How Persistence Breeds Success Rachael Scdoris is the central character in Rick Steber’s ‘No End in Sight,’ the true story of a nearly blind girl who overcame great odds to become an accomplished sled dog ‘musher.’ By applying her passion for competition, she was able to join a team and become one of the best professional sled dog racers in the world – and the only one who is legally blind.
Certainly there were missteps and mishaps along the way, teaching her that keeping up wasn’t as important as staying safe while competing. She overcame frostbite, freezing temperatures and crashes including one that dragged her a quarter of a mile.
While mushing was her passion, she also excelled in high school track and field events. Yes, there were special provisions; but with proper guidance, her courage, passion and obvious athleticism allowed Rachael to press on.
Her story of perseverance and persistence took her to and through the qualifying rounds and application criteria for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. “No blind girl could possibly take care of her own dogs,” said some. And while the American Disabilities Act did not apply to the Ididerod competition, she pursued an accommodation or full race escort in 1994.
She learned the value of teamwork by working with a partner who would serve as her race escort. Since then she has experienced several situations where being blind posed real risks on the trail - the Alaska outback is unforgiving, particularly when she is separated from her leader or escort.
Nutrition was another important aspect of her success. Like most high school athletes her diet was not balanced, but she was inspired by a high school coach who preached the value of nutrition. On the Iditarod trail, Rachel carries fruits, vegetables, meat and a zip lock bag filled with chocolate milk for recovery - and cheesecake for a pick-me-up.
Rachael trains no differently than any other athlete. Every morning she ran for five miles, training dogs on the desert in four wheelers. The value of her partner and her dogs fed her enthusiasm to participate. Her connection to ‘team’ extended from her various sled dog mentors to the 24 dogs that pulled her sled through the Alaskan wilderness from Nome to Anchorage.
Goals are set and met by people of all walks in life. The sled dog race that started as a medical mission at the turn of the century to transport diphtheria serum now provides a way for Rachael Scdoris to follow her dream and show others that almost anything can be achieved if given the proper doses of persistence, determination and the drive to win.
Rachael hopes that her story can serve to inspire others, or propel those with disabilities into a new course of action, or make a significant impact on a young person. She believes that through hope, courage and determination each of us can overcome any obstacle in life.