Last week, I wrote a fake news post — a piece written from Johan Bruyneel’s future tense point of view describing how he spent (um, will spend?) his two-month enforced vacation. I thought it was a (sorta kinda) funny post, and Johan did too.
A lot of people, though, decided it somehow was the perfect place to express their concerns about LiveStrong. A lot of these comments came from sincere people who just want to make sure their time and money are not wasted; that this time and money really go toward the fight against cancer.
So I contacted LiveStrong and asked a couple people there to take a look at the comments from that day, and to please send back a reply. Rae Bazzarre, Deputy Director, Communications and External Affairs, wrote back the following:
LIVESTRONG serves people and families fighting cancer and empowers communities to take action. We advocate for policy measures and funding to combat cancer on a local, state, national and global level. We provide free, one-on-one, confidential consultation to cancer patients for the host of challenges that accompany a diagnosis, including insurance questions, fertility issues, legal and career concerns and emotional support. We raise funds through our LIVESTRONG Challenge series and Team LIVESTRONG events which provide a community of empowerment for survivors. 100% of donations raised by Team LIVESTRONG participants directly support the foundation. As of January 2011, LIVESTRONG has invested more than $104 million in education and programs, $65 million in grants and awards and $33 million in advocacy and engagement.
LIVESTRONG was founded in 1997 by Lance Armstrong two years prior to his first Tour de France win, as he waited to learn whether his cancer treatment had been successful. To date, the single largest individual contributor to LIVESTRONG is Lance, who has donated more than $6.3 million to the foundation. Lance devotes significant personal time and resources to further the cause of the foundation without any compensation or expectation thereof. He headlines numerous LIVESTRONG events each year and makes appearances on our behalf, utilizes his social media audience to promote our mission, incorporates foundation causes into his professional cycling endeavors and has been instrumental in opening doors for us to establish partnerships that will sustain our activities for years to come. Lance’s efforts have provided our cause a level of global visibility we couldn’t hope to achieve without him.
The LIVESTRONG team is proud of its governance and transparent financial history. Our financial statements, Form 990s and audit reports are all available on our website, as required by law, and we welcome anyone, anywhere to learn more about our history and work at www.LIVESTRONG.org.
You’ll notice Rae didn’t get into the dollar-by-dollar, line item-level discussion that I initially expected (but which would have been a little bit redundant to this post from a year ago), and I think that this was probably the right thing to do, in this context.
Like with politics or religion, people who have given anything Lance-related more than a little thought seem to have pretty hardened opinions. They love him, or they hate him. Opposing arguments aren’t going to change opinions, but will instead very likely just escalate the heat of the exchange.
So why engage in the battle at all?
For myself, I’m just going to say that my experience with every single person I’ve dealt with at LiveStrong has been not just positive but extremely positive. These are smart, ethical people with a sense of purpose and a keen awareness that the money they spend is money someone else gave up. And they do good things, both on macro and micro levels.
For me, that’s more than sufficient reason to continue supporting them.
But here’s the thing: Mark spends both time and money raising money for other cancer-fighting organizations.
And as far as I’m concerned, that’s awesome.
There’s enough bad stuff going on in the world that, frankly, all that really matters is that we each do something good. I don’t care if you’re helping out LiveStrong, or Komen, or Huntsman. Or if you’re working to fight MS. Or diabetes. Or autism. Or world hunger. Or any of any number of critical causes.
Just do something.
(Mark was, incidentally, also one of the people, who, in my recent Johan Bruyneel fake news piece, used my comment space to talk about his donation philosophy instead of saying “LOL!, Awesome post!!!” as he should have, but I’ll deal with him regarding that in person.)
Do Something With Me, If You Want
As I’ve mentioned before, I plan to continue supporting LiveStrong. If you’re so inclined, maybe you should join me. Team Fatty: Fighting Like Susan would love to have you as a member.
But even if you’re not wanting to work with LiveStrong, count on me still wanting your help. I’m going to be branching out a little bit this year. I’m still going to be focusing on cancer, but want to spend my energy in some new ways:
Huntsman Cancer Foundation: Huntsman does a lot of work researching for a cure, as well as treating those who do have cancer. When Susan needed her hip replaced, we went to Huntsman and were blown away by the quality and kindness we saw. This year, I’m going to do at least one fundraiser to help this organization.
Getting Involved Locally: The hospital The Runner works at is hard at work debuting a new half-marathon this year, with all proceeds going to help those who have cancer but don’t have money for good treatment. Both The Runner and I are signed up to be on various committees and help however we can. And you can bet that I’ll be involving all of you, including those of you who live nowhere near Utah. I’ll explain more soon.
The Caretaker’s Companion: I learned a lot as I took care of Susan, especially during her last year. I expect that every other person who has ever taken care of another person with cancer has also learned a lot, and that those of us who have been through this fire could help those who are having to deal with it.
This year, I am going to work on a self-published book — The Best of Fatty — and use the money from it to start working on a website and eventually a book that will help caretakers share tips and insights we’ve gained as we helped our loved ones.
My dream is to — someday — make this my full time work, and it’s time for me to at least take the first step.
Whether you help me with my projects and cause, or you’re busy taking on your own projects and cause: thanks.