People Who Walk Their Talk: The Lakota Five

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Helping Superstorm Sandy victims last year. Source: Indian Country Today Media Network (Cliff Matias)

Today is Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

Last year, New York Road Runners Club granted five entries to a nonprofit organization called One Spirit, which works with the Native American community on the Pine Ridge Reservation to bring food, wood, and community programs to people in need.  The goal was to encourage Native American youth to train for the New York Marathon and complete the 26.2-mile course.  Five runners were found, and they trained with Lakota running coach Dale Pine.  Then Superstorm Sandy hit the area, and the race was called off.   The team members were disappointed, not only because they had trained so hard, but because they had been planning to raise money for a youth center for their community in Allen, South Dakota.

The five runners, having already traveled to New York with their coach and the head One Spirit, Jeri Baker, decided to help the victims of Superstorm Sandy in whatever way they could.  Team One Spirit joined hundreds of other runners to help clean up debris from the storm.  “We come from a hard place to live” said Coach Pine. “Many of our elders go without heat, electricity and hot water every day, we know what is needed in situations like this.”

Runner Nupa White Plume assisting victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Runner Nupa White Plume assisting victims of Superstorm Sandy.  Source: Indian Country Today Media Network (Cliff Matias)

The runners helped to clear debris from the home of a Chinese couple who spoke little English.  The man asked a translator who the helpers were, and was told that these young people were Native Americans, from one of the poorest areas of the United States.

Fast-forward one year.  Team One Spirit, now known as The Lakota Five, once again entered the New York Marathon, with a goal of raising $18,000 for the youth center.  By the end of the race, they had not only met, but exceeded their goal, with donations still pouring in.

Before this year’s race, the team hosted a Halloween Run for youth, and despite cold temperatures and snow on the ground, over 50 kids participated.  The Lakota Five have become role models for youth on the reservation, as well as a source of pride to the entire community.

Team One Spirit in New York's Central Park in 2013.

Team One Spirit in New York’s Central Park before the race in 2013.  Source: Indian Country Today Media Network (Cliff Matias)

The runners are, from left to right, Alex Wilson, Nupa White Plume, Jeffrey Turning Heart, Jr., Amanda Carlow, and Kelsey Good Lance. Nupa White Plume’s time was the best at 3 hours, 21 minutes, 17 seconds.  Alex Wilson finished in 3 hours, 41 minutes, 51 seconds.  Kelsey Good Lance turned in a time of 3 hours, 57 minutes, 7 seconds.  Amanda Carlow finished the marathon in 4 hours 38 minutes, 20 seconds.  Jeffrey Turning Heart, who had been training for months along highways, suffered a knee injury at Mile 9 but kept going and finished the race in 6 hours 43 minutes, 26 seconds.  What a trooper!   Congratulations to the runners, their coach, and the One Spirit organization.  🙂

Team One Spirit at the Parade of Nations in Central Park before this year's race.  Source: Indian Country Today Media Network (Cliff Matias)

Team One Spirit at the Parade of Nations in Central Park before this year’s race. Source: Indian Country Today Media Network (Cliff Matias)

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