I'll never forget the words dad spoke to me on the first Saturday of March in 1979. I was beginning an epic journey across Alaska on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. At 18 years of age, it was the first year I could compete in the grueling 1,100-mile journey. Men three times my age and tougher than nails were gathered around me. Some had predicted I'd have to scratch from the race and others intimated I'd die on the way to Nome, Alaska. The test in front of me was brutal without a doubt. Fear would creep in at times during the months of training leading up to the start. But here I was, staring down the trail that would lead me into danger as I'd never really imagined.
It was at the very moment I was ready to pull the snow hook that anchored my team and sled that my dad said he needed to talk with me. He prayed for me and then over the noise of my dogs barking and lunging to hit the trail he said, "Son, I already have my plane ticket to Nome, I'll see you when you get there." A little over 21 days later I made it to Nome, Alaska. Because of my dad's few but powerful words, it never dawned on me that I couldn't make it. Dad gave me a gift of manhood at the start of a race that shaped my life.
Every boy needs to be spoken words of life into their heart. My friend, Robert Lewis, encourages dads to tell their sons three essential things and to do it often. I've handed off manhood to my son, and you can do it too. It'll help carry them through the race of life!
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