Local man competes in Iditarod race

March 11, 2010 5:08:42 PM PST
A Park Ridge man has realized a dream of competing in the Iditarod sled dog race but is lucky to be alive after a crash.

Tuesday night Pat Moon's wife, Melanie, got a call that Moon was in a bad way. So Melanie is once again headed back to his side.

The pets rejoice in Melanie Moon's brief return to their lair where a man who has a wife that allows him to chase his dreams will return.

Pat Moon set off with a team of 16 dogs for the 1,150 mile journey from Anchorage to Nome that is the Iditarod, a celebration of the northern life as a test of the human spirit. He was doing it while suspending treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

"The Iditarod to dog sledding is what the World Series is to baseball. It's the pinnacle of professional careers," said Pat Moon.

On Tuesday, about three days in, he hit a tree at 18 miles per hour in an Alaskan valley and was found unconscious by a Belgian musher.

"My first thought is I want to be with him and then my second thought is his injuries, the third thought is how disappointed is he going to be," said Melanie Moon.

Moon called Melanie from the hospital but is already preparing for depression, something his wife, who is heading back to Alaska next week to watch the end of the race with him, is prepared for. After all, the couple has been essentially separated as he retreated to the backwoods of Michigan last October with nine dogs to get ready for Alaska.

"He relies on the dogs for his safety and the dogs rely on him for their safety, so the bond just becomes really close," said Melanie Moon.

Moon has a sponsorship deal with the kennel that owns the huskies. But beyond that, Melanie, an English teacher, supports his quest which she and his doctors think is part of his way of fighting cancer.

"They never told him not to do it. They never said it was a good idea for him to do it. And I think they just felt a little bit like I did, that it was a little bit of mind over matter," said Melanie Moon.

"It was important to me that she rode the sled to the start line with me, so every picture there is of me going to the start she's right there because without her support this would not have been possible," said Pat Moon.

The cost to enter the race is $35,000.

Moon was raised in Edison Park and graduated from St. Ignatius College Prep and Loyola University.