Livestrong bands

State Hornet Staff

On Oct. 22, an icon in the sporting world revered by millions for his dominance in cycling as well as his inspiring recovery from cancer came crashing down to earth.

The International Cycling Union stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles and banned him for life from the tournament after a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found “overwhelming evidence” Armstrong was involved in “the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

Amidst the fallout from the scandal, the embattled athlete has stepped down as chairman of his Livestrong charity, which funds cancer research and provides support to those affected by cancer. Armstrong established the nonprofit foundation in 1997 after his own battle with cancer. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer that spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. He was able to beat the disease and won the Tour de France, the most prestigious race in the cycling world, seven times in a row.

Since the scandal, some former Armstrong supporters have stated they want their money back because they do not want to support an athlete who cheated. CNN reported some owners of the iconic yellow Livestrong bracelet have crossed out the letter “V” so the bracelet reads, “Lie Strong.”

Among these former supporters are Connie and Daniel Roddy of Santa Monica. The couple initially donated $50,000, and then raised another $150,000. Now they want their donations returned.

“I feel we were really fooled. We were really hoodwinked,” Connie Roddy told CNN.

Armstrong’s actions may have tarnished his legacy in sports, but they should not be mixed up with the foundation’s efforts to combat cancer. Giving money to Livestrong is not the same thing as supporting an athlete’s lies; the foundation’s cause has a scope greater than one person and has inspired people throughout the world.

According to the foundation’s website, Livestrong has raised nearly $500 million in the fight against cancer since its inception. This was largely in part to the sale of the popular Livestrong bracelets, which reportedly sold 84 million. The bracelet has been a global symbol of cancer awareness, solidarity in the fight against cancer and perseverance against obstacles.

Armstrong’s efforts helped to reduce the stigma surrounding cancer. With his foundation and the ever-present bracelets, cancer became something people could talk about; a visible problem that could be triumphed over.

There is no denying the impact the Lance Armstrong Foundation, one of the nation’s leading cancer charities, has made on people’s lives. According to its website, the charity has provided financial resources to more than 550 organizations which conduct cancer research or offer services to those affected by cancer.

Charity Watch, which evaluates the work of about 600 charities, placed the foundation among its top-rated charities, a status usually reserved for groups which “generally spend 75 percent or more of their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support (and) do not hold excessive assets in return.” In a financial report for last year, 82 percent of every dollar raised went directly to programs, which totaled to $29.3 million.

In triumphing over his disease, making a comeback and empowering those living with cancer, Lance Armstrong gave hope to countless people the world over. It’s what makes the doping charges difficult to accept because he was believed to have been a man of integrity as well as determination. However, the cause must be separated from one man’s mistakes, for it is too important to back out of.

Whether you still support Armstrong or not, it’s indisputable the impact he made and how he changed the way we look at cancer.

Christine Ebalo can be reached at [email protected].