Archive for May 24, 2011

Lance Armstrong.

Even his name seems to speak toward something significant.

If you live in Austin as I do, Lance is more than just a home-town boy “done good”, as we say here in Texas.

It is almost as if the legend of Lance has surpassed even the greatness of the man’s achievement, and that in and of itself is a tall, tall order.

Everyone knows his story and even still, his achievements leave us dumbfounded.  Who can possibly achieve such amazing athletic accomplishments in one of, if not the most challenging, endurance sports in the world?

Livestrong Austin Marathon Bib


On October 2, 1996, then aged 25, Armstrong was diagnosed as having developed stage three testicular cancer. The cancer spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. On that first visit to an urologist in Austin, Texas, for his cancer symptoms he was coughing up blood and had a large, painful testicular tumor. Immediate surgery and chemotherapy were required to save his life. Armstrong had an orchiectomy to remove his diseased testicle. After his surgery, his doctor stated that he had less than a 40% chance of survival.

But survive he did.

Lance won the Tour de France each year from 1999 to 2005 and is the only person to win the event seven times.  In fact, no other cyclist has won the Tour more than 5.

We love winners in Texas.  Who doesn’t?

But it was Lance’s mixture of athletic prowess and humility that made him so universally admired, loved and respected.  When he established a foundation to help in the mission to defeat cancer around the world, is it any surprise that the Livestrong Foundation has had the impact and incredible success since it was established in 1997? 

$400 Million dollars raised, which does not take into account the awareness that Livestrong has brought to the disease and the amount of public funding that has gone to cancer research and treatment.

Would Run for Dom ever taken place without the Livestrong Foundation leading the way, setting the example?  Would we have been able to raise more than $33,000 for Dom’s children last year?  I highly doubt it.

Now retired from the sport as a professional, Lance is battling once again.  Fighting for his legacy amid doping allegations.  Despite having passed more than 500 blood tests over his career, now there are more former teammates and competitors coming forward than ever sharing stories that Lance had cheated and in some cases, encouraged teammates to do the same.

Of course none of us want this to be true.  Personally, as much as I would like to believe Lance, my 43 years on earth tell me that more likely than not, he participated in some of the activities that he is being accused of.

This tears at me today as I truly wish that the rumors and accusations are untrue.

In a world with far too few “heroes” for our children to look up to.  I would like to think that there is one right here in my hometown that my daughter could grow up and admire. 

Someone who not only worked hard to achieve their goals, but also did not give up when everyone told them that the dream they had was impossible.  That giving up is simply not an option.  You have to fight for the things that you truly want in life, and that nobody has the right to tell you any different.

I think back to the night before the Pittsburgh Marathon last year, when I stopped down to Dom and Val’s hotel room to collect them for dinner.

Dom was lying down on the bed resting when I entered.  He stood up to give me a hug hello and he draped his narrowing arms around my shoulders.  From his left wrist hung a yellow Livestrong bracelet.

To me, that is who Lance Armstrong is.

He is the man who worked incredibly hard to give my good friend hope.  He inspired Dom to believe that he should try one more treatment, talk to one more specialist, and go through one more round of chemotherapy.  Just one more procedure.

Dom believed that anything was possible.  And nobody had a right to take that away from him.

In the end, all we had was hope.

Regardless of what comes of these allegations, that is who Lance Armstrong is to me.

Lance.  Thank you.  Without your efforts, I know we would have had even less time with Dom than we did in the end.  I’m forever grateful.