Everyone present had dedicated themselves to the mission of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF): to support and empower those affected by cancer. Named for the world's most famous cancer survivor, the LAF focuses on local community-based programs for patients, their families and their treatment.
The June 25th Orange County LiveSTRONG Challenge was the first of five signature LAF fundraising events that will be occurring this year. All participants were required to raise at least $500 in donations. However, with outstanding enthusiasm, the 1,300 athletes generated over $1.2 million in donations for the foundation.
The pre-event pasta dinner, hosted at Oakley headquarters, was especially moving. Personal stories by cancer survivors and top fundraisers were poignant reminders that the disease touches almost every family, and that the LAF has become a vital ally to those afflicted.
The event included bike courses of 10, 40, 70 and 100 miles, as well as 5km and 10km walks and runs, providing options for just about everyone. We tackled the 100-mile ride that toured cyclists from the Costa Mesa fairgrounds to Laguna Beach, east into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, then back through Tustin to the start line.
Although this was a charity event, the route was far from easy. Especially formidable was the 8-mile climb that appeared 70 miles into the ride, giving many cyclists trouble. However, we were constantly inspired by other riders who displayed signs identifying themselves as cancer survivors and by the enthusiastic volunteers manning the aid stations along the way.
Rounding the final turn to the finish line, we were greeted by a crowd of cheering spectators, event photographers and volunteers handing out yellow roses. After some cold drinks and a pass through the LiveSTRONG merchandise store, we returned to the hotel, satisfied with our day in the saddle and knowing that our fundraising had gone to a great cause.
If you're looking for a fun and demanding century ride associated with a meaningful charity, then the LiveSTRONG Challenge is worthy of your consideration.
Upcoming events in the series are scheduled for Portland, OR, Denver, Philadelphia and Austin. Find out more about the 2006 LiveSTRONG Challenge and the Lance Armstrong Foundation at www.livestrongchallenge.org.