The tribal secretary of the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa plans to run 10 marathons in 30 days, dedicating the funds he raises to the Center for Native American Youth. The policy program, created in January 2011 by U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, former chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs from 2007-2011, is dedicated to combating the challenges faced by American Indian youth, including youth suicide and substance abuse prevention, education and more. Dirk Whitebreast tragically lost his 18-year-old sister, Darcy Jo Keahna, to suicide on March 28, 2003. Since then, Whitebreast has committed himself to a healthier lifestyle. He stopped using alcohol and became an avid runner and community leader. “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,” Whitebreast said. The 31-year-old tribal secretary is on his 8th year of alcohol sobriety, and to date, Whitebreast has run 29 marathons in 17 states, according to The Aspen Institute, which established the Center. Beginning September 17, 2011, Whitebreast will make strides toward running 262 total miles. “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,” Sen. Dorgan said. “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,” said Erin Bailey, the Center's director. To learn more and support Whitebreast’s run by donating, visit www.aspeninstitute.org/dirksrun.
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