Monday, July 25, 2005
I am not sure what I watched this weekend on the final day of the Tour de France. All I know is that I understood it was historical and that it was worth getting up early to see the same way that Wimbledon used to be when Borg played McEnroe.
Athletically I am not sure what I watched. Was it DiMaggio 56 game hitting streak, was it the Celtics of the 60’s, was it Jordan or was it Edwin Moses running the hurdles.
Really that might not matter. What I do know is that I was watching the first great sportsman of the 21st century. I was watching a man, who has changed the world, changed people’s lives, changed the face of cancer and changed the way we all face a challenge.
I was watching a man that started a phenomenon with the $1 yellow stay strong bracelet and now 50 million later the bracelet has become a way to have your voice heard.
I was watching a man who on Oct 8th of 1996 faced the microphones with less then a 50% chance to live and testicular cancer that had spread to his brain tell us that “I want you all to know that I intend to beat this disease, and further, I intend to ride again as a professional cyclist," Lance said at a news conference on Oct. 8, 1996, in Austin, his face steeled with determination. "I want to finish by saying that I intend to be an avid spokesman for cancer research and awareness, particularly testicular cancer, once I have beaten this disease."
And boy has he ever, and with such vengeance. He taught us to stay strong.
Athletically who he is and where he ranks may not matter. Instead, he has had an impact and he has touched real lives.
Over the past two years I watch a family down the street where their yellow bracelet as their young 8-year-old son battled cancer. I watched as the dad started bike racing as a release and way to reach out to the power of Lance.
Lance Armstrong has changed our world – he is why breast cancer survivors run marathons, why people under treatment still swim their daily laps, he told us you could beat the most evil of disease. He told us that the human spirit is the strongest in the world not some venomous evil diseases.
The most recent Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer it stated that the risk to U.S. citizens of developing cancer and dying from it was in decline. It added that survival rates for patients of many cancers were on the rise. The tens of millions that Lance’s foundation has raised have to be a part of it.
But you have to wonder if his power on a bicycle is most of it. Where Lance Armstrong ranks, where his achievement place him in the athletic sphere are irrelevant.
What we watched yesterday was a real life metaphor; we watched a faith giver.