In 1986, Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills co-founded Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, as a way to give back to his Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and to Native Americans throughout Indian Country.
During the past three decades, Billy has been doing just that. He’s raised more than $40 million to support programs that provide food, shelter, heat, educational opportunities for children and much more, which will improve the lives American Indians and help them build better futures for themselves and their families.
Even as young boy, orphaned at age 12 and struggling to get by on the impoverished Pine Ridge reservation, Billy thought about the future—a future which became reality in 1964 when he won the gold medal in the 10,000-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics. It was a historic upset victory.
Today, at age 77, Billy still spends hundreds of days each year continuing to give back by raising funds for Running Strong programs and inspiring young and old alike to dream big, spreading the message: “God has given me the ability. The rest is up to me. Believe. Believe. Believe.”
But Billy realizes he cannot go on forever. That’s why he became the very first member of Running Strong’s Circle Society, whose generous members are shaping the future of our charitable organization by indicating Running Strong for American Indian Youth® as a beneficiary through a bequest in their will or as beneficiary in their life insurance policy.
As a member of the Running Strong Circle Society, Billy and other members will help support our mission for years to come.
“I became the first member of the Running Strong Circle Society in order to continue to give back in honor of those who helped me achieve my dream,” says Billy. “My gift through the Circle Society will ensure that I will continue to be able to give back even after I have left this earthly world and joined Wakantanka — ‘The Father in the Sky.’”
Billy adds, “I ask you to do the same—leave a legacy of your own that will benefit Native American children for years, decades, to come. There is no greater gift, I know.”