Balto

by Makayla from Riley

Balto before the race
Balto before the race

It all started on a cold night in December of 1924, when a two year old boy from the native village in Nome displayed the symptoms of diphtheria, a very contagious disease. The boy died the next morning. Because the port of Nome had closed for the winter, the antitoxin they had ordered in the summer of 1924 had not arrived. All they had was left from 1913 and was out of date. All this started the Serum run, and created the legendary Balto. Balto is inspirational because he started off lazy and he ended up a hero.

The disease was known as diphtheria, a serious bacterial infection. You can catch it from people that are contagious or from a sneeze or cough. It usually affects the nose and the throat, causes a bad sore throat, swollen glands, fever, and chills. If it is not properly treated it produces a poison in the body that can cause serious complications such as heart failure or paralysis. In December 1924 there was an abnormally large amount of children that were diagnosed and unfortunately didn't make it. In January 1925 there were at least 20 confirmed cases and 50 more at risk. Dr. Welch sent out a telegram to the U.S. Army's Signal Corps to alert all major towns in Alaska, and the Governor Scott C. Bone.

During the Serum Rum there was about 23 teams, they split into sections along the distance from Nenana to Nome. Most teams ran about 20 to 50 miles, but Togo and his team (Leonhard Sappala) traveled 91 miles. Togo's team was the 17th dog team to take the serum (antitoxin) but he wasn't at his hand off spot in time, so the team that (Henry Ivanoff) was supposed to hand it off to Leonhard Sappala, kept going until his team was tangled with a lost reindeer. Sappala then found them and took the serum while Ivanoff untangled his team. Sappala started running in temperatures of -85 degrees Fahrenheit. He then handed the antitoxin to Charlie Olson.

Balto and his owner Leohnard Sapala
Balto and his owner Leohnard Sapala

Then off to the 3rd to last runner Gunner Kassen He waited for the storm to settle, but it only got worse. With Balto as the lead dog, he wasn't sure if he could keep going. But he did. At 10:00 P.M. that night, he made it to the hand off position but passed by it and kept going. But it got so rough that the sled tipped over and the antitoxin fell out. He took off his gloves and found it again. He kept going even with frostbite on his hands; his next stop was Ed Rohn's. When Kassen ran by, Ed was sleeping and Gunner choose not to wake him and kept going. Kassen made it back to Nome at 5:30 a.m., he pulled up by the bank and the early risers heard him stumble up to Balto and say "Damn fine dog".

Balto pushed himself through 80 mph winds, low temperatures, and after missing two hand offs. He went a total of 54 miles without even being a lead dog. Balto knew what he had to do and pushed himself to do so. He went further than was expected of him. You can't underestimate anyone because you never know what they can do. Togo, also being able to push himself 91 miles, set a standard for Balto to at least get his own part done. Balto is an inspirational dog because he started off lazy but he ended up being a hero.

Page created on 9/30/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 9/30/2013 12:00:00 AM

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Extra Info



I traveled 170 miles
I was lazy
I'm
One of a kind
The
Weather was strong but I pushed through it all
My
Name is Balto and I'm one of a kind