Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

John Romano: Lance Armstrong's reputation is ruined, but his impact is very real for some

The apology, if it comes, may well be self-serving.

Heaven knows, when it comes to the question of drug tests and cheating, most of Lance Armstrong's previous explanations, threats and lawsuits have all been designed to protect a carefully constructed and, as it turns out, fabricated image.

He has destroyed the careers and credibility of too many others in a selfish attempt to perpetuate a decade's worth of heartfelt and utterly convincing lies.

So, no, I don't have a ton of interest in hearing what the disgraced cycling champion has to say on this topic in a much-anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey tonight.

His integrity already in doubt, his sincerity will forever be open to debate.

But what of his impact?

Far beyond the Tour de France titles and Olympic appearances is the legacy of Armstrong's foundation. His fundraising. His Livestrong bracelets and brand. His harrowing tale of survival that inspired cancer patients throughout the world.

Go back 10 years or so to an oncologist's office in North Pinellas. To a room where cancer patients gathered to have toxic meds pumped into weakened bodies.

Kit Meador was a nurse searching for ways to provide hope to the hopeless. Her interest in triathlons led her to Armstrong's website, and that is where she discovered the phenomenon of plastic, yellow Livestrong bracelets for cancer awareness.

Meador spent $100 to buy her first batch of bracelets and began handing them out to patients. Soon she had a vintage Lance Cookies jar in the office to raise money to buy more bracelets and spread the message of facing cancer by living strong.

"I see some of those patients today, years later, and they're still wearing their Livestrong bracelets," said Meador. "That's how much it has meant to them.

"What those bracelets represented is still very relevant to them. It's an indication of how they lived through some of the worst days of their lives, and how they want to continue living today."

The patients in those rooms may have only shared an enemy and a hero, but that was more than enough. Armstrong's name was as familiar as their disease. His books and story, too. It wasn't the mountainous route on the Tour de France that was important, but the journey Armstrong took to get there after a battle with testicular cancer.

At a time in their lives when there was little cause to be optimistic or thankful, it was Armstrong who provided a reason to believe.

"I understand how people feel about him today, but I see him through a different perspective," said Renee, a cancer survivor who asked that her last name not be used for fear her medical history might have repercussions in her new job. "His book helped me through some of those times. It helped me feel like I wasn't alone.

"I wear my bracelet every day. I don't take it off for any reason. It's more of a message than a reminder. It tells people you can beat this if you are willing to live strong."

If you watch Armstrong on TV this evening, you may find yourself wondering if it was all worth it. If the deceptions that made him rich and famous were worth the subsequent fall from grace.

To a certain group of people, it's not even a question.

"However many people he lied to," said Meador, "he helped far more."

John Romano: Lance Armstrong's reputation is ruined, but his impact is very real for some 01/16/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 8:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clearwater man hospitalized after diving from boat into shallow waters

    Public Safety

    A 49-year-old man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries Sunday after he jumped off a pontoon boat into shallow waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

  2. Restaurant review: Features Gastropub in Riverview is fine as movie theater fare, but unimpressive otherwise

    Food & Dining

    By Laura Reiley

    Times Food Critic

    Movies aren't exactly dying. Despite all the sturm und drang of predictions that Netflix and streaming videos would kill the cinema, global box office receipts hit $38.6 billion in 2016, a 1 percent gain over the previous year. But that doesn't mean going to the …

  3. JFK's last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht

    Nation

    It has been 100 years since John F. Kennedy's birth on May 29, 1917, at his parents' home in Brookline, Mass., just outside Boston. Over the course of his life, Kennedy enjoyed lavish birthday celebrations, the most famous being a Democratic fundraising bash at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, when a sequined …

    President John F. Kennedy aboard the Sequoia in 1963 opening birthday presents. [Robert Knudsen | John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum]
  4. 1 in 4 Florida adults aren't registered to vote, according to non-partisan group

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Five million people in Florida who are eligible to vote aren't registered, according to a nationwide non-partisan group that helps improve the accuracy of state voter rolls.

    Voters line up in front of the Coliseum Ballroom in St. Petersburg on Nov. 8. A non-partisan group estimates that more than a quarter of Florida's adult-age population isn't registered to vote. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win

    Blogs

    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays celebrates as teammate Michael Martinez slides safely into home plate to score a run against the Minnesota Twins during the 14th inning.