Born June 30, 1938 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Billy Mills is an Oglala Sioux Indian whose given Native-American name is "Loves His Country." Although an outstanding long distance runner, Mills' accomplishment at the 1964 Summer Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan stands as one of the most shocking upsets in modern sports. During these games, Billy Mills stunned spectators in one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history, when, as a virtual unknown, he outpaced the competition in the last 100 meters of the 10,000-meter race and took home a gold. He was not only the first American to win that event but in the process set an Olympic record of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds. Mills now serves as the… national spokesperson for the aid organization Running Strong for American Indian Youth. The movie Running Brave is based on his life story.
Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on New Year's Eve, 1965. As a child, he lived in Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Grand Island, Nebraska, finally settling in Fair Oaks, California when he was eight. In 1984, he received a full scholarship to run track and field for the University of Notre Dame. Sparks wrote one of his best-known stories, The Notebook, over a period of six months at age 28. It was published in 1996 and spent 56 weeks on the New York Times hardcover best-seller list followed by another 54 weeks on the paperback list. Sparks has had a string of New York Times bestsellers including: A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, The Rescue, A Bend in the Road, Nights in… Rodanthe, The Guardian, The Wedding, True Believer and its sequel, At First Sight, Dear John, The Last Song, Safe Haven, The Best of Me and The Longest Ride. Safe Haven became his eighth film adaptation. Sparks is involved in many local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually. Along with his wife, he founded The Epiphany School in New Bern, North Carolina and the Nicholas Sparks Foundation.