In the winter of 1925, the city of Nome, Alaska, was stricken with diphtheria. There were not enough supplies to combat the illness, nor were any supplies able to be brought in from outside. An amazing effort was undertaken by several sled dog teams and mushers, to bring the life-saving serum from Nenana over 600 miles to Nome. On February 2, 1925, Gunnar Kaasen was first in the serum run to reach Nome.
A bronze statue was erected at Central Park in New York City, honoring the lead dog of Gunnar Kaasen’s team, named “Balto”. The epitaph upon the statue is:
“Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice, across treacherous waters, through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of a stricken Nome in the winter of 1925. Endurance — fidelity — intelligence.”