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On October 12, 2017, Garry FitzGerald, Health Ministry leader at Saint Patrick Catholic Church, spoke to over 40 Saint Patrick Catholic Church & School CYO cross country runners and coaches at Vassault Park, Tacoma.

Role Models & Health Eating

The runners ranged in age from Kindergarten through eighth grade. “Dr. Fitz” spoke about a very special runner he had known and worked with, Billy Mills, and the importance of good nutrition for young athletes.

Billy Mills

Billy is a Lakota (Sioux) Indian born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, one of the poorest areas in the U.S. Billy not only lost both his mother and father by age twelve, but also had to deal with diabetes. Thanks to a Jesuit priest who visited Billy and brought him books about sports and the Olympics, Billy became interested in long distance and cross country running.

Olympic Gold

On October 14, at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Billy became the only American to ever win a Gold Medal in the 10,000 meter race. This is still considered the greatest upset in Olympic Track and Field history.
In 1983, a movie about Billy’s life, “Running Brave”, was made starring Robbie Benson. Copies of this movie were given to CYO runners whose birthdays were closest to the date of Billy’s Gold Medal run. All the CYO runners received wrist bands from Billy’s foundation, Running Strong. This charity supports American Indian Youth.

Healthy Spirit. Mind. Body.

At the end of practice all the runners received healthy snacks and a heart-felt thanks from the Health Ministry for being great examples of health-minded young Catholics.

Check out Billy Mills surprise Gold Medal win in the 10,000 meter race.