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Dirk Whitebreast - Sac & Fox
WASHINGTON - Eight years ago, Dirk Whitebreast lost his beautiful young sister, Darcy Jo Keahna, to suicide. She was only 18 years old. Since that day, Whitebreast took a hard look at his own life. He stopped using alcohol and became an avid runner, as well as a leader of his tribal community by serving as secretary of his tribal council.
This fall, Whitebreast, a 31-year-old member of Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, plans to run 10 marathons in 30 days, a total of 262 miles, and he is dedicating the money he raises to the Center for Native American Youth.
Sadly, the rates of Native youth suicide are as high as 3.5 times the national average, reaching epidemic levels in many tribal communities. Combating the high rates of Native youth suicide is at the core of the Center's work on Native youth issues.
"It is people like Dirk that can give Native American youth hope. Through Dirk's run and the Center, we will reach out to youth and give them hope," says Center's founder, former US Senator Byron Dorgan.
Whitebreast was touched by the Center's mission to improve the lives of Native youth and efforts to raise the awareness of the tragedy of suicide in Indian Country. This is why Whitebreast reached out to the Center and wants the organization to benefit from his 262 mile run. Beginning September 17, Dirk will take on the challenge of running 10 marathons in 30 days and he will do it in support of the Center for Native American Youth.
"My story ties directly into what the Center for Native American Youth is all about. I am motivated by the organization's mission and excited that through my running we can spread hope to Native youth," Dirk said.
Running is an important part of Native culture for many tribes. Through his 10 marathon journey, Dirk sets an example of cultural awareness, health, motivation, hard work and leadership for all young people in Indian Country.
"We are excited to work with Dirk, share his inspirational story of running and healthy living with Native youth, tribal leaders, and other organizations, and most importantly to honor the life of Darcy Jo Keahna," says the Center's director Erin Bailey.
For more information or to support Dirk's 262 Mile Run to Support Native Youth please visit Dirk's Challenge »
The list of marathons Dirk is registered for is as follows:
The North Face Endurance Challenge - Madison, Wisconsin (Eagle, WI) September 17th
Community First Fox Cities Marathon - Appleton, Wisconsin September 18th
American Birkebeiner Trail Run - Hayward, Wisconsin September 24th
The Quad Cities Marathon - Moline, Illinois September 25th
Freedom's Run Marathon - Shepherdstown, West Virginia October 1st
Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon - Milwaukee, Wisconsin October 2nd
Prairie State Marathon - Libertyville, Illinois October 8th
Bank of America Chicago Marathon - Chicago, Illinois October 9th
Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon - Kansas City, Missouri October 15th
IMT Des Moines Marathon - Des Moines, Iowa October 16th
The Center for Native American Youth is a new organization Senator Dorgan created at the Aspen Institute to address the challenges facing Native American children. Dorgan donated $1 million of excess campaign funds to create the organization in January of this year at the Aspen Institute in Washington DC.
posted July 21, 2011 7:00 am edt
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