(03/14/13) - A Mid-Michigan man competing in Alaska's Iditarod race has inspired school children in his hometown.
While James Volek is mushing his dogs on the course, Birch Run students are reading books and helping the less fortunate.
Volek is in his first Iditarod race, and children at North Elementary are paying close attention. Because March is National Reading Month, school administrators decided to combine the excitement of Iditarod with the fun of reading.
"They're very excited. In fact, our local librarian up at Fleschner Memorial Library said the children are flocking in there. They want anything they can find on the Iditarod, on Alaska, so it definitely has made a difference to have such a connection," said Heidii Periard, North Elementary principal.
When the Birch Run students heard that many children in that part of Alaska live in poverty, they decided to help.
"One of the things we decided to do was to collect gently used books to send to the towns along the Iditarod," Periard said.
Dozens of books were collected and placed on a dog sled in the gym. The students are excited about Volek's homecoming plans.
"He'll be back in town mid-April. Our plan is right now he'll be visiting the children here, sharing with them his experiences with the Iditarod," Periard said.
Volek has promised to bring some of the snow booties his race dogs wear and lots of pictures.
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