In some people’s books, he is one of the greatest athletes who ever lived. And not just because he won the grueling 21-day, 3,500-plus km Tour de France bicycle race an incredible seven consecutive times.
On October 2, 1996, at the age of 25, Lance Armstrong discovered that he had stage-three testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. He was given less than a 50 per cent chance of survival. But the pro cyclist battled back to health, going on to become a cycling legend while trouncing his disease as soundly as his competition. In 2005, he retired from racing, but continues to work tirelessly in support of cancer research through various fundraising campaigns and appearances. Among these is the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Tour of Courage, June 22 to 24, where Armstrong will headline a gala dinner and summit ride with local cyclists.
This is Armstrong’s fourth time to Calgary and he is thrilled to be back. “I had wonderful experiences on my previous visits,” Armstrong says. “To be able to help out and have the chance to ride in Calgary and the Canadian Rockies again is very cool.”
Though Armstrong is among the world’s most famous cancer survivors, perhaps his greatest accomplishment is his ability to inspire others in their fight against the deadly disease. Ken Vandean, a father of two and an accountant with the City of Calgary, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer last March. Ken endured two painful surgeries, radiation treatments and 20 weeks of chemotherapy, and still maintaining a sense of humour that has characterized his approach to life. “I’d rather go through life laughing,” he says.
Now, just a year later, Vandean is gearing up for his next challenge—raising $12,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Tour of Courage and training for the 120 km Summit Ride through the Canadian Rockies with Lance Armstrong. He’ll be one of only 25 cyclists to join Armstrong, Canadian Steve Bauer and cycling legend Eddy Merckx. In addition to the Saturday Summit Ride, the Tour of Courage weekend also features a Friday evening dinner where Armstrong makes a presentation, “Lessons in Leadership, Lessons in Courage” to corporate leaders and members of the cancer community. Tickets for corporations is $5,000, most of which is tax deductible. Sunday features the Tour of Courage’s inaugural Community Ride—a spectator-friendly 30, 60 or 90 km ride in and around the city, launched by Armstrong, Bauer and Merckx.
Working towards the lofty goal of a cancer-free future, the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s fundraising initiatives support research, treatment, prevention and screening throughout the province.
TOUR OF COURAGE
The Cause: Raising funds for cancer research, treatment, prevention and screening.
The Date: June 22 to 24
The Headliners: Cancer survivor and 7-time Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong, Canadian Olympian Steve Bauer and Belgian racing legend Eddy Merckx.
The Events: Friday fundraising dinner, Saturday 120 km Summit Ride with 25 elite cyclists and Sunday Community Ride open to the public.
Get Involved: To participate, watch, or sponsor a rider, visit www.tourofcourage.ca or call 262-3200. You can support Ken Vandean in his Tour of Courage by visiting: www.tourofcourage.ca/goto/KenCyclesforCancer—Melanie Jones