DeeDee Jonrowe was born in
Frankfurt Germany in 1953 while her father was stationed
in Greece. Growing up in a military family, she began elementary
school in Ethiopia, attended junior high school in Okinawa,
Japan, and graduated from high school in Virginia. The military
brought the Stout family to Alaska in 1971. DeeDee enrolled
in the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, where she earned
a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences & Renewable Resources.
She worked as a biologist for the State of Alaska for 10
years. Her thirst for adventure encouraged her to strike
out, commercial fishing her own herring gill net boat in
Norton Sound, fishing for red salmon in Bristol Bay, and
eventually driving a 28 foot jet boat in Southcentral as
a sport fishing guide. Her present occupation is kennel
owner and dog racer.
She began mushing in 1979
and became interested in the Iditarod after her mother,
Peg, shared her interest in the race while DeeDee lived
in Bethel, Alaska.
DeeDee says, "I have had many successes and disappointments
in the past 30+ years but one element has remained consistent.
I have always tried to do my very best and I have always
enjoyed the special bond and love that I have shared with
my dogs. It has been my privilege to share this unique experience
with the volunteers and race fans.” She is particularily proud of having been recognized by the Vet staff in every major race she has been in for excellent dog care.
DeeDee has won numerous awards for the care of her dogs
throughout her career, including the best-cared for team,
the best dog care award (given by staff veterinarians),
the dog's best friend award, and the Iditarod’s Alaska
Airlines Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award for excellence
in dog care. Because her dogs are a top priority, she became
a founding member of Mush with PRIDE, which provides responsible
information of a dog's environment, exhibiting her commitment
to set the standards for all aspects of sled dog care.
She especially enjoys cross
country skiing, Labrador retrievers, running, in-line skating,
Ragdoll cats, horses, and recently has developed a passion
for her small flock of laying hens. DeeDee is married to
husband, Mike, who helps extensively in her training season.
DeeDee ran her first Iditarod
in 1980 and soon undertook a comprehensive breeding and
training program for her dogs, and a rigorous physical fitness
program for herself. By the time DeeDee and her team undertake
the Iditarod in March of each year, they have logged over
2000 miles of training together.
DeeDee Jonrowe is the foremost female dog musher competing
in the world today. She has both the fastest time of any
woman in the history of the Iditarod and 14 top ten finishes
in her career. Her second place finish in 1998 was the fifth
fastest Iditarod time ever recorded at that point. In addition
to the Iditarod, DeeDee has competed and won most major
dog sledding races throughout her career, including the
Copper Basin 300, Klondike 300 and the John Beargrease sled
Her highly publicized battle with breast cancer that she
began in 2002 has seen her become a tireless fundraiser.
In 2003 she became an honorary chairperson for the American
Cancer Society's Relay for Life, assisting the organization
in its fundraising efforts as well. DeeDee's humanitarian
efforts have been well-documented, having been given the
YWCA's "Alaska Woman of Achievement of Award",
the most inspirational musher award, and even as the spokesperson
for the National Girl Scouts Council and Winter Special
Olympics. In recent years DeeDee has been instrumental in raising funds for a service dog in rural Alaska to assist an autistic child, and working to improve alaskans access to cutting edge cancer treatments here in Alaska. She is particularily involved in breast cancer treatments, since unfortunately her family has been on the front lines of this battle. DeeDee says " we are still fighting for my mother's survival".
Her hobbies now include top quality english bred labador retrivers and working with her pekingnese as a service dog. She raised a litter of labadors last fall that produced one service dog that is currently alerting her owner of when he is sinking into a diabetic coma, one top gun dog retrieving pheasants in South Dakota with extraordinary expertise for her age, one that has taken best Winner's Dog in the AkC ring twice in the last 4 months, and one that is developing to be an interesting addition to her own sled dog program riding in the sled and participating with the team during training. It has been so interesting to have such a wonderful result from
a litter of 7 pups.
DeeDee enjoys running in the off seson, primarily trail and mountain running, she has played co-ed softball for the last 13 years, and competes in numerous triathlons including having competed in the Ironman at Kona in 2006.
DeeDee has been profiled in such media outlets as Sports
Illustrated, Redbook, and Outside magazines. She is a published
author, and is currently pending another book profiling
her comeback from cancer to race again.
Although DeeDee has run in and won many dog sled races,
the world renowned Iditarod is the race for which she is
DeeDee is no stranger to the physical, emotional, mental,
and spiritual challenges that life can bring. Her first
major experience came in October of 1996, when she was involved
in a fatal car accident which claimed the life of her grandmother,
and left husband Mike and her with life-threatening injuries.
DeeDee was trapped in a car, next to her now deceased grandmother,
at a frigid temperature of -20. In the back of the car,
DeeDee could hear the groans of her dear husband. The Jaws
of Life was needed to extricate her from the mangled vehicle,
and a waiting ambulance took her over 60 miles to the nearest
hospital. Emergency surgery repaired her ruptured intestine,
and a lengthy recovery ensued. Dear friends and fellow mushers
Susan Butcher and Roxy Wright helped train and keep her
dog team in condition so that DeeDee was able to compete
in the Iditarod in March 1997.
A few years later, DeeDee
faced another huge challenge. She was diagnosed with breast
cancer in July 2002 and underwent a double mastectomy followed
by months of harsh chemotherapy. Despite taking her last
dose of chemo in January, she started the Iditarod four
weeks later. It was nothing but sheer determination that
got her across the finish line in 18th position in Nome
Despite what has happened to her, DeeDee does not want to
be known as a victim, but rather a survivor. When she speaks
of the value of teamwork, persevering, or overcoming adversity,
she speaks from experience.
“I am 5 1/2 year cancer survivor and doing well. It
was quite a struggle. I have just entered my 27th Iditarod.
I still enjoy it as much as the very first day. My strength
is in my faith. I do not understand why things happen like
this but I believe it is an imperfect world, not the one
God intended for us. The really good thing in this all is
there are a lot of really tough and deep patients that have
done this and we are all here to help each other because
we need to do that. Whatever God gave you as a passion (the
thing you would do if you won the lottery) try to allow
yourself as much time in that area. Mine is my dogs and
being outside. I sometimes felt like a burden to my family
and friends but my dogs did not care, they love me however
I look or feel. God used them to comfort me and keep me
company when everyone else was busy. There are no easy roads
in this journey. The one thing I remember is that the storm
always clears up. It is still life-threatening all the same.”
DeeDee’s athletic involvement does not stop at being
a professional dog sled racer. She is an advocate of living
a healthy lifestyle no matter the season. Her love of running
and bike riding led her to pursue a dream of competing in
another venue. After months of hard training, DeeDee was
able to compete in the October, 2006 running of the Ironman
in Kona, Hawaii.
“As a competitor in the premier winter distance race,
the Iditarod, for 24 years, I understand the challenges
of such a physically demanding event,” said Jonrowe.
“I am participating in the Ironman as an athlete and
Iditarod musher, but also as a breast cancer survivor. Competing
in the Ironman provides me with a unique opportunity to
raise cancer awareness and to show that those dealing with
illness or major setbacks in life can overcome them to do
things they did not think possible.”
The Ironman World Championship in Kona is one of the most
recognized triathlons in the world. It features approximately
1,500 competitors and consists of a 2.4-mile ocean swim,
a 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile run. The Ironman is
considered one of the most difficult endurance races in
Since her diagnosis in 2002, Jonrowe has been a tireless
advocate for breast cancer awareness and cancer patient
care, through volunteer time and speaking engagements.
“As a cancer survivor, my passion is to help people
navigate the journey, not just the medical process,”
A documentary film based on
this experience, entitled “Ironwoman: The DeeDee Jonrowe
Story”, won the 2007 Best of Photojournalism award
with the Poynter Institute.
PUBLIC SPEAKING AND INVOLVEMENT
DeeDee has conducted public appearances and speaking engagements
for more than two decades. Among the topics she has addressed
are team building and dynamic team motivation, developing
professional skills to utilize media opportunities when they
occur, the value of perseverance, navigating through adversity,
personal motivation, visualizing success, dog care, dog mushing,
breast cancer topics, Alaska history, and spiritual inspiration.
An example of how she was able to call upon her story to encourage
cancer patients and promote an appropriate product was the
work she did in 2003-2006. She appeared as a motivational
speaker for the Eli-Lilly Company, traveling internationally
and nationally while promoting the new breast cancer medication
Gemzar. She equated the medication to a lead dog helping navigate
the patient’s personal team through the storms of a
The analogy allowed each audience member to personally relate
to her experiences and visualize their “team”,
which might include their oncologist, surgeon, laboratory
technician, support group leaders, and numerous other individuals
assisting them with surviving their storm.
Her personal passion for the culture of Alaska and how sled
dogs have played a critical role in opening the arctic was
the subject of her Enrichment Series that she presented during
the summer of 2008 aboard the Silver Sea Cruise Fleet sailing
in Southeast Alaska.
Over the years DeeDee has been involved in school appearances,
health and wellness seminars, community education, volunteerism,
corporate activities, children and youth church activities,
and of course, advocating the sport of dog sled racing.
A published author, her book
Iditarod Dreams, is available through various outlets. It
is based upon her earlier years as a hopeful Iditarod musher.
Currently, DeeDee is working on an IditaProject
internet forum for the Bering Sea school district. People
from all over the world log on to make comments and ask questions
of DeeDee and other mushers.
in inviting DeeDee to speak at your event?
DeeDee is available
for speaking engagements, appearances and sposor opportunities
throughtout the summer (usually from April to September).
ALL INQUIRIES REGARDING DEEDEE'S SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS,
APPEARANCES, AND SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES - PLEASE CONTACT:
Michael Barnes - BSG
(636) 933-0041 office
(636) 933-0048 fax
10516 Glen Oaks Drive
Festus, MO 63028