Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ride for the Roses Day 2 & Day 3

On Saturday all participants in the walk/run events had to be down stairs by 7:00AM so the bus could take us to the state capital building. This is where the walk/run event was taking place. I learned that when they say “everything is bigger in Texas” is true. Their capital building is 6-7ft taller than the US capital building Washington D.C. It was impressive to see thousands of people on the capital lawn.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) mixed the Challenge and their kick-off for PROP 15 which is a bill for the state of Texas. On November 6th the voters will have an opportunity to vote YES on a bill which will allocate 3 billion dollars over a 10 year span for cancer research and programs in Texas. If this bill is passed it will be, by far, the largest cancer specific bill for any state. [I will post in the future on the steps I am taking to try and get NJ to do the same.]

As we waited for the event to start I took pictures of the capital building and the thousands of participants. It was a very emotional time for many of the participants. There were several there who have just finished chemo or still taking it. Others were there to support a loved one who has died of cancer and then there was me. I was there to HONOR my grandfather, Joseph Harold Wallace, and his 18 year fight against cancer. What a fighter! You hear the LAF always say LIVESTRONG and I can honestly say that is exactly what my grandfather has done his entire life.

Before the walk started members of the LAF gave a few speeches on the importance of the walk/run and PROP 15. Along with Doug and Lance there was Andy Roddick and Mia Hamm. Lance announced he will be touring Texas for the next few days visiting the major cities to encourage people to vote YES to PROP 15. He has his own tour bus that is white and blue and has Lance’s picture on it, called SURVIVOR ONE.

When they started the event I let all the runners go by so they can hit their stride. I can remember walking through the starting line and hundreds of people cheering us on with cow bells. For the first mile I took my time and was busy taking a lot of photos, but at the mile marker I decided to start a fast pace walk. I kept up the pace the remaining 2 miles. It was a great walk. Coming to the finish line the PA announcer called out my name and where I lived. It felt great to finish the walk. As most of you know, I did not finish in the Philly Challenge.

After the event I walked around speaking to a few people and eating several bananas and drank a few bottles of water. I then hopped a bus back to the hotel. Once I got back to the hotel I quickly changed my t-shirt and went down for breakfast. I met a few other people who did the walk and we talked about how well organized the LAF events always are.

After breakfast I went up to my room to take a shower and relax for a few minutes before heading over to the LIVESTRONG Village. The Village was setup at the Austin Convention Center and had a lot of booths and stands to purchase items. I walked through and saw some people I had met at the walk. I stayed for 20 minutes and decided to stop at Champions for a few beers and some college football. Last year when I was in Austin for the LIVESTRONG Summit I experienced college football at Champions and loved it so I had to go back for more. I kept it a short stop and stayed for two beers before leaving walk around Austin. I must have walked several miles before heading back to the hotel.

When I returned to the hotel I made a few calls to see how my wife and daughters were doing and then I spoke to my mom to get an update on my grandfather. As Saturday afternoon there were no changes to his health. It was the same as when I was last with him.

Saturday night I had the fundraiser appreciation dinner back at the convention center. Again, the LAF did an outstanding job thanking the top fundraisers for the Austin Challenge. We had a nice cocktail hour before heading inside one of the halls for dinner. The food was great and geared towards pastas and grilled chicken. At one point of the night some people at my table noticed I was on screen when they showed a video of the LIVESTRONG Summit. I was the over dressed guy so it was not hard to notice. It was great to hear the LAF is planning on a Summit in 2008. I cannot wait! I have already reached out to the LAF and let them know I would be a mentor/table mediator.

Right after dinner I went back to the hotel and hit the bar with a few people. We watched some baseball and college football. It was a long night and lead into a longer day.

On Sunday I was up early, 7am, with nothing to do. I had planned to catch the 11am bus to the LIVESTRONG Challenge so I took a shower and went down for breakfast. I noticed there were still several Ride for the Roses participant in the hotel. I guess I was not the only one not riding in the Challenge. I was outside at 11am with several people. We waited over an hour for the bus and it never came. I went inside and spoke to the LAF representative and he said the bus was going to call him once they left the Challenge to head back to the hotel and to that point he still did not get a call. I waited until 12:15 and the buss was not there so I decided to go back into downtown Austin and visit the sports bar, Champions, once again for some beers, lunch and football.

The rest of the afternoon I spent watching football with some great people and a lot of laughs. In the evening I went back to the hotel and did the same thing with some of the Challenge participants. Though I did not make it to the Challenge I still had a great time with the people I met.

Much like last years trip to Austin, I loved every minute of it. I experienced great LAF events, walked around Austin and experienced FOOTBALL IN TEXAS. There is nothing like football in Texas. I plan on being back next year for both the Summit and the Ride for the Roses.