Billy Mills is a unique individual in American Athletics history. He is the only American to ever win the Olympic gold medal at the 10,000 meter distance. Billy Mills, who has devoted his life to work with young Native Americans, is being recognized by President Obama with a Presidential Citizens Medal.
WHITE HOUSE TO HONOR BILLY MILLS WITH PRESIDENTIAL CITIZENS MEDAL
Recognition for Achievement, Service to Be Held in Washington Next Friday, February 15
ALEXANDRIA, VA – The White House announced today that Olympic champion, role model and humanitarian Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota) is going to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal next week. Billy 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 Billy. “The most powerful thing you can give to a child is a dream, and I have spent my life living mine. 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, Billy 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. Sometimes called the greatest finish of all time, it is viewable online at http://youtu.be/uOj0zjPzg-c.
To this day, Billy remains the only American to win the Gold Medal or be ranked #1 in the world in the 10,000 meters. Mills eventually set seven US Track & Field records and was co-holder of the six mile world record. When he won Olympic gold, Billy captured the spirit of America, the hearts of runners around the world and the pride of American Indian people.
“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.”
Every day, Billy and Running Strong work to give Native children a chance by meeting fundamental survival needs — enough food, warm shelter, safe places and supplies to succeed in school. And we do it while building their communities with organic gardens, and teaching culture and language, and making them proud of who they are.
For more information about Running Strong: www.IndianYouth.org
For more information about Billy Mills: www.IndianYouth.org/billymills.html
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2013
President Obama to Honor Recipients of the 2012 Citizens Medal
Recipients from across the country will visit the White House to receive Presidential award for exemplary service to their fellow citizens
WASHINGTON, DC – On February 15, 2013, President Obama will welcome to the White House the recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor.
“It is my distinguished honor to award these individuals the 2012 Citizens Medal for their commitment to public service,” said President Obama. “Their selflessness and courage inspire us all to look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.”
This event will be open press and begin at 10:45AM ET. Members of the media who wish to cover this event must send NAME, MEDIA OUTLET, PHONE AND EMAIL for each person planning to cover the event to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, February 13th at 5:00 PM ET. If we are able to accommodate your request for credentials, we will send a confirmation with further instructions and logistical details after the RSVP deadline passes.
NOTE: Members of the media who do not have a White House hard pass must also submit their full name (including middle name), date of birth, Social Security number, gender, country of birth, country of citizenship and current city and state of residence.
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. President Obama is recognizing Americans whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention. The President called on members of the public to nominate people in their lives who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs, including individuals:
Who have a demonstrated commitment to service in their own community or in communities farther from home. Someone who has engaged in activities that have had an impact in their local community, on a community or communities elsewhere in the United States, or on fellow citizens living or stationed around the world.
Who have helped their country or their fellow citizens through one or more extraordinary acts. Individuals who have demonstrated notable skill and grace, selflessly placed themselves in harm’s way, taken unusual risks or steps to protect others, made extraordinary efforts to further a national goal, or otherwise conducted themselves admirably when faced with unusually challenging circumstances.
Whose service relates to a long-term or persistent problem. Individuals who have made efforts to combat stubbornly persistent problems that impact entire communities; for example, those who have taken innovative steps to address hunger, homelessness, the dropout crisis, lack of access to health care, and other issues that plague too many Americans.
Whose service has had a sustained impact on others’ lives and provided inspiration for others to serve.