If you’re just joining the LiveStrong Ride story, you can read Part 1 here.
Remember when I woke Terry up in the middle of the night with my crazy, fevered dreams? Well, Saturday morning he took his revenge and didn’t turn his alarm clock off. In an attempt to keep away from this nasty cold I’ve got, he was sound asleep on the couch when his alarm sounded a little before 6am.
I woke up with a head full of disgusting sludge and I drug my sorry self to the shower. Surely this has got to be the last day of this miserable cold I thought as I hacked up all manner of things. Let me mention real quick that Aleve Cold & Sinus is my new best friend and the Kleenex with the lotion is a close second.
I finished packing and double checked everything, oh, 861 times. It would be just like me to forget something. Like pants. Or my bike. Once everything was in the car, I relaxed a little bit. When Terry nonchalantly said “I almost forgot to put our front wheels in the car.” I didn’t even stab him. After all, it was the day before his birthday.
After an uneventful drive to Davis with our pals, Nick & Abby, Terry and I headed to the fundraising awards dinner. Team Fatty captain, Elden Nelson, would be given the Individual Champion Award for raising the most money of any single person. He also won the Individual Messenger Award for having the most donors. Team Fatty won the Team Champion Award for being the team that raised the most money. We also won the Team Time Trial Award, measured like real bike time trials by the funds raised by our fifth highest grossing team member. Did I mention that there are only 4 awards given out? Team Fatty swept them all.
So there we were mingling in the crowd before dinner was served, meeting most Team Fatty teammates for the first time. Needless to say, every single teammate I met was funny, gracious and had a great story to share about why they joined Team Fatty. Usually I feel really awkward and sweaty in social settings where I don’t know anyone, but this was different. Fatty does a great job of creating a community over on his site and so as I mingled, I was putting faces to names I’d known for several years. It was more like meeting up with friends I hadn’t seen for a long time and less like sweating in a crowd of strangers.
Just before dinner was served, Terry and I put our place cards at one of the Team Fatty tables. We sat down to eat and to my delight we were at the same table as Fatty himself and his lovely wife, Lisa. At our table were Team Fatty members from Utah, California, New York and New Jersey. We were having a great time chatting and laughing when Lance Armstrong came over to talk to Fatty. Their brief conversation went like this:
Lance: “So, you decided just to win everything, huh? Not let anyone else have any awards?”
Fatty: “Hey, I learned from the best.”
Lance: “Yeah, f*&k ‘em all.”
Fatty: “Damn straight.”
The rest of us at the table sat there for a few seconds with our mouths agape wondering how we were so lucky as to witness the most awesome exchange ever. Then Lance walked away, but not before Terry could touch his arm. That’s right Terry’s hand touched Lance Armstrong. And Terry’s hand touched me. The hand that touched Lance touched me. Swoon.
There were many jokes around the table about how I’d be calling Terry “Lance” later that night. Some jokes are funny because they’re true. Just sayin’.
When it came time for the awards Lance bestowed all four on Fatty and he gave a moving speech composed of reasons why each of us on Team Fatty have taken up the fight against cancer. Fatty was eloquent, humble and had many of us in tears. I held it together until he read my reason:
“I ride in memory of my grandmother who lived with courage, humor and zeal for life. Even cancer couldn’t take that away. Riding my bike allows me to fight cancer with courage, humor and zeal-just like my grandmother did.”**
There it was, the reason I’m part of Team Fatty. The reason I pleaded, pestered and begged all my friends and family to donate. The reason I swung my leg over my bike and trained the last few months.
Later that night as I tossed and turned in bed, trying in vain to find a position that wouldn’t make my head stuff up, I thought back to the awards dinner. Doug Ullman, President of LiveStrong, talked about how the fight against cancer belongs to all of us as citizens of the world.
We all have stories of how cancer has impacted our lives. Some are beautiful stories of survival against incredible odds. Others are courageous stories of loved ones who fought hard for life right up until their last breath. And then there are the stories that don’t have an ending yet, stories of loved ones who are battling cancer right this very second.
Sleep came in short spurts that night and each time I woke up, I thought of what a privilege it is to be healthy enough to fight cancer by doing something I love. I laid in bed and stared at The Rocket just feet away and imagined what our ride the next day would hold. Little did I know, the ride wouldn’t go at all like I imagined.
**Read the rest of Fatty’s speech here. You’ll be glad you did.
Oh and while you’re at it, please take 2 minutes to watch this LiveStrong video and then follow the link to sign the open letter saying that you think cancer should be a priority when world leaders gather for the Global Health Summit this September.