Day 63: Gratitude for the Serum Run

Statue of Balto in Central Park (New York City)

Statue of Balto in Central Park (New York City)

My gratitude today goes to the memory of the brave people and their dogs who ran the Great Serum Run to Nome Alaska in 1925. If you spend anytime on planet earth in recent years, you would think human life is of little value and the economy is the biggest disaster on the planet.

When I worked in a lab, I worked with doctors who were there because they were avoiding fulfilling their obligations to work in rural areas in exchange for their educations being paid by the taxpayers. They complained of the price of malpractice insurance, lived in expensive new homes, earned buckets of money working in emergency wards nights and weekends and slept on their lab benches during the day. The poor people in the mountains of Appalachia or rural Texas died in childbirth with their infants because the doctors promised them never appeared. But, I won’t dwell on the reality of the medical profession or the AMA country club mentality; because providing health care is not as important as a strong Wall Street.

So, when I think of recent history, when a city isolated by thousands of miles of frozen Alaska and facing a diptheria epidemic, I am in awe of the humanity. I think of Doctor Curtis Welch and his four nurses facing an epidemic alone. Dr. Welch arrived in Alaska in 1906 from Los Angeles. After the Gold Rush ended, he was the only doctor remaining in the area and he diagnosed the disease Diphtheria and notified the U.S. Department of Health, which initiated the Great Serum Run. Anchorage had the only source of the serum, Dr. JB Beeson had 30,000 units of serum and he packaged the serum and sent it via train to the beginning of the Iditarod Trail, a 938 mile trail through the frigid winter wilderness.

That there was this much risk and sacrifice for Native American lives in 1925 was a true testimonial to their humanity, because this wasn’t the case in the rest of the country.

The Iditarod race still fascinates me and I support and admire the efforts and participants. It is not without controversy but I know for a fact that these dogs are athletes and absolutely love what they are doing. Much like marathons and the Olympics, the race has members who fill you with pride and bring you to tears.

Read More:
1925 Serum Run
Doctor Curtis Welch
Doctor JB Beeson
People of the Iditarod