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Running camp offered at LR Elementary


Hannah Tomeo, right, laughs while her father, Damien Tomeo, leads the adults in a bout of tug-o-war against about 25 children during running camp at Lake Roosevelt Elementary on July 25. The children won the match. - Jacob Wagner photo

Hannah Tomeo, an accomplished runner for Mead High School's track team this past year, and who signed with Portland State University to run in track and cross country, is hosting a running camp this week at Lake Roosevelt Elementary to help kids find a similar love of running.

This is the first time Tomeo has run the third- through eighth-grade camp, which is sponsored by We R Native, an organization that promotes health in Native American communities. One of the values listed on the organization's website states: "I am Strong in Mind and Spirit. By sharing with one another, we can teach each other lessons about self-confidence, self-respect, pride, courage, and spirituality." Other values listed on the website are "we are native," "I control my body," "we are not alone," and "we can change our world," all of which are expanded upon on the website.

Tomeo, a member of the Colville Tribes, was born locally and has stayed many summers with grandparents Kim and Butch Stanger. Tomeo says We R Native's message is aligned with hers, and she wants to be a good role model and set a high standard for Native American youth in particular, although the running camp has non-tribal participants as well.

"Running was a way to help me get through everything, help me prove myself, change my stereotype," Tomeo said. "To be not only a good athlete and a good student, but a Native American. I feel like that should be the standard for our people."

Tomeo said she experienced discrimination against her race while in high school in the Toppenish area on the Yakima Indian Reservation.

"The coach was very tough on me; she didn't like Indian runners," Tomeo said. "There were a lot of negative stereotypes there."

The coach wouldn't let Tomeo run, which led to her quitting the team in her sophomore year. "I felt defeated, like they took this thing from me," Tomeo said.

Clearly, that coach made a huge mistake, as Tomeo went on to be an accomplished runner, and continues to be, having success for Mead High School and running in the Foot Locker West Regional, which invited runners from many Western states. She also placed third in the Nike Cross Nationals Northwest Regionals.

"Running is in your blood if you're Native American," Tomeo continued. "It should be a healthy way of life. You have to eat healthy; you have to get good grades to be a runner. It teaches you mental toughness. Here, suicide is a huge thing, and running gives you those positive endorphins. Running is a healthy outlet for people. It's helped me through a lot of things and I know it can help these kids."

Tomeo is joined by her father, Damien Tomeo, as well as other athletic young adults, who are teaching the kids to have a positive attitude, and engaging in other activities such as tug-o-war.

The camp only runs from Tuesday, July 25, through Thursday, July 27, and registration is required to participate. For more information contact Hannah Tomeo at 509-808-9450 or Damien Tomeo at 509-209-6079.


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