Wednesday, October 23, 2013

LIVESTRONG Challenge Austin - A Great End to 2013!

Wow - thank you, Austin and LIVESTRONG!

All smiles at the end of the LIVESTRONG Challenge Ride.

I was lucky enough to be part of the Team LIVESTRONG Challenge Austin event again this year, and even more so, part of the "Ride for the Roses" (RftR) group of fundraisers.

For those of you who haven't been to Austin, Texas - or better yet, to a Team LIVESTRONG Challenge event - this is an incredible city to visit and event to attend.

The weekend (October 18-20, 2013) was nothing short of magical - reuniting with the LIVESTRONG Community, both staff and supporters/survivors alike, attending events both on and off the bike, touring LIVESTRONG HQ - and raising my appreciation and energy for the Foundation to another level.

A beautiful, magical outdoor venue for the RftR Dinner
One highlight was to meet up with Jimmy Fowkes and his family.  Jimmy is the son of two awesome parents, Dan and Margo, and brother to Molly. In January 2006, at the age of 13, he was diagnosed with medullablastoma, a highly malignant brain tumor - and has since been battling recurrences while trying to lead a 'normal' life, growing up and attending college like most kids.  I met Jimmy briefly in 2006 in Portland, during the Portland LIVESTRONG Challenge, since he had won a fundraising award (and our hearts!), and had casually 'followed' both he and his family over the years.  Jimmy was battling a recurrence this time around, and everyone rallied alongside him, wearing our JIMMYSTRONG  t-shirts in support.

Jimmy Folkes delivering his speech during a RftR dinner in Austin, October 2013
[Edit:  Sadly, this was the last time I was to see and talk to Jimmy, who passed away in February 2014 after a long and valiant fight. He will truly be missed by his extended LIVESTRONG family.]

During our Team LIVESTRONG dinner Saturday evening, which was held under a tent in the parking of the LIVESTRONG Headquarters, our team - Cyclists Combatting Cancer - received the award for the team with most funds raised (thank you to everyone who contributed).  Scott Joy from our team spoke eloquently about the Foundation and its mission, and the support he and his family was receiving, following the recent diagnosis of his wife.  Everyone was moved by his words, which further strengthened our resolve to help survivors and their families through their fight.

[Edit:  Sadly - again a sad update - Scott's wife passed the following month.  We continue to hold the Joy family in our hearts and support Scott through this difficult time.]

Dining under a large tent. Pretty awesome.

Another highlight of the weekend was a visit to LIVESTRONG Headquarters, which I appreciate as an architect.  The mood this year was sharpened with a more "we know why we're here" attitude by the staff, who have been working tirelessly to continue the mission of the Foundation in light of last year's events and media scrutiny.  My hat's off to their dedication and perseverance.

Tribute Wall within LIVESTRONG Headquarters
After a few days of Texas heat and heaps of Texas food (how on earth can a vegetarian survive around here?), Sunday morning rolled around and it was finally time to get into the saddle and ride the Team LIVESTRONG Challenge ride.
Ride for the Roses jersey - ready to suit up!

The day started off rather chilly in downtown Austin - in the mid 40's.  Luckily, for this Seattleite, it was a 'regular' walk in the park, so to speak.  Within a few hours it was a beautiful, warm (by Northwest standards - in the 70s) and sunny day.  Perfect for a ride in the Austin countryside!

A cool morning start with friends Steve and Scott.
The photo below at the finish line says it all - a fun, victorious ride.  I rode in memory of my Dad, who passed away 20 years ago - and who I continue to hold dearly in my heart.  But I also rode in celebration of all the survivors and friends around me who truly do not take their time on this earth for granted.

And with that, and a few celebrations in between, I bade farewell to Austin - and my LIVESTRONG Family - for another year, ready to return home to my family, and energized to continue my volunteer work back in the Northwest!

Check in with you all again in 2014 - enjoy the rest of your year!


Team Captain, Ride for LIVESTRONG Seattle
Senior LIVESTRONG Leader

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