This fall, Dirk Whitebreast, a 31-year-old member of Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, plans to run 10 marathons in 30 days, a total of 262 miles, and he is dedicating the money he raises to the Center for Native American Youth. To learn more and support Dirk’s run you can donate on the Center’s website at www.aspeninstitute.org/dirksrun or by clicking here.
On March 28, 2003, Dirk suffered the tragic loss of his beautiful 18-year-old sister, Darcy Jo Keahna, to suicide. Since that day Dirk has committed himself to a healthier lifestyle, stopping the use of alcohol, becoming an avid runner as well as a leader in his community by serving as Secretary of his tribal council.
The rates of Native youth suicide are as high as 3.5 times the national average, reaching epidemic levels in many tribal communities. Combating the high rates of Native youth suicide is at the core of the Center’s work on Native youth issues.
“It is people like Dirk that can give Native American youth hope. Through Dirk’s run and the Center, we will reach out to youth and give them hope,” says Center’s founder, former US Senator Byron Dorgan.
Dirk was touched by the Center’s mission to improve the lives of Native youth and efforts to raise the awareness of the tragedy of suicide in Indian Country. This is why Dirk reached out to the Center and wants the organization to benefit from his 262 mile run. Beginning September 17, 2011, Dirk will take on the challenge of running 10 marathons in 30 days and he will do it in support of the Center for Native American Youth.
“My story ties directly into what the Center for Native American Youth is all about. I am motivated by the organization’s mission and excited that through my running we can spread hope to Native youth,” Dirk said.
Running is an important part of Native culture for many tribes. Through his 10 marathon journey, Dirk sets an example of cultural awareness, health, motivation, hard work and leadership for all young people in Indian Country.
“We are excited to work with Dirk, share his inspirational story of running and healthy living with Native youth, tribal leaders, and other organizations, and most importantly to honor the life of Darcy Jo Keahna,” says the Center’s director Erin Bailey.
For more information or to support Dirk’s 262 Mile Run to Support Native Youth please visit www.aspeninstitute.org/dirksrun. The list of marathons Dirk is registered for is as follows:
The North Face Endurance Challenge – Madison, WI
September 17th, 2011 ** Run is actually in Eagle, WI
Community First Fox Cities Marathon – Appleton, WI
September 18th, 2011
American Birkebeiner Trail Run – Hayward, WI
September 24th, 2011
The Quad Cities Marathon – Moline, IL
September 25th, 2011
Freedom’s Run Marathon – Shepherdstown, WV
October 1st, 2011
Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon – Milwaukee, WI
October 2nd, 2011
Prairie State Marathon – Libertyville, IL
October 8th, 2011
Bank of America Chicago Marathon – Chicago, IL
October 9th, 2011
Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon – Kansas City, MO
October 15th, 2011
IMT Des Moines Marathon – Des Moines, IA
October 16th, 2011
– Center for Native American Youth