Only three days after going online to plead for help, four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Lance Mackey has the $10,000 he says he needs to go to rehab.
An iconic member of the Iditarod fraternity, the 50-year-old musher found himself this year outed by an Iditarod drug test that discovered he’d become a meth head. Well known as a significant consumer of marijuana and alcohol, Mackey used the news of the positive test for methamphetamine to confess he has a drug problem.
Not long after doing that, he turned to GoFundMe to raise the funds the “Mackey Family” said would be used to help him get clean.
An appeal apparently written by wife Jenne, said “we’re making arrangements for him to be in a program for at least 30 days, starting within the next several weeks, during which time the kennel will still need to run, dogs and handlers be cared for, and Jenne and kids have expenses covered.
“We never like to ask for help like this, but we just aren’t in the position to do any different, and the smallest amounts help immensely. Lance has been strong, kind, giving for so many years, even while often battling his own demons. We are so grateful for all those who wish to help him and our family out now, during this crucial time.”
Both mushing fans and mushers rallied to support the Fairbanks musher. Former competitor Mitch Seavey from Sterling, another Iditarod champ, chipped in $100, as did Brent Sass, an Iditarod veteran and former winner of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.
Mackey finished 21st in this year’s race and collected the $1,049 prize given all the also-rans. He was, however, forced to forfeit both the money and his finishing position after his urine test came back positive for meth.
“While this is a very unfortunate event, we hope this disqualification will be a turning point in spurring Lance on the trail to recovery,” Iditarod Board President Mike Mills later said in a carefully worded written statement. “The health of Lance is our top priority. He is one of our Iditarod heroes who is going through a tough time in his life. Most of us have been touched by addiction in some way, and we realize how painful it can be on friends and family and how very difficult addiction can be to overcome.”
The Iditarod has not said whether Mackey will be allowed back if he chooses to race next year. Mills’ name did not appear among the dozens of Mackey contributors on GoFundMe, but there were many anonymous donations.
Most of the contributions appeared be $20 to $200 contributions from longtime Iditarod fans.