Rapid City man wins $10K grant to start youth running camp

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A Rapid City man wants to use a $10,000 grant he was awarded by a national organization to help people living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation get a running start on their health and fitness.

James Pine is among 10 people chosen to receive a grant administered by the Virginia-based nonprofit Running Strong to start camps promoting health and wellness across the nation, the Rapid City Journal reported. Pine, who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, plans to use his grant to help the people in that community, where he said there isn’t much to do, causing many people to turn to unhealthy lifestyles and choices.

“There are a lot of bad habits. There’s a lot of suicide. There are a lot of drugs and alcohol, and there’s not much to turn to. On a daily basis, a lot of people are bored, and they want to hang out with their friends, and they do bad things,” Pine said.

The 23-year-old avid runner participated in cross country and track while he was a student at Pine Ridge High School. He said he hopes to share his passion with others on the reservation so it could have the same positive affect on them.

“Running has helped me in a major way, and I don’t even know if I can put it into words, but it was just an awesome thing because when I was younger, growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation, I went through the hardships, just like everyone else,” he said.

Each of the awardees will work with a mentoring nonprofit to help implement their startup camps for kids. Pine will work with Dustin Martin, program director for Wings of America in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Pine plans to begin a series of two-day youth camps, called Lakota Forever Running and Fitness, this summer in eight communities across the reservation.

“I just want to bring my people up,” he said. “I just want to help them out. I want to be a mentor and a coach. I just want to help the youth, and not even just the youth. I want to help everybody, elders, too, old people, tall, small - anybody.”

Wings of America has granted Pine an additional $9,000 to support the camps, which will incorporate games, mentorship and wellness education.

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