Livestrong Challenge Eve Part 2 of 2

August 23, 2009

As promised the evening festivities at Turbine Hall were impressive, touching and truly inspiring.  Most of the members of the Gameoncancer high command, as I like to refer to them, were all sparkle dressed and eager to attend the night’s gala and we arrived on cue at Turbine Hall, which is one of the oldest Power Stations in Pennsylvania originally constructed in 1916 and by the architechts responsible for,  “the Franklin Institute, The Academy of Natural Science and the Free Library of Philadelphia.” Here is the rest of the history of  Turbine Hall.

Turbine Hall
Turbine Hall

The evning began with cocktails on the main floor and slowly progressed to the full fledged dinner, which was smorgasbord of pastas, and salads.  This is what the dinner floor looked like, prior to dinner:

 Livestrong Challenge 045

 Drew from Blame Drew’s Cancer opened the evening as he formally, welcomed the crowd to Turbine Hall and introduced John “College” Korioth, who is one Lance’s friends, but also one of the triumverant of individuals responsible for the construction of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. “College” spoke “comfortably” about the construction of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I say comfortably, because you could tell that his arena for public speaking is probably better suited for a one to one situation or a small crowd, not necessarily a formal event.  He kept trying to temper his vocab to make it more gentile for public consumption, but at the same time, I think I preferred the straight talk. He spoke to us about the amazing programs that the foundation has created through the funds that we provide.  These programs include the survivorship hotline.  This hotline allows cancer patients the opportunity to talk to specialists in finding doctors, working through insurance and even aiding you with your financial issues. It also, helps survivors work on reacclamating themselves to society.  After speaking about the wonderful things that the foundation has done, “College” introduced the man of the night, and I’m not speaking of Ethan Zohn, who was the keynote speaker.  I’m speaking of Elden Nelson a.k.a. Fat Cyclist.

Fatty was introduced to a standing ovation and his address to the crowd was touching, moving, and abosultely inspirational.  Here was a man who is/was a renowned cycling blogger, but recently he has added a series of titles to his name: patient advocate, caregiver, and widower.  He has fought side by side with his wife, Susan, as she battled her way through metastized breast cancer.  Unfortunately, for them both, she lost her battle with cancer three weeks ago and now Elden is continuing the fight, in a style that is entirely Susan’s.  Team Fatty entered the Livestrong Challenge at all four locations and raised over $650,000. He and his team swept the awards here in Philly for fundraising. Philadelphia, alone was able to put together a team of 197 riders, of which, Elden hadn’t met any of them, until last night!  

As for Elden’s speech: Elden spoke with the usual eloquence and sincerity of his blog and one could tell that he was fighting the emotion that clearly overwhelmed him at times.  His message was to continue our fight against cancer with the zeal and drive that brought us to this point, much like Susan’s personal battle.  However, he also, stressed that we should be open about  the impacts of cancer in our lives and the impacts on those around us.   I had the opportunity to speak with Elden afterwards and his sense of humility and grace were clearly evident.  This is a special individual and I look forward to the great things that he will accomplish. 

Elden speaking

Elden speaking

I’m sorry this is blurry, but my zoom wasn’t helping.  This picture is better:
Elden and Dave

Elden and Dave

Elden’s comment before this picture: “Do you mind if I stand on a chair?”  He might be short in stature, but huge in spirit and drive! “Allez, Fatty!” Also, I just want to point out that this was one of my missions.  Mission 3) Picture of me with Fatty and/or Drew.  Check! I, also, have a photo of Drew, but it’s just as blurry as the previous Fatty photo. 
After Fatty spoke, Ethan Zohn (of Survivor Africa Fame) spoke.  He was very good, but I feel badly that he had to follow Fatty.  I don’t think anything could have really followed Fatty. Ethan spoke of his experiences in creating (Soccer movement in Africa to help the end the AIDS virus) and also, his own battle with a rare form of Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Ethan, also, discussed the idea of making your personal story known for others to follow and learn from.  He believes that you need to, “own your cancer” and by owning it you will be able help others.  Good idea! Afterwards, Amos Lee played and College spoke again about not holding back in asking for money. I think I’m going to take this advice seriously.  I started brainstorming with other members of the high command on the way back and I think we’ve got some good ideas! I’m looking forward to the rest of this year and also, to preparing for next year.  Below some more shots from the night and of course coming soon the story of the Livestrong Challenge!
My blurry photo of Drew

My blurry photo of Drew

Ethan Zohn speaking

Ethan Zohn speaking


Lucy and Jon on the Yellow Carpet?

Lucy and Jon on the Yellow Carpet?


7 Responses to “Livestrong Challenge Eve Part 2 of 2”

  1. Kat Says:

    YAY! I am so glad that you were able to get the pictures you wanted, albeit blurry. Sounds like a truly phenomenal time/experience.
    If there’s anything I can do to help for next year, let me know. So proud of you!

    • gameoncancer Says:

      Hey Kat:

      Yeah, it was a great time! Next year, absolutely! We’re gladly welcoming all comers to the G.o.C. cause!!! I will let you know what we’ve got cooking!

  2. Barry Sherry Says:

    “College,” you are wrong. Great summary of a great speech but you need to try your advice and not just speak about it. I was at the dinner having raised more than $3K. I wondered what good my money was doing until you spoke about the great programs of LIVESTRONG. When I returned home I called the LS hotline so this cancer patient could have the opportunity to talk to these “specialists.” Instead I was referred to a LS “partner” who gave me a list of 40 clinical trials that I am qualified for. Never mind that many were for a different stage of cancer. Or that I don’t want to be someone’s Guinea Pig. When I called the next day during business hours I received a message to call during normal business hours. This is not the organization that you spoke about nor that Lance created. Very disappointing.

  3. Barry Sherry Says:

    “College” was wrong.

    This frustrated patient suffered from unrealistic expectations proffered by “College.” I just spoke with a program manager at LAF and she respectfully disagreed with his comments as listed in this Blog which I believe were summarized correctly from his speech Saturday night.

    They don’t have a bank of specialists waiting to direct someone to the right doctors. They must thread lightly on tricky liability issues when dispensing advise. They have created some web-based tools but some of those answers have to be fairly vague.

    My take is an educated consumer is not their best client. Many patients without computers or skills to navigate through options will find their information helpful. In my situation, where I already have excellent care and access to Johns Hopkins, the information fell woefully short. Oh well.

    • gameoncancer Says:

      Dear Barry:

      I’m terribly sorry that you are frustrated with your experience with the LAF. I hope that you continue to find success in searching for answers and that your treatment progresses in a positive manner. Please know that I’m thinking of you and praying for your speedy recovery/remission.


  4. cancer Says:

    Smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body, is linked to at least 15 different cancers, and accounts for some 30% of all cancer deaths. And it costs billions of dollars each year. Lisa Hundley

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