ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Throughout New York State there are nearly a dozen Native American Reservations. In the Western New York area there’s Seneca nation. Often times Native culture is only recognized every so often, perhaps maybe only once a year. However, a new organization is looking to change that.

Founded by professional cyclist Shayna Powless and her fiancé Bills Defensive Lineman Eli Ankou, the Dream Catcher Foundation works to empower the next generation of Native youth through sports.

“I really do believe that Native people are arguably one of the most underrepresented demographics,” Powless said, “With both of us being Native professional athletes, we just both felt a super-strong inclination to give back to Native communities in the best way that we can.”

The Dream Catcher Foundation hosts free sports camps and is now working on its next mission to donate bikes to Seneca youth.

“Obviously, every kid loves a bike. That’s a given, but it goes far deeper than that. A lot of the problems that certain communities may have can stem from inactivity in the youth,” Ankou said.

So far, the foundation has collected $8,000 to put towards the bikes and they’re not done yet.

“That’s one side of our foundation and then kind of the other part of our foundation is focused on raising awareness of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls crisis currently happening across North America. It’s something that not a whole lot of people know about, actually. Quite frankly, very few people are aware of,” Powless said.

The foundation works to spread awareness about the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls crisis (MMIWG) by using their social media platforms to share statistics and updates.

Powless and Ankou said their biggest goal with starting the foundation was to spread awareness about Native culture.

“I think that the main question here is more so being able to understand each other. I think the more people can do their research and do their due diligence with some of these issues, it’s a first step. You don’t need to know every little thing,” Ankou said, “It doesn’t need to be all at once, but one piece of information can really be a catalyst. And it really comes down to understanding each other as people. As long as there’s that understanding, then I think that it can open a lot of doors for people.”

Next month the foundation will be starting a new fundraiser that will run to the end of the year called the Dream Ride Campaign. Folks will be able to pledge a certain amount of money per mile that Powless rides. Her goal is to ride 9-thousand miles by the end of the year.

“We had our turn growing up. We enjoyed our upbringing, and I think it’s our turn to give back to the community,” Ankou said.

If you’d like to help the cause, you can donate by going to thedreamcatcherfoundation.org.