|Believe, achieve, and determination are key words that describe a special South Dakotan. Billy Mills is an Olympic gold medal champion. He was the recipient of the gold medal for the 10,000-meter race. No other American runner has ever won this honor.
Mills is an accomplished Native American. He is an Oglala Lakota (Sioux) who was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Life was not always easy for Billy. When he was twelve, both his parents died. This left Billy orphaned and under the supervision of his older siblings. Billy ran to clear his mind and to cope with living in poverty. Billy was sent to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Kansas. Later he attended the University of Kansas on a full scholarship, where he won consecutive NCAA All-American honors in cross country. He graduated with a degree in education. Later he joined the United States Marines.
This practically unknown 26-year-old runner from South Dakota competed in the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. To prepare for the Olympics, he ran up to 100 miles a week. Billy qualified for the 10,000-meter race and the marathon, but he was not expected to win either event. Billy shocked the world when he came up from behind to win the gold medal in the 10,000-meter race. He “ran like the wind." At the time, he set a world record of 28 minutes and 24.4 seconds.Today Billy is the national spokesperson of Running Strong. He works hard to inspire the next generations of Native Americans. Through his charity, he has helped many people who were once like him and has raised over 100 million dollars. His charity has helped Eagle Butte and Pine Ridge Indian Reservations in South Dakota. It has created organic gardening opportunities for many people that live on the reservations. Running Strong has also created two dialysis clinics, all to empower the lives of Native Americans. It is notable that Billy Mills and his charity care about the people of South Dakota. He is someone we can all admire for his achievements and determination. Billy always remembered what his father told him - to live his life like a warrior and believe in himself: "Find your positive desires, with desire comes self motivation, with self motivation comes work, and with work comes success."
|Home Town (Pine Ridge, SD)|