ALEXANDRIA, VA – The White House has announced that Olympic champion, role model and humanitarian Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota) is going to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal next week. Mills is the National Spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indian Youth, a non-profit with the mission of strengthening American Indian communities by creating opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem, particularly for native youth.
“I am humbled and honored to be recognized by the President in this extraordinary way,” said Mills. “The most powerful thing you can give to a child is a dream. I hope every child in Indian Country knows what is possible if you follow your dream.”
The Presidential Citizens Medal is the second highest civilian award in the United States, and is bestowed by the President of the United States. It recognizes individuals “who [have] performed exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens.”
Competing as a Marine during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Mills stunned the world when he ran a personal best by 46 seconds in the 10,000 meter final. His charge down the final straight-away produced a stunning come-from-behind victory and a new Olympic record.
To this day, Mills remains the only American to win the Gold Medal or be ranked #1 in the world in the 10,000 meters. He eventually set seven US Track & Field records and was co-holder of the six mile world record.
“In Lakota culture, someone who achieves great success has a ‘give away’ to thank the support system of family and friends who helped him achieve his goal,” said Lauren Haas Finkelstein, Running Strong’s executive director. “Billy has gone on to turn his life into an extended example of what it means to give back to the community. For decades, as Running Strong’s National Spokesperson he has traveled tirelessly to impart his message of inspiration and opportunity, based on dignity, character and pride, to American Indian children and their families.”
For more information about Running Strong: www.IndianYouth.org
– Running Strong for American Indian Youth