Remember when you found out that Santa Claus was not "real"? Or maybe you remember when you had to tell your kids the truth about Santa and his cohorts and your kids were heartbroken?
This is where I am at with Lance Armstrong. I am so sad that he had been doping all the years during his Tour days. I want to believe that he did not dope or do performance enhancing drugs or was the ring leader in his team's drug dealing. I also want to believe that Santa is real and can come down my chimney with everything I want for Christmas. "People" like this will forever be in a corner of my heart where I wish things were true, but are not.
A girl can hope, right?
Why, you might ask, is Lance even on my radar or the least bit important to me? He was there when my family needed him most. The day my brother found out he had cancer, my sister and I jumped in the car and drove 2 hours to be with him. We made a stop on the way to Barnes and Noble to buy It's Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong. We had always been watchers of the Tour de France and truly enjoyed Lance's energy. This book was our guide to what cancer was like and how we were going to help our brother fight it.
After my brother kicked cancer in the ass, he rode in Lance's Ride for the Roses in Austin, Texas. My sister and some of his friends went to support him. They had so much fun that my sister, mom, dad and I went the next year when he rode. We went to a big Livestrong trade show, a talk about cancer, enjoyed Austin to it's fullest and cheered on the thousands of riders along the 100 mile route. There was so much yellow there. As the riders came through the finish line, there was a section for survivors. Each survivor was given a yellow rose. Karen gave it to him the first year, my mom gave it to him the 2nd year. I cannot even describe the grace in the air there that day. It was magical.
We all continued to cheer Lance on through the alps at every stage of the Tour. He said once when asked about enhancement drugs that he had survived cancer, why would he do horrible things to his body with doping, etc. This is not, of course, word for word, but something I remember him saying at some point in his career. And I believed him.
The Livestrong rides got so big, that they broke them down into areas of the country. My brother decided that it might be better to ride local, so he has ridden in the Pan Mass Challenge for 6 years or so. The constant in all this is his bike. He rides and raises money, so other people have the chance to ride or walk or run or just plain live.
Lance gave us a gift. The gift is the Livestrong foundation and the will to survive cancer. Is he a bad man for doping? No. He made a bad decision to dope. He lied, which is one of my really big pet peeves. However, did he bring a name to American cycling? Yes. Has he brought hope to so many people with cancer? Yes.
I will continue to keep him in that little piece of my heart with Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny: things I wish were real that I really cannot let go of.