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As it turns out, Amanda reached her goal with about seven months to spare.

“My dad made a chore chart and put it on the door, and each chore was worth 25 cents,” Amanda says. “I also did odd jobs for neighbors to earn more money, and I had some money left over from my birthday and Christmas.”

Amanda says she chose dog sledding in part because she “thinks huskies are neat,” and she wanted to see the home of the Iditarod dog race. While Amanda was keeping busy raising money for her adventure, Tom was on the Internet fi guring out just how it would work for his daughter to learn about dog racing in Alaska.

During his research, Tom found information on a nine-time Iditarod trail veteran, mushing coach and dog trainer named Dario Martinez, who agreed to meet Amanda and teach her about dog sledding. After just two months of hard work, Amanda says she met her goal of raising $300 for the training session and gear she would need. Her parents sprung for the airfare, and during her spring break, Amanda fl ew by herself to Alaska, met her father who had traveled there ahead of her, and the two went to meet Martinez.

“He taught me about the original dogs he had used in sledding and the new dogs he was using now. We went on his sled, and he taught me the commands to use, and I sat in front while Dario called them out to the dogs,” Amanda says. “We went on a straight ride in a National Forest, and after the ride we went to the kennels to see the puppies. Then we went on a special trail for me with

Submitted photo

MUSH: Amanda McCloud, a student at Jacobson Elementary, learned to drive a dog sled on money she earned from doing chores. She made the Alaska trip with her dad, Tom.

real Iditarod dogs. I was so happy, I just couldn’t believe it.”

As a bonus, Amanda says the trip coincided with the annual Iditarod race. She and her dad got to

see part of the race and enjoyed being in the festive atmosphere, taking the time to also go hiking in the Chugach National Forest and explore crevices in frozen glaciers.

So, what’s next for Amanda?

“I’m thinking about getting my scuba license, but I have to wait until I’m 12, so for now, I’m thinking about Russia,” she says, adding that she’d like to travel there with a webcam to send back images to an ill child who also wants to visit Russia but can’t make the trip.

Amanda’s mother, Amy McCloud, says both she and Tom are incredibly proud of their daughter. “It really is awesome. Several years ago we lost her little brother, and she’s very aware of other people, and she’s very adventurous. I always tell her that if she does nothing else in life but do her best, go forward and help people, she will be happy.” Amanda is also writing a book for kids with step- by-step instructions on how they, too, can meet any goal they set for themselves.

“They need to think of the things they really like to do, and then pick something, and then work towards it, save money, print out pictures of what they want and then accomplish it. All you need to do is keep working towards your goal.”

Alison Stanton is a freelance writer who lives in the East Valley. She can be reached at


June 4 - 17, 2011


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