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Alaska Regional nurse Matt Paveglio is mushing for his mom, hoping to spread her ashes under the burled arch in Nome

Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 1:57 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Matt Paveglio is an emergency room nurse at Alaska Regional Hospital, but he is also a rookie musher running in the 50th Iditarod with a special mission: to honor his mother by spreading her ashes near the finish line.

Just after Paveglio signed up for the 50th Iditarod, he flew back to Michigan to help take care of his mother, Dee, who had ovarian cancer. Paveglio was there for his mom, who was also a nurse, all throughout the month of July before she passed away in August of 2021.

“There is definitely some grief and some loss, but it was a very sweet organic experience being there for your mom” Paveligo said.

Now in his rookie run, Paveglio is going to be carrying some of his mother’s ashes along with him on the trail in hopes to spread them around the finish line to honor his mothers memory, Even though Paveglio will be solo with his dog team for most of the trail, he won’t really be alone.

“I downloaded the playlist from her celebration of life and I’ll be a mess when I listen to that, it’ll be fantastic” Paveglio said as he fought through emotions.

Paveglio has been mushing for six years and got into the sport by helping Jim Lanier out around the yard. He now runs out of Shameless Huskies Kennel run by Kathleen Frederick, who Paveglio says has been critical in getting him to this point in his mushing career.

As an emergency room nurse, Paveglio has been trained to see situations differently than most people, and that helps him when it comes to the many different situations that you encounter while out on the trail. During the pandemic — day in and day out Paveglio is faced with life altering decisions when it comes to patient care — something he said is no easy task.

“Nothing is harder in my opinion than nursing in a global pandemic. It is absolutely the hardest thing that I have ever seen” Paveglio said.

Mushing has helped Paveglio cope with not only the loss of his mom, but also the stresses of being on the front line of the pandemic. Paveglio wears a shirt that says he is “DEE-termined” to get to the finish line of The Last Great Race not only to accomplish the greatest feat in mushing, but also to honor his mother.

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