Here’s how Bill Gifford’s story (in Outside) about LiveStrong and Lance Armstrong begins:
If Lance Armstrong went to jail and Livestrong went away, that would be a huge setback in our war against cancer, right? Not exactly, because the famous nonprofit donates almost nothing to scientific research.
And that’s pretty much it. That’s the “big reveal” of the story. LiveStrong doesn’t do cancer research. Therefore what it does doesn’t matter. Not really.
Because what the millions of people who have cancer, right now, really need is cancer research, right? It’s cancer research that’s going to help them understand their current treatment options. It’s cancer research that’s going to inspire them to be strong and stay positive.
It’s cancer research that called me back, right away, after I filled out a form on a website, because I had found out Susan’s cancer had come back and I just didn’t know what it meant or what to do.
You see my point? Cancer research is important. Very important indeed, to the people in the distant future who will benefit from that research. But helping people who have cancer right now is important too. And for personal reasons, it’s the part of the fight against cancer I want to be involved in.
Do Good Things
I’m not going to do a point-by-point response to Gifford’s piece. I just don’t want to. Part of why is that I’ve been in Chicago the whole week, working long hours. I don’t have a lot of piss nor vinegar in me right now. The other part of why is I’ve had a chance to talk with some pretty amazing people this past week, and I’d like to be a little bit more like them.
So instead of getting all indignant and snarky and stuff, I’m going to tell you a little bit about the life philosophy I’ve been evolving. It’s pretty easy to remember: Do good things.
That word “good” is kind of a slippery one, though, isn’t it? It can mean “kind” or “fun” or “beneficial” and probably a whole bunch of other things. And I mean all of them. I try to live in such a way that I’m usually either doing or planning something fun, or kind, or helpful. And I try to do these things with the kind of people who also like to do good things.
I’ve spent some time during the past few years with people at LiveStrong. And they are people who do good things. I mean this. They are focused on helping people who either have or have had cancer.
They’re good people, doing good things. They aren’t wasting your money. They aren’t cheating you. They aren’t treating what they do like a job; they act like they’re on a mission. I know some of them, and I trust them. I trust that they’re honestly doing what they believe is the best thing they can do with your money to help in the fight against cancer.
And part of trusting someone is letting them make decisions and act on those decisions, without second-guessing them constantly.
For example, in Gifford’s piece, he refers to the LiveStrong legal team taking down someone who was selling “BarkStrong” dog collars. At first blush, that does sound ridiculous. Why waste good money on that? Well, I suppose it’s possible that some people at LiveStrong had a serious meeting at some point and asked themselves, “Are we OK with people taking our brand — the most meaningful asset we have — and turning it into a joke? And if we’re not, how are we going to defend that brand?” And maybe they made a sober decision on what the right thing to do was.
And maybe — just maybe — Lance started and continues to spend a ton of time on LiveStrong because he’s lived through cancer and he’s seen people who haven’t lived through it. I’m pretty sure that if money or fame were his objectives, he could go about getting both of them in more direct and easier ways.
Simply put, fighting cancer is what matters to Lance. It matters to him more than most people really understand. You may be able to ask him a little bit more about that here, soon.
So. I trust LiveStrong. And I trust Lance. Together, they’re an amazing force, and I am proud to lend my energy to their efforts.
Join Team Fatty, Help LiveStrong
So, Team Fatty is going to do the Davis LiveStrong Challenge in 2012, like we did last year. There are going to be incentives and prizes and other awesome reasons to help make the fight fun. But for right now, just do me a favor and sign up. Join the team.
It’ll be awesome celebrating having done something good together.
Do Other Good Things
I know that not everyone will agree with me about Lance, or about LiveStrong. Honestly, though, I don’t want to argue. I just don’t. So how about this: let’s agree that I won’t convince you and you won’t convince me about anything we have hardened opinions on.
That’s the way people are.
But if you disagree with me about LiveStrong, I’ll bet you still agree with me about doing good things. So — instead of burning cycles on arguing — you go give your time and money to whatever cause you choose.
Maybe, for example, you’ll want to join Team Fatty as we support World Bicycle Relief again this year. Or Young Survival Coalition. Or maybe you’ve got something else up your sleeve. Something that is important to you, with people you trust.
That’s awesome. Do it. And email me about it. I love hearing about people doing good things.
But let’s not tear into each other.
But I’d love it if you’d join Team Fatty. Let’s help LiveStrong with the fight against cancer.