Evanston native, experienced dog musher inspires students

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EVANSTON, Ill. -- It was a warm welcome home for Evanston native Hugh Neff.

Students lined the hallways of St. Athanasius and cheered on the alum as he returned to the school where his dreams were born to celebrate the accomplishments he’s conquered..

Today Hugh is the most travelled dog musher in the world.  He has nine Iditarod’s under his belt and 14 Yukon Quests.  Just this past February “The Gypsy Musher” as he is called, won his second thousand mile quest with his dog George Costanza leading the pack.

“George is a pretty amazing dog,” High said.  “He was my leader when I won four years ago and my leader when I won this year too.”

Now in his off-season George and Hugh travel the world promoting passion: Passion for life, passion for health, passion for exploring.

“A lot of people want to live to be old but if you live to be old and you haven’t done anything why live that long?”  he said.  “You really have to have an energy and passion for what you’re doing everyday.”

At nearly 50, the Loyola Academy alum and U of I grad is just getting started.  Each year he covers 3,000 – 4,000 miles with his cherished dogs.

And along for the ride is a children’s book in his sled.  He races promoting literacy and education.

Books ignited Hugh’s love of Alaska. He’s even written one himself, told from the point of view of his dogs.

Hugh hopes his experiences, his stories and his drive to succeed spark a love in kids across the world.