Billy Mills, center, takes a photo with Native youth. The Olympic gold medlist awarded Dreamstarter grants to ten Native youth on March 6, 2015.

Olympian Billy Mills Names Dreamstarter Grantees


Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills announced today the names of ten American Indian youth who will receive $10,000 in funding for their dream projects under Mills’s non-profit Running Strong for American Indian Youth. The Dreamstarter grantees will work with a nonprofit to improve wellness in their community.

“I’m so inspired by our first class of Dreamstarters,” Mills said in a news release. “The Dreamstarter program is one more step towards overcoming the poverty of dreams among so many Native young people. The Dreamstarters come from communities and tribes all over the country. They are bound together by the idea that, despite the challenges, their dreams can guide them to build a strong future for themselves and for their communities.”

The 2015 – 2016 Dreamstarters are:

·         Nathaniel Christianson (White Earth Chippewa), 16, Callaway, MN

Mentor Organization: White Earth Land Recovery Project

·         Ronnie Godfrey (Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux), 14, Summit, SD

Mentor Organization: Summit School District 54-6

·         Cristin Haase (Cheyenne River Sioux), 24, Gilbert, AZ

Mentor Organization: A.T. Still University of Health Sciences

·         Noah Blue Elk Hotchkiss (Southern Ute/Southern Cheyenne/Caddo), 16, Durango, CO

·         Mentor Organization: Disabled Sports USA – Adaptive Sports Association

·         Rashaun Nez (Navajo), 20, Lower Fruitland, NM

Mentor Organization: Capacity Builders, Inc.

·         Jacquelyn Nielsen (Shoshone), 17, Vancouver, WA

Mentor Organization: Wisdom of the Elders, Inc.

·         James Pine (Oglala Lakota), 23, Rapid City, SD

Mentor Organization: The Earth Circle Foundation

·         Breanna Potter (Cherokee), 20, Salisaw, OK

Mentor Organization: Brushy Cherokee Action Association

·         Darius Sparks (Standing Rock Sioux), 19, Bismarck, ND

Mentor Organization: Sacred Pipe Resource Center

·         Samantha Yellow Fat (Standing Rock Sioux), 25, Bismarck, ND

Mentor Organization: Youthworks

Over the next five years, Running Strong will give away fifty $10,000 Dreamstarter grants to support Native youth’s dreams for their communities. At the end of the grant period, Running Strong will choose five projects to be eligible for an additional $50,000 grant.

RELATED: Billy Mills Milestone: 50 Years Since Olympic Gold Win

RELATED: Olympian Billy Mills Launches Dreamstarter Grant Program, 50 Grants in Five Years

Billy Mills, Oglala Lakota (Sioux), won the 10,000-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics in a come-from-behind victory that has been an inspiration to all Americans. He co-founded Running Strong for American Indian Youth in 1986 to help others live their dreams. Mills announced the Dreamstarter program on the 50th anniversary of his gold medal win, which has been repeatedly called the greatest race in Olympic running history.

To read more about each grantee’s, visit

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