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Olympian Billy Mills still ‘Running Strong’

Billy Mills crossing thefinish line and winning the gold at the 1964 Olympics

Billy Mills crossing thefinish line and winning the gold at the 1964 Olympics

WASHINGTON – On October 14, 2018, fifty-four years to the day after winning Olympic gold in what has been repeatedly named the greatest race of all time, Oglala Lakota (Sioux) runner Billy Mills announced the fifth year of the Dreamstarter grant program to help American Indian youth bring their dreams to life. Ten native youth with projects around the theme of entrepreneurship will receive $10,000 grants from Running Strong for American Indian Youth to complete a project inspired by their dreams for themselves and their communities.

“The urgency to prepare our tribal youth in the arena of entrepreneurship is among the most important economic development challenges we face,” said Mills, who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

“The businesses of the future that commit to living their values ethically, morally, and legally while protecting their bottom line and develop a strong sense of social responsibility will become the brand names of the 21st and 22nd centuries,” he added.

“This is the goal and dream I have for our tribal youth who choose entrepreneurship as their contribution to their communities.”

On October 14, 1964, Billy Mills won the 10,000 meter race at the Tokyo Olympics in an upset, come-from-behind victory that ever since has been an inspiration to Native youth and all Americans. He is still the only person from the Western hemisphere ever to win that event. He co-founded Running Strong for American Indian Youth to help others live their dreams.

Through the Dreamstarter program, Running Strong will give away fifty $10,000 grants over the five-year period to support Native youth’s dreams for their communities. Youth apply in partnership with community nonprofits to implement the programs. At the end of the grant period, Running Strong will choose five projects to be eligible for an additional $50,000 grant.

Mills and Running Strong have named forty Dreamstarters in the first four years of the program. Previous years have awarded grants to projects that centered around the themes of “Wellness,” “Arts and Culture,” “Education,” and “Science and the Environment.” Successful

Dreamstarters have come from communities and Tribal nations across the United States, and have ranged in age from 14 to 29. Projects have included a mentorship program for young Native dental students, a wheelchair basketball camp for Native youth with disabilities, a Hupa Language camp for children, and many more.

Co-founded by Mills in 1986, Running Strong for American Indian Youth brings local expertise together with the support of thousands of donors and supporters to create healthier, happier, and more hopeful futures for American Indian youth.

(Additional information about the grant program, including application information, can be found at Dreamstarter.)

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