NU Online News Service, Dec. 7, 2004, 5:19 p.m. EST

A Portland, Ore., disability insurer is helping a legally blind Oregon resident compete in the Alaska Iditarod Sled Dog Race.[@@]

Standard Insurance Company, a unit of StanCorp Financial Group Inc., has agreed to back Rachael Scdoris, the Iditarod contestant, for at least 3 years.

Scdoris is believed to be the first blind athlete to compete in the race, Standard says.

Standard has set up a Web site for Scdoris at