Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Children's Book on Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills' Story to be published Summer of 2024


February 8, 2022

Co-founder and National Spokesperson of Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills, is teaming up with renowned children’s book creators, author Donna Janell Bowman and Lakota artist S.D. Nelson, to publish an autobiographical picture book.

The book will recount Billy’s experiences as an Oglala Lakota child growing up orphaned on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the events leading up to his dream of winning an Olympic Gold medal in the 10,000-meter (6.2 miles) race at the 1964 Tokyo Games.

Billy overcame extreme poverty growing up in the 1940s and 50s on the reservation. Later he faced debilitating health challenges and racism as an All-American long-distance runner at the University of Kansas. Determination and Lakota virtues fueled his historic gold medal win, which is often considered one of the most thrilling upsets in Olympic history. As part of his traditional Giveaway, he co-founded Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, a national non-profit committed to building the capacity of Native communities to overcome the challenges they face.

Bowman is the acclaimed author of award-winning children’s books, including “Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness,” “Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words,” “The Sioux: The Past and Present of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota,” and more.

Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is the award-winning illustrator and author/illustrator of numerous children’s books including “Black Elk’s Vision,” “Gift Horse,” “The Star People,” “Buffalo Bird Girl,” and more.

The autobiographical picture book, titled “Wings of an Eagle: The Gold Medal Dreams of Billy Mills” will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in the summer of 2024.

Previously, Billy’s life story was featured in the 1983 film “Running Brave,” starring Robby Benson. Billy also co-authored “Wokini: Your Personal Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding” with national best-selling author Nicholas Sparks.


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