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He Also Had a Dream!

Chair Report - February 2006
George Mathews

I had planned on writing about some more goings on at the Annual
Meeting in Jacksonville for this article, but felt it would be
significant to share my recent experience, which I believe ties into
many experiences we are involved with. Most of us in our sport have
heard and know about the fantastic Olympic victory by Billy Mills in
the 10,000 meters in Tokyo in 1964. I remember it as one of the most
exciting victories in Olympic history.
Unfortunately, we haven't won gold in the 10,000 since then. I guess
that even makes it more significant.
 
I noticed a newspaper advertisement that the Kootenai County (Idaho)
Task Force on Human Relations was sponsoring Billy Mills' presentation
"Winning Spirit". I thought this would be a great subject for me and
our fellow athletes to experienc, so I decided to go. Luckily my
neighbor knew Billy from the Marine Corps and a presentation in Yakima,
Washingto, and arranged for us to have dinner with Billy. What a
surprise! This man is much more than a special person who won Olympic
Gold in dramatic fashion. He might be one of the most charismatic
people I have ever met.  He is an inspiration to all us. Billy told of
his dream and how he achieved it.
 
Here in Coeur d' Alene he spoke to 800 5th graders during the day and
mixed audience of another 800 at night. The target of 5th graders is
felt to be important to stimulate youth at this very formative age to
have a dream of their potentiality. His concepts revolve around "the
value based concept of self improvement, dealing with perceptions and
creating intelligent adaptive change in a changing world". He gave many
examples of how he endured tremendous prejudice growing up and living,
even today, as a Native American in this country and world. Shame on us!
 
He called for "Global Unity and Diversity". Here we see the need for
diversity coming up again. We all mostly think we understand diversity
until we start to study it. I was very happy to see the reception of
the Masters Committee to the presentation at the Annual Meeting by
Dexter McCloud and Evie Dennis. I think a lot eyes were opened. Billy
Mills opened my eyes even further.
 
The concept of diversity even has application with our interaction with
our international colleagues. Billy spoke of having at least a friend
in each of the 91 countries he has traveled to. What a wonderful
concept of making friends with our international neighbors instead of
criticizing the differences--making them do it OUR WAY.
I think those of us athletes who travel to international competitions
are starting to understand this. Instead of fighting those that don't
do it our way, make friends. Even if we don't speak the language, we
have one thing in common, SPORT. This is the true Olympic ideal. We
have a great opportunity to live it. Particularly as true amateurs. It
is great to see so many more athletes taking part in the WMA World
competitions. It looks like we will have almost 90 athletes competing
in Linz versus 65 for Sindelfingen. Congratulations to all. Hopefully
we will see these numbers grow as time goes along. The more Americans
travel the world, the more we will understand and be understood.
 
I would highly recommend Billy Mills presentation anytime you can be
exposed to it. His life story "Running Brave" is available as a rental.
Billy is an inspiration to young and old alike. We all have dreams to
fulfill, I hope! I would love to have him speak at one of our meetings
or meets, but think it is probably out of our budget range unless
someone wants to sponsor the presentation. Billy does do this for a
living.
 
Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Billy Mills for sharing your
dreams with us, and stimulating us to have dreams of our own.

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