In last year's Aurora 50/50 Mapes' team was hit by a snowmachine. (Dan Carpenter/KTUU-DT)

In last year's Aurora 50/50 Mapes' team was hit by a snowmachine. (Dan Carpenter/KTUU-DT)

Our Fund the Future scholarship winner this month is a dog musher from Knik who hates cold weather but runs distance races like the Junior Iditarod.

For most of Meredith Mapes' young life, she's been leashed to a sense of responsibility.

She always knew she couldn't run from it, but could go with it.

"It's like an addiction. Like once it gets in your blood you can't get it out again?. I've dreamt about running dogs," Meredith says.

She started at 6 years old. Back then the team was bigger than she was. It still is.

And because of that she knows she couldn't do it herself.

"I'm the handler. I am the driver. I load up the car and hook them up," her mother, Marilyn Mapes, said.

Her parents keep her in line and give a nudge that sometimes feels like a push.

"They drive me crazy sometimes but I've always had them to fall back on," Meredith says of her parents.

Her mom, who is a surgical technician, says she probably could have paid for an Ivy League education with all the money she tied into dog mushing.

She now plans to go back to work full time to pay for Meredith's college tuition.

"You have to want to do it to begin with, because there's a lot of work involved. There's a lot of hard work involved. There's a lot of expense involved, a lot of time involved. And not a lot of time for other things. There's a lot of sacrifice that she's done for many years to be able to do this," Marilyn said.

But Meredith's sacrifices didn't catch up to her-- they crashed into her.

A snowmachine collided with her sled last winter while running in the Aurora 50/50.

"They just blew right through my team," Meredith said.

Four dogs got loose. The leader of the team broke his leg and Meredith scratched the race.

"It was overwhelming. I was definitely in shock," she said.

"I think she's still recovering from it a year later," her mom said.

"The same race is coming up in another week and she's actually not going to run it this year."