Running the Iditarod takes courage, strength and a certain toughness few possess. The 1,000-mile race tests a racer’s endurance and throws obstacles in their way to test their commitment. In life, most people face their own tests of endurance and strength.
Mike Williams, Sr., an Iditarod veteran, has braved both the challenges of the Last Great Race and the difficult task of overcoming the grief alcoholism brings to a family. Sobriety, like the Iditarod, is a test of endurance and commitment. All of Mike’s brothers died from alcohol-related deaths, but instead of following in their path, the musher blazed his own. He has since become a leader in the race against substance abuse. When he mushes, he carries pledges from thousands of people committing to sobriety.
His commitment to helping Youth remain sober and his stance against suicide have inspired people of the Calista Region, and his message has traveled throughout Alaska. This year, Mike is being recognized for his efforts. The Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation selected Mike as one of the 2016 Luminary Awardees and he will be honored with the Community Spirit Award at the 2016 Raven’s Ball.
The Community Spirit Award recognizes an exceptional individual who has made volunteering and community service a way of life and demonstrates a sense of caring and responsibility for others. Mike is being recognized for his efforts on sobriety and subsistence rights.
According to the Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation, Mike’s voice is often recognized in state and national tribal gatherings calling for a life of sobriety, free from the substances that impede so many people. The organization credited Mike for making a profound impact on the Alaska Native community and for helping to set the standard for Indigenous people throughout the world. His work on subsistence rights has helped people recognize not only the importance of food, but also how big a role subsistence plays in ceremonies and healing.
Mike will receive the Community Spirit Award at the 2016 Raven’s Ball, which will take place on Saturday, April 2.