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School District 166 hosts Olympian Billy Mills

Olympian Billy Mills spoke to students and staff at School District 166 on November 29, sharing a message about following your dreams.

Mills, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, won a gold medal at the Olympics in Tokyo in 1964 in the 10,000 meter run, breaking the Olympic record. He is the only American to win the 10,000 meter gold.

His inspiring life story was highlighted in the 1983 moving Running Brave.

Mills has spent most of his life as an advocate for Native American needs and rights.

His message is made more powerful by the fact that he grew up on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Reservation in South Dakota, surrounded by alcoholism and depression. He was raised in a broken home and his mother died when he was just nine years old.

Despite that rough start in life, Mills thrived in the U.S. Marine Corps, and at Haskell University where he first took to the athletic field.

In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Mills the Presidential Citizen's Medal for his work for the nonprofit organization Running Strong for American Indian Youth. He is the only track gold medalist to receive that honor for his later life work
Mills’ message to students centered around the idea of students finding their dream. He said his father told him "Chasing your dream will heal your broken soul.

Mills told students, “It all starts with finding a passion, developing a talent, and creating the magic,” adding, “I believe in magic."

Photos courtesy of School District 166