Heroes from Pine Ridge Reservation Run in the New York City Marathon
by Bamm Brewer
Ideas get bigger when you share them...
One Spirit - October 21, 2013 (www.investorideas.com newswire) On November 3rd, 5 Lakota athletes will run in the New York City Marathon. Alex Wilson, Kelsey Good Lance, Amanda Carlow, Nupa White Plume, Jeff Turning Heart Jr. and their coach, Dale Pine have two goals in mind - to inspire Pine Ridge youth to take pride in their heritage and believe in themselves and to raise funds for youth centers and programs on the reservation. The centers will provide youth with a welcome, safe, and inviting place where they will have access to computers, music, art, mentoring and tutoring, and food – all in a drug and alcohol free environment.
These young people and their coach hail from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota , Home of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. The reservation is home to 40,000 Native Americans and the statistics associated with their reservation are shocking when we consider that these are descendants of the First Americans, they are citizens both of the Great Lakota Nation and also of the United States . Statistics show that 90% of the people on the reservation live below the poverty level; unemployment hovers around 80%, families, children, and elders go without food on a regular basis, life expectancy is about 50 years, the high school drop out rate is roughly 70% and teenage suicide is 3 ½ times higher than anywhere else in the US.
But there is more to the Lakota people than statistics, and Coach Dale Pine means to help local youth show the world the true spirit of the Lakota people. Dale has been a coach at Pine Ridge High School since 1983. He stopped counting the number of state and regional championships his teams have won – he counts now the number of kids that have been able to become masters of their environment. Dale is more than a coach to the kids. His colleagues describe him as having the heart and respect of the people. He is a dedicated and committed coach who provides kids with a place to stay and food to eat when they need it, makes them work both academically and athletically, chews them out when he feels they need it, but also takes them home with him when they need a place to go. He doesn’t just demand that the kids perform, he runs along with them. Anything he asks the kids to do, he does also – and they love him for that. One of his students told us, "I used to cuss him out in my mind, but he gave me courage." This student, Doni Decory, ran in the Golden West National Invitational for Track, an event that invites only the top 8 athletes in the country for each event. When Doni went to California for this event, she insisted that her coach be allowed to come with her.
The basketball coach at Pine Ridge High School describes Dale as a motivator. She says he looks for the kids who don’t have much in their lives and takes them
"under his wing." "He has put a lot of shoes on kids and I have even seen him take the shoes off his own feet and give them to a young person who didn't have any. He runs anchor with the kids and he is high on education."
Dale has raised 6 kids as a single parent, 4 of his own and a niece and nephew. He has six grandchildren.
(The Lakota Five and friends at the Prairie Winds 15k race in September)
The Lakota athletes who will run in the New York City Marathon, grew up on Pine Ridge Reservation surrounded by typical circumstances; 10 or more people in a small home, family members who suffered the ravages of alcohol and drugs, insufficient food, sleeping on the floor of homes that were always too hot or too cold, and wavering between the pressures of their peers and the firm handling of their coach. It was a hard life – physically and emotionally. One person says she watched Alex as he was growing up, "He ran like a deer – other kids would come just to watch him run and then ask if they could try on his shoes. Alex never could understand why the kids reacted to him that way. He is a humble person." Of Kelsey, she said he started late running. "Like so many kids on the reservation, he never had a chance to grieve - to mourn his lost childhood or his lost spirituality. He too, had family that was affected by alcohol and drugs, absent parents, too little food and heat in his home, and events that found him sometimes taking wrong turns in his life.
Today, all five athletes talk passionately about representing their people, developing programs for the kids, and bringing pride to their tribe and their reservation. It is this that makes them train rigorously for a marathon, to work with the kids on their reservation, and to dig deep in themselves to find the will – and adrenaline – to keep going. What they have to say is an inspiration to us all:
"When they ask why I run, I tell them I run for you." Alex
"I hope we inspire people to run, and rise up above the struggles, the poverty, the crime, the drugs and alcohol. Because in the end they ain't weights holding us down, they're challenges ready to be conquered." Kelsey
"It is an honor (to run in the NYC Marathon) because I am not only running for myself but to represent my tribe and help support something positive for the reservation. In running the NYC Marathon, my teammates and I will reflect the perseverance and strength of our people." Amanda.
With your help, these heroes of Pine Ridge Reservation will reach their goal.
If they can conquer the circumstances they grew up with, can we support them as they give to the kids of Pine Ridge a chance for a future?
Meet Amanda Carlow
Amanda was born and raised in Pine Ridge , SD. She is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (Lakota). The youngest of five children, watching her siblings excel in sports and academics, Amanda knew that each was going to play a role in her life. Throughout her life she has accumulated numerous athletic and academic accolades. Some of those accolades include Arthur Ashe Scholar Recipient, United States Achievement Academy All-American Scholar, and National Criminal Justice Honor Society (Alpha Phi Sigma, Omega Phi Chapter). All of these were earned while Amanda was a team captain for the University of Texas Pan American (NCAA Div. I) women’s basketball team. Graduating with honors, Amanda received a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice while double minoring in Business Administration and Sociology. In 2007 Amanda was inducted into the Lakota Nation Basketball Hall of Fame.
Currently Amanda is a Guidance Counselor at Red Cloud Middle School . She completed her Master of Science in School Counseling from Creighton University in 2012. She was a member of the Jesuit Honor Society (Alpha Sigma Nu). Amanda recently finished her second season coaching cross-country for Red Cloud Middle School and will soon begin her second season as the head girls’ basketball coach for Red Cloud High School .
Amanda has a passion for working with the youth from her reservation and creating a positive atmosphere. She knows that empowering the youth to live healthy, successful lives will make a positive impact for the future of the reservation and her Tribe.
Amanda has two children Riyen (11) and Ashlan (5) whom she raises to embody traditional Lakota ways and values. The foundation of her family is living a prayerful life, which includes a drug and alcohol free existence.
When speaking at an eighth grade graduation Amanda said, "It is not only important to have dreams, but you have to follow through and take action to turn those dreams into reality." She also believes in setting goals for herself so that her journey will continue to be an adventure filled with positive opportunities.
When asked how she feels about running the New York City Marathon (ING NYC) she said, "Running the NYC Marathon is going to be a great experience and I’m looking forward to returning after helping on Staten Island after Hurricane Sandy put a stop to last year’s run. It is an honor because I am not only running for myself but to represent my tribe and help support something positive for the reservation. In running the NYC Marathon, my teammates and I will reflect the perseverance and strength of our people."
Meet Kelsey Good Lance
My name is Kelsey Good Lance. I'm 22 and have two kids; a boy, Xander who is 4, a girl, Saf'fron 2. I'm currently taking college classes, for my AAS in General Construction. This training for the NYC Marathon has been amazing, I've learned a lot about staying healthy and fit, while maintaining self-discipline. I've also started to reach out to the youth in my community, telling them that life goes by fast and the time to reach your goal in education and in sports are running out. I told many that running is a part of any sport, it doesn't matter what sport you are joining you'll have to run. Some mock me, joke about running, but others take my advice to heart. In the past three months, I've seen a numbers of kids actually start. I also am considering making this a profession. One main goal for me is: to reach out and get at least ten to twenty people running with me by the end of summer.
Kelsey's family: with partner Tia and their children Xander and Saf'fron
My philosophy comes from Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run:
"Every morning in Africa , a gazelle wakes up, knowing it must outrun the fastest lion, or it will die. Every morning a Lion wakes up, knowing it must outrun the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you’re the lion or the gazelle - when the sun comes up, you'd better be running"
Another quote from McDougall:
"You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running." This I strongly suggest to the youth because in some occasions, I get asked "how old are you?" since most of the time people think I'm eighteen, or nineteen, and I have to show them my ID. I tell people that running is a key exercise that keeps you looking young and help you live longer, with eating healthy and numerous other things.
Running in the New York City marathon is exciting, and nerve wracking: my hands get sweaty thinking about it. I hope we inspire people to run, and rise up above the struggles, the poverty, the crime, the drugs and alcohol. Because in the end they ain't weights holding us down, they're challenges ready to be conquered.
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