OncoLink was in attendance for the The Lance Armstrong Foundation's 2002 annual Ride for the Roses weekend. This event is the LAF's major fund raising event, surpassing $2.3 million in donations this year.
The annual bike race was actually a tradition that began before Lance's battle with cancer. Every year Lance and his cycling buddies would hold a race through the Texas Hill Country. The winner would receive a dozen roses. After Lance founded the LAF in 1997, his cycling buddies wanted to show their support, and created the first Ride for the Roses based on their traditional race. The weekend's events have expanded over the years to include the Live to Ride Gala and silent auction, the Run for the Roses, the health and sports expo, the Kids C.A.R.E. Ride, and the Rock for the Roses concert.
The weekend kicked off with the Rock for the Roses outdoor concert, featuring Stone Temple Pilots, Cake, Crystal Method, Patrice Pike, and Ward. Participants and their families enjoyed this evening of music, food and fun.
Saturday began with the Run for the Roses, a 5K course around Austin's Auditorium Shores. The race had over 1500 participants this year, including many cancer survivors, friends and family. Many participants wore tags stating that they were running or walking in honor of, or in memory of someone who had battled cancer.
The run was followed by the Kids C.A.R.E. (Cancer Awareness and Rider Education) ride. This program, designed for kids in grades 3 through 7, is designed to educate kids about cancer, how they can help friends or family with cancer, healthy habits to prevent cancer, and bike safety. The program has enrolled over 800 children this year in Austin area schools. Over 150 of these kids participated in the program kick off Saturday morning. Lance and Olympic cycling Silver medallist, Mauri Holden, participated in a one-mile bike ride along the Auditorium Shores with the kids.
The Health & Sports Expo, held on Friday and Saturday, featured cancers screening and awareness information, sports gear and apparel. Saturday featured the survivorship panel discussions, which were seen, live, via webcast around the world, on OncoLink. The panel discussion, entitled "Cancer Research is Worth the Ride", focused on cancer clinical trials and the benefits of participation. The first panel, moderated by Selma R. Scheme Cancer Survivor and host of The Group Room radio show, Linda Krebs, PhD, RN, AOCN, professor at University of Colorado and former President of the Oncology Nursing Society, Jennifer Andrade Cancer Survivor & Clinical Trial Participant, Robert Comis, MD President, National Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups, Daryl McKee, PhD Cancer Survivor, clinical trial participant, & Professor, Louisiana State University. The second panel, entitled "Athletes Winning Against Cancer", moderated by ESPN Sports Center anchor Chris Fowler, included Lance Armstrong, cyclist and cancer survivor, Corina Moriau, tennis champion and cancer survivor, and Ron Williams, Para Olympic champion and childhood cancer survivor. This panel discussed the personal experiences of these athletes and their own triumphs over cancer. The recorded version of the panel discussions will be available soon for viewing on OncoLink.
The Live to Ride Gala and silent auction fundraiser was held Saturday night. Chris Fowler, of ESPN Sports Center, acted as the event MC, introducing award presenters and long-time friend of LAF, Robin Williams, who treated the crowd to a stand up routine. Hamilton Jordan, three time cancer survivor and former Chief of Staff for President Jimmy Carter, shared his personal story with the gala attendees. Hamilton was followed by the presentation of the Carpe Diem Awards, four awards that honor individuals who have made a significant impact on the world of cancer survivorship and who have demonstrated the true meaning of "putting hope in motion."
This year's winner of the Champion of Survivorship award is Paul Newman, whose commitment to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, founded in 1988, has provided an opportunity for over 1,000 children to escape the isolation of their illness. The Voice of Survivorship award was presented to Karen Jackson, breast cancer survivor and founder of the Sisters Network, dedicated to increasing awareness in the African American community. Through Karen's dedication, the Sisters Network has expanded to 35 nationwide chapters, boasts 2,500 members, and has launched two successful community outreach programs targeting minority women. The Spirit of Survivorship award was presented to Tamara Stevens, the first patient to survive a bone marrow transplant for leukemia in 1972, and a breast cancer survivor since 1996; Tamara's spirit has inspired many other patients. Tamara has dedicated her time to raising money for cancer research by participating in marathons for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The Pioneer of Survivorship award was presented to Brian Druker, MD, whose dedication to leukemia research has developed Gleevec, a medication that has proven remarkable success in treating patients with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.
Sunday's Ride for the Roses was the climax of the weekend. Over 7,000 riders gathered for the event that includes cyclists of all skill levels, with distances of 10, 25, 40, 70, and 100 miles. Lance Armstrong joined the riders for the first few miles before returning to Europe where he continues to train for this year's Tour De France. The weekend proved to be a very successful fund raising event, and aided in increasing cancer awareness among participants. The money raised will go to support the mission of the LAF, including survivor services and cancer research grants.