Keynote Address: Billy Mills

  • Billy Mills (Running Strong for American Indian Youth)


Billy Mills was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Orphaned by the age of 12 and sent to boarding schools, he graduated high school from Haskell Indian School, became involved in distance running, and earned a scholarship to the University of Kansas. Although he never won a major race in track and field or cross-country, he continued to improve his performances and was named All-American seven times. Following graduation from Kansas, Mills was commissioned an officer in the United States Marine Corps and began training for the Olympics. He made the Olympic team in the marathon and 10,000-meter run, and at the 1964 Olympics Billy Mills shocked the world when he came from behind to win the gold medal in the 10k race. His time of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds set a world record at the time. He is still the only American to ever win a gold medal in the 10,000 meters.

An accomplished businessman, author, and creator of Running Strong for American Indian Youth, Billy Mills is the national spokesperson for Christian Relief Services and has helped raise over $500 million for charities worldwide. A recipient of five honorary doctorates and the inspiration for the film Running Brave, Billy Mills was chosen as Sports Illustrated’s Athlete of the Century for the state of South Dakota.



Published on
07 Mar 2008