by Doug Ulman
The last few days have been a much needed respite for many of us from the non-stop presidential politicking. It has been so intense and in some areas it continues but for most, including myself, it was nice to catch my breath. I spent several days last week meeting with our incredible partners from Nike. Every year the group at Nike that works most closely with the LAF comes to Austin for an off-site to plan their strategy for the coming year. Obviously an iconic brand, Nike represents so much more to everyone at the LAF. We were a passionate organization making a difference prior to the invention of the yellow band but now we are a more much more widely known enterprise focused on social change. Many of the opportunities we have today are a direct result of their support and their vision. Let’s be honest, no one knew that the yellow band would be a cultural and philanthropic phenomenon. No one. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. That said, we are blessed with a world-class brand and a chance to reach millions of people with a message of hope and inspiration. The incredible folks at Nike are teammates, partners and members of our family. They are as committed as anyone to our mission and they want to see results just like we do.
This weekend I was meeting some friends to run and as I was stretching I noticed that my now thin, worn out yellow band slipped off my wrist. I decided right then and there to retire that original band. It had been on my wrist since the LAF Gala in Austin on April 21, 2004. Yep, on my wrist. It had never been off my wrist. Never. The letters are worn down. I thought the band had broken several times. Luckily it survived. Most people don’t understand why I made such a big deal about this exact band knowing that I had plenty of others I could put on. What they didn’t realize is that the first batch of bands, a few thousand, were made with the Nike swoosh on them. It was a constant reminder to me of their support. It also was a constant reminder of their selfless commitment to the cause.
As a cancer survivor diagnosed more than 11 years ago, I am able to say that nothing has transformed the social stigma of cancer in the last decades like the yellow band. I have a new one on now and my original will be kept in a safe place for the rest of my life. I am proud to wear it all the time.