Ten Powerful Letters – LIVESTRONG
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Ten Powerful Letters – LIVESTRONG

(The Verge) – “Unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything.” This is the message that is stressed by a small yellow bracelet and ten powerful letters. The LIVESTRONG Foundation has been deeply affected, in conjunction with millions of supporters, since the United States Anti-Doping Agency publicized their evidence for Lance Armstrong’s doping case in October 2012. Does the message prevail within the heart of the company and followers?

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Lance Armstrong started off the new year interviewing with Oprah Winfrey on January 17th, making the decision to shock and upset his many fans, competitors and endorsers. The ESPN headline regarding this incident states that “sports have taught us to believe in miracles, so we fall for unbelievable tales”. So, when Armstrong won his battle against testicular cancer, got back on the bike, and started a half-billion-dollar charity, many people chose not to focus on whether he was really clean or not. He had come back from a disease that we still know so little about and won the world’s most famous annual bike race seven times. ESPN points out that the second through 60th finishers at the Tour de France are not clean, so it should not come as such a surprise that Armstrong’s repeated denials were false.
People’s moods can be greatly affected by which sports team wins a playoff game, whether the underdog gets a few wins, or if the new rookie makes an impact. As an athlete, the goal is to please your coach, teammates and fans. How is this achieved? Winning. Armstrong trained over eight hours each day during his tour years to earn his title as a winner. In his interview with Oprah, he explained that “once he had won, he was essentially trapped in his own narrative”. If he wanted to keep his legacy going and continue inspiring others, he felt that he had to continue doping after a poor decision that led to his first win. In his view, if someone could beat such a grueling disease and still become an athletic hero, then there was hope for all those who faced an obstacle.
Armstrong cut his ties to the LIVESTRONG foundation two months before publicly confessing to doping. His actions were to prevent tarnishing the LIVESTRONG message. In several articles regarding Armstrong’s detachment from the foundation, LIVESTRONG’s new chairman, Jeff Garvey, stated “Lance Armstrong was instrumental in changing the way the world views people affected by cancer. His devotion to serving survivors is unparalleled and for 15 years, he committed himself to that cause with all his heart.” Garvey supported this opinion by reporting that the Armstrong family had donated nearly $7 million to the foundation and the overall foundation had raised close to $500 million.
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In a comparable hook, comes the story of ‘Jimmy V.’ This infamous figure, Jim Valvano, an early fighter against cancer, was the North Carolina State University basketball coach. He led the team to the 1983 National Championship, but ultimately lost his job during a time when there was an NCAA investigation regarding the athlete’s education. But instead of being remembered for this possible scandal, people look back on his ESPY’S award speech. In it, he detailed his fight against cancer, how it affected his outlook on life, and his ultimate lesson to “never give up”. Armstrong has carried out Valvano’s legacy since the speech in 1993 by never giving up even after his testicular cancer had spread to his brain and lungs. So, instead of focusing on Armstrong’s current confession and mistakes, choose to think about the legacy he was part of. Choose to remember him for creating the foundation that may help solve the mystery of cancer. Some may now believe that the charity was based on a lie, but by losing faith in LIVESTRONG, you are losing faith in the fighters who struggle everyday to try and beat cancer like Armstrong did. Yes, his athletic achievements may be a lie, but his determination to survive is a fact. Let the scandal change your opinion about Lance Armstrong, but do not let it alter your understanding of the life-changing message behind the LIVESTRONG organization.
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