The Lakota Five: ONE Spirit, ONE Dream

 

Have you ever wished you could be someone else for a day? Someone or something grabs your attention to the point that you can’t quit thinking about it no matter how hard you try? Well, ever since I watched the NYRR On The Run video, I now find myself daydreaming and wishing I was a young Lakota who decided one day to put on some running shoes …

Amanda Running

(Team ONE Spirit's Amanda Carlow)

Anyone who has ever attempted to run more than 50 yards and not collapse on the ground gasping for air can understand the adoration many people feel towards runners. It takes great courage, self-sacrifice, stamina, determination, and an iron will to run. Dedicated runners often run in the scalding heat of summer and the frigid cold of winter. They are often running alone in the darkness of night or morning, for hours at a time, with just the company of their thoughts. So what exactly drives the runner? For a group of five young individuals of Native American descent, it is a heartfelt and endearing cause. They are the “Spirit of the People” dream team known as the LAKOTA FIVE, and they run for a chance at a better life.

Our runners at the Spartan Race

The LAKOTA FIVE will soon be running in the New York City Marathon. Their dream is to bring about change through attention and awareness to the impoverished dismal conditions still on their reservation. By running, they are also creating hope through achievement which in turn is inspiring the many youth on the reservation to also be mentors and positive role models. They believe their efforts will help in building a youth center, a place where the children and youth can develop positive talents and contribute to the community. Their goal is not to simply win a trophy, it is to win back the pride and confidence of a great nation, and gain universal awareness to their culture and heritage. And in all that, the “Spirit of the People” dream team has gained worldwide notoriety through their inspirational personal stories and suddenly people everywhere are tuning in and asking questions like; how are they doing? Where can we see them? We can’t wait to watch…

And therein something wonderful has happened across the globe. Not only have the LAKOTA FIVE inspired the youth and members of their communities, they have now truly inspired all of us. They are the champions we want to stand up and root for and cheer on because they represent the underdog in all of us reaching out and overcoming the obstacles in our way. They have taught us to not run away when times are tough, but rather to run straight ahead no matter how difficult it may be until we reach our goals. Through their hard work, perseverance, and “true grit”, the “Spirit of the People", the dream team, the LAKOTA FIVE, have now truly become America’s team.
On November 3rd, 2013, the LAKOTA FIVE will run the grueling 26.2 mile race of a lifetime. Thousands will be tuned in and watching. Some will be at the pavement laden race, but for others they will follow by media coverage and news broadcasts. Others will be in the comfort of their living rooms. The LAKOTA FIVE will follow a very loud, exciting, busy, yet solemn path. But this time will be different in that they will not be alone in the company of their own silent thoughts. Distant drums will be heard in the background by many, real or imagined, and they will run side by side with the great chiefs of the past. A comforting ancestral wind will gently blow at their backs, and their dream for a chance at a better life will lift and carry their dedicated driven feet, and as they pass each mile we hope and pray they can hear the sound of all our hearts chanting under our breath, I believe…I believe…I believe. Because of those five everyday champions, today is the day I too will put on some running shoes.
- By Janice McMichael, ONE Spirit Supporter

The team continues to be an inspiration at home, where they help Lakota youth build optimism, self-respect and pride in themselves and their communities. Support this team, and the youth of Pine Ridge.

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Runners' profiles:

Profile of Dale Pine (Coach)

Profile of Alex Wilson

Profile of Amanda Carlow

Profile of Kelsey Good Lance

Profile of Jeff Turning Heart Jr.

 

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

Alex

(Alex Wilson)

“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

Kelsey

(Kelsey Good Lance)

“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.

Amanda

(Amanda Carlow)



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?

Show them you are with them – donate now.

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