Posted on Feb 15, 2013 in Alumni News, News, and Sports
In a ceremony at the White House today, KU alumnus and Olympic Gold medalist Billy Mills, d’62, received the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal from President Obama. The medal is the second-highest civilian award in the United States, second only to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The president honored Mills, who was accompanied by his wife, Pat, for his work with Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization he co-founded that supports cultural programs and provides health and housing assistance for Native American communities.
“I am humbled and honored to be recognized by the President in this extraordinary way,” Mills said in a statement on his organization’s website. “The most powerful thing you can give to a child is a dream. I hope every child in Indian Country knows what is possible if you follow your dream.”
Jayhawks will also remember Mills for his unexpected victory at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games in the grueling 10,000 meter run. His shocking come-from-behind victory (watch the video here) ranks among the greatest upsets in Olympic history, and he remains the only American to ever win the event. Mills remains actively involved with KU and Haskell Indian Nations University, returning often for speaking engagements and to attend the Kansas Relays. He and Pat are active Jayhawk Society members of the KU Alumni Association.
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. The President recognizes Americans whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention. Members of the public are invited to nominate people in their lives who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs.
We congratulate this legendary Jayhawk for a well-deserved honor.