by Doug Ulman
To our Foundation supporters, friends and partners:
We can only say, “thank you” and keep thanking you. We are humbled and appreciative for all the calls, emails, blogs, donations, shout-outs, letters and the simple acknowledgement of life’s priorities. These past three days have exemplified both why we are here in service to others and why we will remain so thoroughly committed to representing the cancer fight and supporting people in need around the world.
I was in my college dorm room in the fall of 1997 when I received an email from some guy named Lance Armstrong. He sent me a note after reading about my own cancer diagnosis and experience as a soccer player fighting cancer. This was well before email was commonly used and before the world knew who Lance was. The only things we shared then were that we were young athletes and cancer survivors. After a few years of correspondence, he convinced me to move to Austin, Texas, and come work at his new foundation. Lance was clearly committed to changing things in the world and to serving people. That drew my attention, immediately.
Now, 15 years after he started the Foundation, despite all the noise and public clamor over Lance’s decision not to engage in arbitration and jeopardize his professional athletic standing, I can only comment on the integrity of Lance’s unwavering support—and the requisite need—for a greater focus on cancer. In the most unique way, Lance and LIVESTRONG have leveraged attention over the last 15 years on a disease that everyone reading this has some relationship to. Cancer is the great, ugly equalizer and leading cause of death globally, attacking anyone regardless of gender, nationality, faith or age. Lance’s own story and the now countless other stories we tell openly in our culture have humanized the cancer fight in ways no one could have imagined 15 years ago.
As a survivor, I’m personally thankful that Lance has leveraged his athletic standing in commitment to improving people’s lives. In 15 years, the Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised close to $500 million dollars and worked hard to refocus an understanding of what it means to live with cancer, bringing a global awareness to the mounting need to control a disease like cancer. We have creatively partnered with corporations, nonprofits and individuals to help thwart a terrible disease. How many athletes at Lance’s level have consistently given back for the common good in the last decade? I don’t ask that for praise but rather comparison. The list is small.
As a cancer survivor, Lance decided to confront this awful disease. As a cyclist, his subsequent rise to fame helped grow his life’s work against cancer and share with the world what it meant to be a survivor. And as a cancer survivor, I take those actions much more seriously than any sports sanctioning body in defining the moral weight of one’s whole life.
We will be in Montreal this week at the World Cancer Congress and Lance will be making a major address on behalf of the 28 million worldwide living with cancer. As an organization, we continue to move forward as we always have—cancer hasn’t stopped and neither will we. During the third week of October, we will be celebrating our 15th anniversary in Austin with our supporters, friends and partners. Our future remains focused on our ongoing commitment to providing the programs and services cancer survivors and their loved ones need to take to the fight head on. Please plan to join us in October and let us know if you would like additional information about the week’s activities.
Thank you for your unending support and ongoing commitment.
Together, we are the cancer community.