Wednesday, October 17, 2012

For Goodness Sake: Charities and Cycling

Today Lance Armstrong resigned from the charity he founded, LiveStrong. I am not distressed for Lance. I think he has made his own bed. For many years, people suspicious of Lance have thrown stones at the charity. His most ardent defenders are usually supporters of LiveStrong first, fans of cycling second. I confess I have raised money for and personally contributed to LiveStrong since my brother is a testicular cancer survivor. I rode with him at the "Ride for the Roses" in 2004 & 2005

One of the most vocal supporters of LiveStrong is Elden Nelson, i.e. the blogger famous as Fat Cyclist. His recent post on the USADA case refined some of my thoughts on cycling and charities. Cycling as a sport can be very selfish. The sport requires gobs of time, energy, and money. In my view, it is more important for cyclists to contribute to their communities than participants of other sports, if for no other reason than to remind our neighbors that we are good folks, rather than lycra clad road pylons.

I understand how many cyclists would not want to contribute to LiveStrong anymore. Fatties point in this post, and mine here is that you, fellow cyclist, should Do Good any way, at very least in some way.  Here are some ways to Do Good if you hate cancer, love cycling, or want to fight cancer while cycling.

1) Fight Cancer: Cancer is a terrible disease. In truth it is a range of terrible diseases. Most everyone you know has a relative or close friend that has been afflicted with cancer. I've lost 2 close friends, and seen my brother survive cancer, all before reaching age 35. Contribute to the following groups with either money or time to fight cancer:

The V Foundation: founded in 1993 by Jimmy Valvano before he died of cancer. The foundation is dedicated to awarding research grants in the search for cures to multiple types of cancer.

Lung Cancer Alliance: dedicated to research and patient support for lung cancer

National Breast Cancer Foundation: ditto for breast cancer.

Hole in the Wall Gang Camp This is a camp founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, for kids with cancer to have place to be kids. It now serves thousands of kids each summer on site, and tens of thousands through hospital outreach.

2) Promote Cycling: The sport is going through a dark time. But we ultimately are the sport. Cyclists can work together to improve our communities through the thing we love, riding bikes.

IMBA or NEMBA build a trail, improve an existing one, or take a kid mountain biking.

Bikes Belong: advocate for improved bike paths, routes, and safe cycling.

Bikes Not Bombs: recycle bikes, send them to people who need them more than we do, help people learn to build and love bikes like we do.

The Mud Fund: help a young racer take their cyclocross ambitions to the next level.

3) Fight Cancer while Cycling: I understand that you really just want to ride your bike, but a good cause is the best excuse to do it.

Prouty Century: supporting the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Also a very scenic century with fantastic community support.

Harpoon Brewery to Brewery Ride: many New England cyclists know that the B2B is a long tough ride, many don't know that half the proceeds go to the Kenary Brain Tumor Research Fund at Dana Farber Institute. Still 150 miles and a pint of Harpoon at the finish.

Pan Mass Challenge: the grand daddy of all New England charity bike rides supports the Dana Farber Institute through the Jimmy Fund. Take the challenge, at least once.

Get Your Pink On, Meredith Miller. Meredith is an awesome racer, and supports an awesome breast cancer support foundation.

There are lots and lots of other charities & charity rides, many that support cancer foundations, many that support other good causes. I imagine Fatty is going to continue to support LiveStrong. I don't think that I will. But that's o.k. Much good should be done in different organizations. We may disagree on the specific group, but I'm sure that Fatty and I agree that you should Do some Good too, if only for goodness sake.

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