RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) – Richardson Bike Mart is the shop that became famous as the source of Lance Armstrong’s first bike.
And like so many cycling fans, store manager Woody Smith was saddened to see Lance Armstrong’s legacy disappear in the midst of a doping scandal.
But, Smith insists that the cancer foundation Armstrong created, Livestrong, and all the people that Armstrong has helped eclipses any controversy. “What we’re focusing on is all the good he’s done.”
Smith and a couple of dozen staff members, family and friends will travel to Austin this weekend for a major Livestrong fundraiser.
“We’ve been going down there to his event for the last 11 years, now, and we’ve raised over $400,000 year to date for his foundation,” says Smith.
Armstrong stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, just minutes before sportswear giant Nike announced that the company was severing ties with the cyclist.
Later in the day Wednesday, other corporate sponsors including Anheuser Busch, Trek and Giro helmets followed suit. But Nike has promised continued support for the foundation.
Charles “Chip” Besio, Director of the Center for Marketing Management Studies at SMU’s Cox School of Business, says Livestrong must carve out its own identity to survive the scandal that now surrounds its founder. “They have to get out front and make more of the good they’re doing and try to move beyond Lance being so tightly associated with it.”
Ironically, Livestrong reported a spike in donations in late August after Armstrong announced that he would stop fighting the doping charges against him and cycling officials moved to strip him of his titles.
Local grassroots fundraiser Steve Nagel says he became involved with Armstrong and his charity after his wife, Lee, survived a rare form of cancer. Together, their Four Foundation has raised some $1.4 million dollars for Livestrong’s efforts in the past three years. He says Armstrong’s decision to step aside was best for the organization to allow the ‘noise’ to settle.
But, Nagel says he is more committed than ever because the mission has always been bigger than the man. “It’s never been about him,” says Nagel, “it’s always been about everyone else and what the foundation has done. This news will slow down and at the end of the day, it will continue to be about the fight.”
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