by Chris Brewer
Greetings from New Orleans, an area that’s becoming a home-away-from-home for the LAF… it started last year when we were contacted by a group of four local friends and riders who wanted to do something to honor Harold and Carol Asher’s cousin Josh Lipschutz, a young adult brain cancer survivor. That effort – riding 150 miles in one day around Lake Pontchartrain raised over $40,000 and truly challenged the quartet (and me personally as I joined them!) but set the stage for bigger and better things…
The original five: Chris Brewer, Doug Thornton, Harold Asher, Mickey Allweis, and Bill Schwartz in 2008
Flash ahead to 2008 and the entire LAF staff headed to NOLA with Lance for two very special reasons. Lance ended his time on the President’s Cancer Panel with a final session in the French Quarter, and the staff joined hands with Habitat for Humanity to help those who had been displaced by hurricane Katrina. And our fine folks from the newly named “Tour de Lis” project were on hand, including an amazing reception and presentation by Superdome manager Doug Thornton, another of the four original riders.
All of this effort lead to the big day in the Big Easy April 12 as the group put together a closed-loop family-friendly 9 mile ride for four hours along the Lakeside shoreline. The event had grown from 5 riders to over 500, and fundraising literally quadrupled. All was ready and in-place until Mother Nature and the Lady of the Lake played their hands… an early morning thunderstorm rolled through town literally an hour before the event, churning the massive lake and sending waves, mud and debris across much of the course. Since rider safety is always the #1 concern, the Levy Board determined that between the debris on the road and the high winds still blowing, it was too much to send out such a diverse group of riders onto the roads.
This story could end with disappointment and despair as a lot of hard work went for naught. But that simply is not the attitude of this community, and instead they focused on the positive and what they can do in the future. All the event leaders took a ceremonial lap before cleaning up and then Carol issued a message to all their great supporters: “Inaugural Tour de Lis Raises $160K To Fight Cancer: Inclement weather could not prevent the Tour de Lis from being a “yellow jersey” success this past Saturday. …The Tour de Lis proved, “it’s not about the ride, it’s about the cause.” A “ride with a purpose,” the Tour de Lis was designed by volunteers whose lives had been touched by cancer. Beneficiaries of the event included the Cancer Association of GNO; the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Planet Cancer. Our organizers are extremely appreciative of the overall participation and support of this year’s Tour contributors, registrants, and volunteers and plans are already underway for next year’s event. They anticipate a great 2009 event and sunny skies.
And so it’s good to be back “home” in New Orleans. After all, while the city is certainly rich in history and culture it’s the people like those who put on the Tour de Lis that make it so welcoming. And as I head back to Austin I find I’m already looking forward to my next trip back to NOLA and all the great things this vibrant community has to offer. LIVESTRONG!