Today, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I want to take a minute to honor a man I greatly admire. He taught the world to fight for their right, to stand against injustice, to take risks and most importantly to live life with love. He was a true example of a great man, a person to aspire to be.
With this in mind I want to talk about an issue that has been giving me the case of the Mondays everyday but especially today. The issue being Lance Armstrong. Before I begin, I want to make it very clear that I am in no way comparing these two men I speak of. And, while I deeply admire the humanitarian work they each have done, I realize their fight occurs on two different playing fields. Comparing them would be like comparing an orange to an apple, it simply couldn’t be done.
When I hear Lance Armstrong, I think of him as a humanitarian, a philanthropist, and a person who is passionate about others. I do not (and never have) see him as a cyclist, a fraud, or a cheater. While I am very aware that all of these traits suit him, I choose to see the good in him. And, I will be honest, through all of his accusations I trusted him and defended him. I justified it thinking, how could a man who has done so much good for so many people fail at the one thing he is known for? Again, I never followed him as a cyclist. In fact, the only reason I followed him at all was the intrigue I had for his foundation. I knew he was arrogant, I knew people didn’t like him but I also knew that he was capable of so much good. So, I chose to acknowledge that aspect of him.
It saddens me to think that Lance’s mistake on the bike carries over to his foundation. Doug Ulman (CEO of Livestrong) put it so delicately, “Livestrong isn’t about one person. It is about the millions of people facing cancer who need support as they fight the toughest battle of their lives.” So, for those people who are claiming our yellow bracelets are a fraud I ask them, what does that mean? You can choose to disregard Lance Armstrong as a cyclist, but to disregard an entire foundation that gives back to so many cancer patients is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard. Livestrong is the only foundation to give support to cancer patients; it is a beginning step in the battle of cancer, a place for people to turn to for hope, support, courage. How is that a fraud? (further research can be done at livestrong.org).
When I was discussing this issue last week, someone said to me that Lance Armstrong is the face of Livestrong, when people hear Livestrong they automatically think of Lance. Because of this, the foundation will not survive. So, I made this comparison: for a while Michael Jordan was the face of Hanes. When you heard Hanes you thought Michael Jordan. If Michael Jordan was found to be a cheater, a doper, a fraud, would you no longer buy Hanes products? My guess is that it wouldn’t influence you. Maybe your perspective on Michael would be different but it would not influence your purchase of Hanes. Just how Michael’s career didn’t affect the underwear, Lance’s cycling is separate from Livestrong.
Everyone has the right to their own opinion (I get that) but I am tired of defending why it is I continue to support Livestrong. In my eyes, nothing has changed. It is still doing the exact same thing it has been since the day it was created. Before you disregard the yellow bracelets take a look at what they mean. While it is difficult to separate the two, the yellow bands are showing support for cancer, not for Lance Armstrong.
So, as I step down from my soapbox, I ask you to spend this Monday thinking about what it is that you do for people? Do you help support change? Do you believe in forgiveness? Shout it out to me and tell me what you think, I can’t wait to hear. Happy Monday!
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” (Just Sayin’). -Martin Luther King Jr.