Join us for this special live Zoom roundtable with Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills & Jim Thorpe Biographer Robert Wheeler, in a conversation led by Nedra Darling, co-founder of Bright Path Strong.
Thursday, Feb 25th 2PM EST / 11AM PST
Meet the Panelists:
Billy Mills was born on June 30, 1938 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He is Oglala Lakota (Sioux) and grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Billy did not have an easy childhood. Surrounded by poverty and orphaned at the age of 12, he started running to channel his energy into something positive. In high school, his gift for running become more apparent as he set records in numerous track events. He went on to earn a track scholarship from the University of Kansas and then served as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps. At the 1964 Olympics, he shocked the world and came from behind to win the gold medal in the 10,000 meters race. At the time, he set a world record of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds and is still the only American to ever win a gold medal in the 10 m event. His win was an upset that has been called the second greatest moment in Olympic history. In Lakota culture, someone who achieves great success has a ‘giveaway’ to thank the support system of family and friends who helped him achieve his goal. As part of his effort to give back to his community, Billy helped found Running Strong for American Indian Youth and became the organization’s National Spokesperson. Today Billy travels over 300 days every year. He visits Native American communities throughout the U.S. and speaks to youth about healthy lifestyles and taking pride in their heritage.
Emmy Award-winner Bob Wheeler co-founded the Jim Thorpe Foundation with his wife, Dr. Florence Ridlon. Jim’s son, Lt. Colonel Carl Phillip Thorpe, was insistent that full credit for the International Olympic Committee’s decision to restore his father’s gold medals be given to “Bob and Florence, who even put their own careers aside for it.” The editor of PRO, the official magazine of the National Football League, reviewed Bob’s biography of Jim as the “definitive volume on Thorpe.” Bob is an Executive Producer for the upcoming feature film about Jim Thorpe, Bright Path, which is based on his book, Jim Thorpe: World’s Greatest Athlete. Bob’s career includes managing public relations for ABC Sports, FOX Sports, and the White House Conference for Children and Youth as well as forming his and his wife’s public relations company, Wheeler/Ridlon Communications.
Nedra Darling, a citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and a proud Cherokee Nation descendent, co-founder of Bright Path Strong and an executive producer of the forthcoming feature film Bright Path. She co-produced the award winning documentary Surviving Columbus while director of the nation’s first American Indian Film and Video center at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Nedra devoted her 35 year federal government career to celebrating and uplifting American Indian and Alaska Native peoples and continues her work for Indian Country by telling our truths in movies.
About Bright Path Strong
Bright Path Strong was created to share and amplify authentic Native American voices and stories, past and present. Representation matters, and it’s time we shine a light on our real history, our people, and our resilience — in our own words.
The right path is the Bright Path.
About Running Strong
Billy Mills (right) joined forces with Eugene Krizek (left) in 1986 to help found Running Strong for American Indian Youth®. Running Strong was founded under Christian Relief Services in 1986. After Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota) became the Olympic champion for the 10K, he made it his priority to give back to his community and create a better future for Native American youth.
Our Tribal Partners:
- The Tuolumne Band of Mewuk Indians
- The Mohegan Tribe
- Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
- The Tonto Apache Tribe
- The Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria
- Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Mewuk Indians of California
- Sac & Fox Nation
- Sealaska Corporation
- Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians