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Athletic Tribute Events: Stepping Stone or Final Destination?

So what’s the difference between an athletic event fundraiser and an athletic tribute event? The obvious difference is of course…money. An athletic event fundraiser involves raising funds for a particular cause, charitable organization or to assist someone with medical bills, etc. It’s an amazing, usually well-organized, win-win experience that everyone should explore at some point in their lives. In 2012, participants in athletic event fundraising programs raised almost 2 billion dollars, in the U.S. alone. In contrast, an athletic tribute event, whether it be a track walk, bike tour, swim meet or marathon, has a simpler, often informal purpose behind it - to celebrate, honor or draw attention to a special hero or group of inspirational individuals. It may be a family member, a friend or even a group of people you haven't even met. Some participants may focus on the environment as they muscle through their challenge. It’s an effort not particularly geared toward raising money but more toward raising spirits, elevating attitudes, nurturing forgiveness, encouraging tolerance and inspiring gratitude. It may not even be a public endeavor. Many amateur athletes walk, golf, run, cycle and trek all around the world, in private tribute of someone special, everyday. They may journal about it afterwards, share it with close friends and family via Social Media, or they may even keep it to themselves.

An athletic tribute event is a point where athletic endeavors intersect with meditation, passion, prayer, and pilgrimage. Whether it’s public or private, any time someone trains for and participates in a physical activity they are truly passionate about, for a greater purpose, the result is pure magic. It elevates every action and person involved. At times, the thought of approaching friends and family for money turns off prospective participants, driving them to turn back before ever beginning on their fundraising journey. If you've ever been inspired by another’s courage, recovery, persistence, ethics or spiritual nature, consider launching your own tribute event or solo activity as a stepping stone toward a formal fundraising effort.

An athletic tribute event doesn’t require extensive planning, a crowd of participants, expensive gear or complex promotions. It doesn't even need to be “official” to hold great value. Even the simplest physical effort can be dedicated, in your own mind and heart, to someone or something special in your life. You may share your future intentions or keep them to yourself. Either way, rest assured, your kindness and compassion will make a difference.

In some cases, a tribute may even find you. Go ahead and plan a special athletic activity and as it unfolds, be mindful of lost friends, motivational family members, and charitable causes that have impacted your life, but don’t commit to one in particular. See how the cards play out. Often, something will click along the way and inspire the remainder of your participation.

The icing on the cake is often what you discover about yourself in the process of any athletic tribute. Large scale or small, completing a tribute ride, run, walk or swim can impact you in a positive way, for the rest of your life.

For more info on athletic event fundraising programs, athletic tribute events and adventure cycling for special causes, visit www.standingcyclist.com.

Farewell: 813 Words on Larry Davis & Mesothelioma Cancer

This week we say farewell to a friend. Larry Davis, father, husband, elite runner, activist, fundraiser and Mesothelioma cancer survivor is now at peace. His six-year struggle with this incurable disease, caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, ended on Monday morning, July 2nd, 2012. There has already been much written about Larry Davis. How could we not. Larry’s fight brought out the best in all of us who were fortunate to have crossed paths with him. We may have met him, heard about him or were moved by his web posts and interviews. Maybe we were impacted by his family, equally strong and active in the cause to ban asbestos and find a cure for the Mesothelioma cancer that has taken his life. Perhaps his efforts to explore reasonable, non-chemo/non-radiation treatment options got our attention. Or maybe it was simply his life-long passion for running and fitness that stoked our fire. As some of you know, I was lucky enough to team with Larry and his daughter Courtney back in 2010 on a special Standing Cyclist bicycle tour to raise awareness for the cause. I symbolically rode standing up without a saddle from Pittsburgh to Washington DC to encourage others to stand up against asbestos and to encourage donations to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation on Larry’s behalf. Although ill and weakened, Larry ran beside me during those last miles as I rolled into DC. It was truly a pleasure and privilege to tribute Larry’s efforts and help raise awareness for an often misunderstood disease. In my travels, I was surprised at how many people had never heard of Mesothelioma or didn’t know that it’s caused by asbestos. Asbestos, a known health hazard for almost a century, has been woven into various products such as building materials, textiles, automotive brakes, adhesives and fire proofing. Many businesses who had manufactured asbestos products failed to educate their employees on the dangers of this known carcinogen. Asbestos exposure has been a common occurrence, in various industrial settings for generations in the USA and abroad. From pipe fitters to shipyard workers to construction laborers - most often, the portion of our population responsible for building our country from the ground up. This cancer hits hard and takes no prisoners. It's not if it will take your life, it’s simply a matter of when. Among the many victims, the notable include actor Steve McQueen, musician Warren Zevon, NFL player and actor Merlin Olsen and US Congressman Bruce Vento. Even more disturbing, spouses and young people can be exposed to these dangerous fibers while working in factories, transferred from clothing, or inhaled during simple home renovations. As the time bomb ticks on, sometimes over 10 to 50 years, the disease sits quiet and slowly spreads until that day you receive a seemingly hopeless prognosis. My own late father welded boilers in NYC for over 20 years. For all we know, he could have been exposed 40 years back…along with my mother and me… The saddest part of this story is that it could all have been avoided and still can be. There is still not a 100% ban on the manufacturing and use of asbestos in the United States and the rest of the world. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. This fight remained one of Larry’s greatest until the time of his death earlier this week. If Larry was here today, I believe he would continue to tell his story and the story of other Meso victims. He would ask you to contact your local and federal government representatives. He would ask you to raise funds for Meso education, family support services, non-chemo treatment options and for a cure. He would not want others to suffer as he and his family have. We live in “busy” times with big responsibilities and economic uncertainty. I know it’s easy for us to read this and say, it’s very sad and Larry was amazing, but I have so many other concerns. There’s no time and money for a cause I can’t directly connect with. Maybe poisoning ourselves is not enough of a concern. We could almost take that risk and push it out of our heads, but let’s remember that children exposed today may not experience symptoms of this disease for many decades down the road. Let’s consider how our decision to disengage today may adversely affect them, tomorrow. Larry Davis remains a personal hero of mine and continues to inspire me to engage and make a difference in whatever way that I can. Thank you Larry for your strength, your voice, and your willingness to step out on a limb and buck the system. A system that, for various reasons, has failed us in this area and inevitably cost you and many others their lives. Rest easy Larry. Now it’s our turn to stand up and continue to make a difference.

For more information on how you can stand up and take action, while honoring Larry’s efforts, please visit:

http://actionagainstasbestos.com

http://www.curemeso.org

http://www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/

http://www.banasbestosnow.com/about-ban/why

http://actionagainstasbestos/donate

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sunsentinel/obituary.aspx?pid=158377708

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Cycling and the Ego: My BFF?

It’s early morning, 5am. It’s still dark and the air is cold. A few bites of an energy bar and I’m off to battle the rolling hills, rain and the skunks and other little critters creeping around the narrow roadside shoulders. Sound familiar? Not to me. I don’t do mornings. Never had and probably never will. But many cyclists do. What makes us different? What fuels some of us to rise early and others to sleep in and ride later? Why do some of us choose to race toward a finish line, while others tour along perfectly content with passing scenery. How bad do you want that personal best? How bad do you want to win? More importantly, why? I used to think I rode for fun, adventure, the physical challenge, the sense of accomplishment, the camaraderie, and for my overall health and well-being. To help control my stress level, weight, and my allergic asthma. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Well, not my entire story. There’s one more reason I have spent my life training, riding, building bikes, and touring. My Ego. Yes, my BFF and I have traveled the world together, through thick and thin, wind and snow, from the Rockies to Iceland. So much time and so many miles, that I began to take him for granted. Until, one day recently, on a long 90 mile “seatless” tribute ride, when I saw him for what he really is and left him behind. Well, tried at least. He was a tough one to shake off my wheel. At times, when he was out of sight, I felt terribly alone and exhausted. I never realized just how much he fueled my efforts, until he was gone. It was actually frightening at times. After a long while, I became more comfortable with being truly alone and pushing myself forward by sheer will, belief in my purpose, and memories of why I started to ride in the first place, way back when. Suddenly, things got much simpler both on the road and in my head. Is this Soul Work, I wondered. My years of meditation, both on and off the bike, were telling me this was my true nature. Wow, enlightenment. Wink, wink. Very cool. I rolled back to my car in the dark at the end of that long, chilly 12 hour day. I, the Standing Cyclist, had cycled standing up without a seat/seatpost for 90 miles. I was flying high, feeling free and loving life without my old friend. As I was gearing down and locking my bike up to my roof racks, a New York State Trooper pulled up to check on me. I explained what I had done and it blew his mind. He asked more questions and I provided the answers, with speed and excitement. As he drove off, I realized I wasn’t alone on the dark roadside shoulder. Yep, you guessed it. My ugly BFF was back. Ah life, a work in progress…

Larry Davis does it again!

On Sunday February 13th, 2011, StandingCyclist.com friend Larry Davis will direct and participate in a very special event. The 2011 Boca Raton Road Runners Miles for Meso 8K Run and 4K Tribute Run/Walk. This event is to be held in South Florida to raise awareness and funds for mesothelioma cancer research and treatment. Larry and his daughter Courtney have been special friends of and collaborators with StandingCyclist. Earlier in 2010, Larry was the inspiration and supporter of our "standing" bike adventure from Pittsburgh to Washington DC, to raise awareness for the ban on asbestos and funding to cure mesothelioma, the deadly disease resulting from asbestos exposure. A disease that Larry himself suffers from and battles everyday. Please join us in supporting Larry, Courtney and their amazing event this February. 

 

 

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