Olympic legend and motivational speaker Billy Mills, the only American ever to win a gold medal in the 10,000 Meter Run, will give a presentation titled “Self Empowerment in a Rapidly Changing World” on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Rogers State University.
The presentation, which is part of the RSU Department of Communication and Fine Arts Invited Speakers Program, will be held at 11 a.m. in the Will Rogers Auditorium on the RSU campus in Claremore. The event is free and open to the public.
“This is an opportunity for our students and the public to meet a man who is widely regarded as a hero and who has been an inspiration to many people around the world,” said Dr. Jeff Gentry, chairman of the Department of Communications and Fine Arts.
Following his presentation, Mills will appear at a luncheon to raise funds for scholarships for Native American students at RSU. The luncheon will be held from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. in Post Hall. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased by calling (918) 343-7742.
Mills won the gold medal at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. His performance is widely regarded as one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history. He set the world record for the six-mile run a year later. In addition to his status as an Olympic legend, Mills has enjoyed a career as a successful businessman, philanthropist and author. He also served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.
As a Native American, Mills overcame many obstacles including poverty and discrimination while growing up on a reservation as a member of the Oglala-Lakota tribe in South Dakota. He was orphaned at age 12.
Mills went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and five honorary doctoral degrees from various institutions.
A full-length feature film about his life, “Running Brave,” with actor Robby Benson portraying Mills in the lead role, was released in 1984 and experienced significant box office success.
He is the author of several books including “Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self Understanding.”
Mills was named to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 1979 and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984. He has been named International Speaker of the Year by Toastmasters.
While at RSU, Mills will conduct an interview for the “Native Air” program on RSU Radio FM 91.3, speak to students in a class in Native American Studies and meet with members of the RSU Native American Student Association.
Mills’ appearances at RSU are sponsored by the Department of Communications and Fine Arts and Office of Student Affairs. For more information call (918) 343-7742.