After a long school year of sports, cheerleading and schoolwork, Seabreeze’s Amanda Driscoll likes to grab her surfboard and go out to the beach to challenge some of the biggest waves, but what she enjoys the most is spending time with her “second family,” the Native Americans on the Crow Creek Reservation in Fort Thompson, South Dakota.
For the last six years, Driscoll and her mother, Sylvia Leykamm, have been going on a mission trip with their Tomoka Christian Church and Diamond Willow Ministries to the reservation to assist the Native Americans with landscaping communities, helping some of them with employment opportunities and getting others out of bad household situations.
“I have been moved by how much I’ve learned to appreciate things and the people around me,” Driscoll said. “I’ve been more thankful for my family and my living conditions, since going to Crow Creek. Most people think they have to go out of the country to help people in need; we can help people in American while learning in the process.”
Driscoll’s love for Native Americans was passed on to her from her mother, whose father would take her and her family to visit reservations in Florida and other parts of the country.
“Being European, it is an honor that the Native Americans have embraced Amanda and me, when we go out there, because of their distrust of American people,” Leykamm said.
The Sandcrab cheerleader, weightlifter and flag football player claims that the Crow Creek Reservation is her home away from home. Driscoll says that when she goes there, she’s surrounded by people who are affectionate and uplifting.
“In my fourth year, my team and I were in a circle talking about what we learned and what relationships we've made, and I knew exactly what to say and how to say it,” Driscoll said. “But, when the opportunity came for me to speak, I was so choked up with tears, I couldn't speak. It's crazy how fast I got attached to the reservation and the people. I call it my second family; I can't really put my love for Diamond Willow into words.”
The Crow Creek Reservation is one of the poorest counties in the country, according to Leykamm. While their trips are necessary for the natives who live there, the journey is also beneficial to Driscoll and her mother.
“Since going to the reservation, Amanda has learned to love others unconditionally the same way she loves her own family like Jesus,” Leykamm said about her daughter. “She has learned to appreciate what she has in comparison to what others don’t have.”
“Going there every year is life changing,” Driscoll added. “I've made tons of friends from other groups and with most of the native kids who live there. My mom and I are both head-over-heels for Diamond Willow and the kids. It’s my favorite place to be.”
Contributions to continue to send Driscoll and others to assist Diamond Willow Ministries will be appreciated. If interested, email Sylvia Leykamm at [email protected].