Running Strong Gold Set 3-05 (002)

Five Named “Dreamstarter® Golds,” Win $50K Award from Billy Mills and Running Strong for American Indian Youth

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills announced five Native American young professionals to receive $50,000 Dreamstarter® Gold grants for projects that help bring their dreams to life. Each of the five Dreamstarter® Gold recipients, who are all American Indian and previous grantees of Running Strong, will work with a community nonprofit to expand their previous projects supported by Running Strong for American Indian Youth.

“The elders have the vision, but it is the youth that have the dreams,” said Mills, who is Oglala Lakota (Sioux) from Pine Ridge, SD and co-founder of Running Strong. “These five represent the next generation of American Indian leaders. I believe in them, in their dreams, and in the future they are building for all of us.”

The Dreamstarter® Golds are:

Dr. Sara Chase Merrick (Hoopa Valley Tribe), Eureka, CA

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

Dr. Cristin Haase (Lakota – Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe), Tempe, AZ

Riel LaPlant (Blackfeet Nation), Seattle, WA

Jeremy Dennis (Shinnecock Indian Nation), Southampton, NY

More information about the Dreamstarter® Golds and their projects is available at

Running Strong has given away a total of $850,000 in Dreamstarter® grants over six years to support Native youth’s dreams for their communities. The project was announced on October 14, 2014, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mills’ gold medal win at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

On October 14, 1964, Billy Mills, won the 10,000-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics in an upset, come-from-behind victory that ever since has been an inspiration to Native youth and all Americans. He is still the only person from the Western hemisphere ever to win that event. Mills announced the Dreamstarter® program in 2015 on the 50th anniversary of his gold medal win, which has been repeatedly called the greatest race in Olympic running history.

Running Strong for American Indian Youth partners with Native communities all over the country to create healthier, happier, and more hopeful futures for American Indian youth. The Dreamstarter® program helps Native youth believe in the power of their dreams to build strong futures for themselves and their communities.

Additional information about the program can be found at


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