Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Philadelphia LiveSTRONG Challenge 2007

This weekend Jim and I drove to Philadelphia, PA to ride in the 2007 LiveSTRONG Challenge with the Cyclist Combating Cancer Team. We had a wonderful weekend and did some bike riding through the *beautiful* Pennsylvania countryside. The bike course itself was what I would classify as *Rolling*. Some up hill, some down hill but nothing too extreme. Just Right!

We drove up Saturday, and thanks to traffic in Delaware, arrived at the LiveSTRONG Village around 3:30pm or so. We have enough time to pick up our registration materials, add my Uncle Jim to the Memory Board and to the Live STRONG Chain and stop to talk to Larry and Cathy B., whom we had not seen since the 2006 LiveSTRONG Challenge. It was wonderful seeing Larry and Cathy right away since they were the first CCC teammates we met last year and we spent some time catching up.

In loving memory of Uncle Jim

After registration, we found out that we barely had enough time to check into the hotel and then we had to battle traffic again to make it to the LiveSTRONG Challenge Fundraising Award Dinner. We made it to the dinner this year with about 5 minutes to spare and met up with teammates Scott J. and Brenan C. We sat with Scott, Brenan and TC Forum friends of Scott's, Joe and Jim and Scott's special guest's Danny and his brother Mike. Danny is fighting an aggressive form of Testicular Cancer and literally finished CHEMO treatment and then drove with his brother from NYC to arrive for the Dinner and the Challenge - a shining example of LivingSTRONG!

At the banquet, Scott was awarded the 2007 LiveSTRONG Challenge Philadelphia Messenger Award. The Messenger Award is presented to the fundraiser who has the most individual donors. Scott raised over $15,000 and reached out to more than 220 people. It was nice to see his efforts and hard work acknowledged with a beautiful framed jersey and congratulations from Lance Armstrong himself. It was a pleasure to be able to share that experience with Scott.

Scott J., 2007 Messenger Award Winner

Brenan C., Holly & Jim

After the banquet, Jim and I headed back to the hotel to wind down and rest before an early morning wake-up call.

Sunday was CHALLENGE Day! We were up and out the door by 5:50AM, trying to avoid the parking issues we ran into last year that made us so late. We were successful and within 20 minutes we were parked and looking for the Breakfast tent. We ran into a bunch of teammates on the way and after a stop to say Hi and grab some water and fruit, we headed back to the car to unload the bikes and get ready to ride.

Even with being early, we putted around at the car enough to just barely miss the CCC Team Photo at the start line. D'OH! Scott, however, gathered as many people together as he could and we took a second set of picture so we were at least able to be in one of the two CCC Team Photos!

Team CCC (take 2!)

Jim, ready to roll...

Holly & Scholange

At the START!

Mary T. & her sisters - LiveSTRONG!

Then Jim and I went to our respective corrals for our wait start (Jim - 70 mile ride and Holly - 40 mile ride) and WAITED along with everybody else for the Challenge to officially get underway. Finally about 30 minutes later than planned, we were rolling over the start line and onto the ride.

The course, as I said, was just beautiful. Long stretches of open road, every major intersection manned by local police to stop traffic for oncoming bikes and beautiful rolling Pennsylvania country side. You couldn't ask for a better ride and the weather cooperated by being slightly overcast.

I even got a chance to see Lance Armstrong riding his bike! Of course he was already headed back to the LiveSTRONG Challenge Village - having started with the Century groups (100 miles) and turning off to continue on the 40 mile route to be back for interviews and the post-event party. It was a thrill to see him on the bike, just across the road from me - even if he was going twice as fast as I ever could!

My pace this year being slow as it is, worked out well this year. I meant that within 10 minutes of finishing my 40-mile bike ride, Jim finished his 70 mile bike ride! This gave us time to change and enjoy the post-race party unlike last year and this year there was an extra special reason I wanted to be at the post race party! There was a good chance I might get to meet Lance Armstrong in person!!!

You see back in late May, Scott J. had approached me about helping to design a CCC Team Jersey to commemorate the 2007 Live STRONG Challenges that we were doing in Philly,PA, Portland, OR and Austin, TX. With a super tight deadline on the table, Scott J., Phyllis O'G. and I worked as a creative team to design a CCC Jersey. We were pretty darn proud of the finished product and this year the Live STRONG Challenge decided to hold a TEAM JERSEY COMPETITION. So we entered our design and hoped for the best.

Before the weekend ride, I already knew that the jersey was one of the TOP THREE FINALIST.

On Sunday afternoon, they announced that our jersey design won!! I got to accept the award on the teams behalf from Lance Armstrong and the team gave me the framed jersey to keep.

Of course being the doofus that I am, I was so excited that I shook hands with the director of LAF, Doug Ulman, first and then when he gestured to Lance behind me, I thought he was offering a hug. So I gave him one. They laughed and said "Well do you want to meet Lance? He is right behind you."

D'OH! Only I could do something like that ...

Saying a little something to the crowd...

Lance made a joke, I'm not the only one laughing!

Not only was it pretty cool to FINALLY meet Lance in person, the jersey came out beautifully and I was SO PROUD to see it on my teammates and know that it is going to be worn by CCC teammates in two more LiveSTRONG Challenge Events across the country this year.

So to sum up this weekend:

• I got to meet some more amazing people who Live STRONG everyday in the face of cancer

• I got a chance to honor the memory of my Uncle, Jim Bowdish - a true LiveSTRONG HERO

• I got to enjoy a beautiful 40 mile, excellently supported ride in on Sunday through the PA Montgomery County region

• With your help, we raised over $3,300 for LAF this year and a total of $2.4 million for LAF at the Philly Challenge alone...

• I got to meet my hero, Lance Armstrong and I got to hug Doug Ulman (who happens to also be the *Ulman* of the Ulman Cancer Fund through whom I am funding my CANCER to 5K program!!)

I'd say that is a heck of a weekend huh? Life is Good! Live STRONG!


Bolder said...


you truly are living strong!

i am SOOOOO proud of you Holly!!

Carver said...

Hi Holly,

What a wonderful post to read. All that and your jersey design won too! I couldn't be happier for how it worked out for you to be part of such a great cause and to do the ride in your Uncle's memory is wonderful. I loved the story about you going for the hug and ignoring Lance although of course unintentionally. Too funny. Great post, great pictures, great event for you to be part of.

As ever, Carver