughest Iditarod competitors admired her strength.
For the first time in a long time, her condition didn’t define her.
(photos courtesy of Erik Kirkland/AKontheGO)