Family, friends honor the life of ‘Lakota 5’ runner
OGLALA S.D. – Family, friends, and community members gathered on the Pine Ridge Reservation on Tuesday to honor the life of a nationally recognized Lakota athlete.
Kelsey Good Lance was a dedicated Lakota runner who friends say inspired others one step at a time. In 2009, he qualified for the State A Cross Country meet in Rapid City.
In 2012, Kelsey wanted to raise funds for a new youth center on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the community of Allen.
Kelsey’s running coach Dale Pine stood outside of the Our Lady of the Sioux Catholic Church in the community of Oglala on Tuesday. “How were we going to raise this money instead of begging or asking?” asked Dale. “We wanted to earn it some way. We were given five slots in the New York City Marathon.
It was from there that the ‘Lakota Five’ was born. They were sponsored by the nonprofit ‘One Spirit‘ which looks to empower Lakota Youth on the Reservation. The Lakota Five was the first ever Native American running team in the New York City Marathon.
But while the team was in New York, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the area, canceling the race. Kelsey and his teammates then chipped into the relief effort running supplies across Staten Island and helping people in the community.
“They said what do you want to do? We’re in New York, we’ve got the weekend to do something,” Dale said. “And the boys looked at me and said ‘What do we usually do at home? We go out and help.'”
After the race, Kelsey and the Lakota Five ended up raising around $30,000 for the youth center. Kelsey’s dedication to running took him to a marathon in Denver, a Spartan Race in Vermont, and the Run Crazy Horse Marathon in the Black Hills.
Local and national coverage of the Lakota Five inspired young runners across the state. At the memorial, friends and family remembered Kelsey as an avid Denver Broncos fan, a Pine Ridge Thorpe, and a loyal friend.
“He’s a friendly and nice guy, but hes also respectful,” said Dale. “Humble and quiet, so you’ve got to learn from him in a quiet way. He’s not out boasting anything, but hes very respectful.”
And with his passing friends and family hope his legacy will inspire others to make a difference in the community.
“If we all did one nice good thing today in honor of him, wouldn’t the world be a better place? Maybe tomorrow try a couple more. We can do good things together, using his inspiration,” Dale said.