Matthew Paveglio, originally from Manitou Beach, Michigan, is a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at Alaska Regional Hospital where he’s worked since January 2016. Although he wasn’t born and raised in the 49th state, after starting a family here, he now considers Alaska his “forever home.” The state sport — dog mushing — is arguably a large part of that. For Matt, there’s a sense of pride that comes along with the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and he’s proud to be part of preserving history!

The last 20 years, Matt has taken care of patients who have often had their best years stolen from them due to injury and illness. “I realize more now that we need to make the most of our moments and the Iditarod is the opportunity for me to live that spirit,” Matt said. “Mushing makes me feel more alive than ever!”

Although Matt has had a passion for mushing for years, the last couple of particularly challenging years spurred by COVID-19, were the motivation he needed to kick training into high gear and strive to compete as a rookie in the 2022 running of the Iditarod. After witnessing the harsh realities of the pandemic inside the ER, Matt says being able to get outdoors and connect with nature has been good for the soul. And, he’s not the only one who’s benefitted from training for the Iditarod.

“I talk about the dogs a lot in the Emergency Room. They’re a calming influence. Just the sounds of them calm people down,” Matt explained, adding that oftentimes he shows patients videos of his dogs to distract them frightening or painful procedures. “They’re loving. They’re just fun.”

Aside from COVID-19, to say that Matt has experienced his fair share of tragedy in recent years is arguably an understatement. In August 2021, Matt’s mother, DeLynn, passed away after a battle with Ovarian Cancer. She, too, was an RN who dedicated her life to the healing and healthcare of others. In honor of his mother’s life and legacy, you will often see and hear Matt refer to his mushing team as “Team DEEtermined.”

In honor of DeLynn and Matt’s dedication to thousands of patients, follow along on the nearly 1,000-mile journey stretching from Anchorage to Nome. We are excited to celebrate him, this incredible accomplishment, and all the good news along the way! We’ll bring you updates from Matt & his crew on Facebook and Twitter too, so don’t miss out!