My name is Nicole Forto. I was born in Littleton, Colorado. When I was young my family and I were sprint mushers with a kennel of 36 dogs. I participated in my first mushing race when I was 3 years old. I was hooked on mushing from that point forward. Even though I was young and small I was allowed in the kennel on one condition, my best friend Ineka was always there to protect me from the other dogs as I wandered around with my cookies and juice box. The love I shared with Ineka was inseparable he inspired me to want to help animals developing my dream to become a veterinarian; by the time I was 6 years old I knew what I wanted to do in the future and how to get there.
Starting in middle school I was ahead of the game maintaining a 3.5-3.8 GPA while helping with the family dog training business. I completed Dog Works Training Centers, Co.’s Canine Communications course and Canine First-Aid/CPR course receiving a certificate in Dog Training/Canine First-Aid CPR at the age of 12. Then one summer day my whole life was altered by the simple words from my dad, “We’re going to look at a house in Alaska and you will be making the decision whether we move or not.”
I boarded a plane with my dad for the first time; going to a whole new world that I was dead set on saying no to; until….I saw Alaska stepping out of the airport, I was instantly in love. Later that day with a check on the table and text to my mom saying; “We’re moving to Alaska!” My whole life and future had changed in an instant. Upon returning to Colorado the most tragic thing in my life occurred, my best friend, my rock in life, Ineka passed away. After a long grieving process I realized that it was all for the best because Ineka is still, always there pushing me to go farther, to go a little harder, that I will always be amazing to him.
Helping my dad carry on the legacy of my best friend just felt right; the first time being out on the sled here in Willow, it was an instant feeling that Ineka was out there in front of my team encouraging me that I can do anything. Mushing is not my only sport I am a catcher on my high school’s softball team (Houston High School) and on our first away trip down to the peninsula I realized that being a veterinarian wasn’t my calling. The minute I saw the ocean I knew marine biology is what I am meant to do. From that point on, I’ve set myself in the right direction taking science class after science class, taking every opportunity to apply for and earn scholarships, always with Ineka on my mind. I will be graduating in 2015 and starting my college career in August of 2015 with hopes of attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa earning a Master’s in Marine Biology with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education.
In February 2014 I participated in my second distance mushing race. I took the Red Lantern in the 2014 Junior Iditarod with Team Ineka, a borrowed sled and a borrowed parka. My goal was to complete this race with 10 happy and healthy dogs, which I did. In fact, I had a few leader issues and ended up trying out a dog who had only tried lead once before on our training trails. Aussie proved to be a huge asset to my team and lead us to the finish!
I would appreciate your consideration for sponsorship or donation towards my 2015 Junior Iditarod race participation. I would be honored to be considered for possible scholarship opportunities and welcome any information and advice you can share in that process.
I am currently looking forward to softball season as a Junior and varsity catcher for Houston High School. As well as, what might be the beginning of many elementary school tours, as I write this letter today, I participated in my first school tour at Willow Elementary where I discussed my Junior Iditarod experiences and read a children’s’ book: A Mushers Dream written by Robert and Michele Forto (my parents) featuring ME!
Thank you for your consideration and for the opportunity to share with you a little bit about myself and my goals.
Alaska Dog Works | The Upholstery Gallery