Jimmy V to Stuart Scott: #DontEverGiveUp

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” ~Jimmy V

 

I had a full day yesterday. Jimmy V would be proud. I laugh daily. My mind is constantly bombarded with thoughts. However, I do not allow myself to be moved to tears on a daily basis. Mainly because I do not always allow myself time to really sit down and reflect on the things that would bring tears to my eyes. When you hear the word tears, most of us immediately equate them with sadness. Often, when I do cry, it is not because I am sad. Most times I cry out of thankfulness. Thankfulness for my relationship I have with GOD. Thankfulness for my family and friends. Thankfulness for the life I have been blessed to live. In a sense, every day I should be moved to tears because every day I have something to be thankful for.

As I watched my favorite awards show, the ESPYs, last night I was reminded how truly blessed I am every day I am above ground. I watched as athlete after athlete graced the stage to thank countless people who helped them achieve the success they are experiencing. However, despite all the fan voted awards that are given, the award I anticipate the most is the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.

March 4, 1993. The day Coach Jim Valvano delivered a speech that would change how many viewed life. I was nine years old and very much oblivious to the fact that one of the sports worlds most beloved personalities was fighting the battle of his life. As tumors laid rage on his body, Jimmy V issued a challenge to everyone. He only needed seven words, with three of them being repeated twice, to put many on a path to living a life of destiny: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” On that night, as Jimmy V stood giant-like and announced the formation of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, lives of people all across the country and world were being intertwined.

The late Coach Kay Yow. Kevin Everett. Don Meyer. George Karl. Anthony Robles. Eric LeGrand. Dick & Rick Hoyt. Stuart Scott. Some names are recognizable while others are not. What they all have in common is that they share the honor of being recognized with the Jimmy V Award. In 2007, I cried a river as I watched a woman whom I had the privilege to share words, hugs and gather pearls of wisdom from, Coach Yow, accept the award that beared the name of her late friend. I love hearing the stories of people who have overcome or are overcoming obstacles that stand in their way. They are no different than you and I.

Last night, as I watched Scott eloquently describe his fight against the c word, I was moved to tears. My day was complete. I watched as Scott beamed with joy over the fact that “Jack Bauer” presented him with his award. I was watched as Scott proudly talked about the support he has received from his employers and colleagues. I watched as Scott dropped the bombshell on us that he had just been released from a grueling seven day hospital stay three days earlier. Words cannot describe the amount of respect I have for this man. I watched as Scott laid out for us, firmly, his motivation for never giving up: his daughters. As he called for his daughter, Taylor, to join him on stage, I fell apart. Over 3,000 miles away I could feel the love between them as they embraced. As my eyes fell on my yellow bracelet on my arm, the same one that Scott wears regularly, I was reminded that we are all in this together.

{Source: Twitter}
{Source: Twitter}

Something was different about this year’s ESPYs. Maybe it was the fact that everyone’s Twitter handle associated with ESPN was changed to the V Foundation logo for the day. Maybe it was the fact that the ESPYs was honoring one of its most popular anchors. Or maybe its just the fact that as times goes on, I have become more in tune with what really tugs at my heart strings. From Scott’s moving speech where he told us how to beat cancer to US Veteran and hero, Jeff Sweeney, accepting the Pat Tillman Award for Service, the show was full of heroes who embody the spirit of never giving up.

As I rewound the broadcast to watch Scott’s speech again, I flashbacked to a scene that took place about seven years ago in Chapel Hill. I was invited to Late Night with Roy by a member of my extended family. In true Kassie fashion, I ventured over the enemy territory sporting North Carolina State red from almost head to toe. Scott was the host. In true Scott fashion, I was picked out of the crowd and the jokes began. After the event, I got to talk with Scott and he thanked me for participating and having fun with him. As we set to bid farewell, we posed for a picture and went our separate ways.

KSLStu

Back in the present, I once again looked down at my wrist. My yellow bracelet was shining brightly. The bracelet that links myself to Scott as well as others. My LIVESTRONG bracelet. The bracelet that has become a universal symbol for the fight against the c word. While I can not empathize with what Scott is experiencing, my life experiences unite us. My grandfather had it. My grandmother had it. Three times. My next door neighbor, who was like a grandmother to me, had it. My cousin had it. My friend Laura had it. My friend Trinita had it. My colleague Maria had it. My friend Celena just finished battling it. My friend Quincy is battling it. The names are countless. The number of people that have been effected are endless. The lives that have been changed are numerous.

Last night’s ESPYs shined a bright light on the community that surrounds those fighting the c word. As tweets scrolled across the bottom of the screen, including one from me, from people who are fighting or fight for others, I was reminded, once again, that we are all in this together. No one who battles the c word should have to battle alone. We should all fight together. We should all fight to ensure that generations to come never have to experience a life plagued by the disease. We should all fight to ensure that many more birthdays are experienced. We should all fight to ensure that each and every person who is fighting is held up by someone who is willing to fight with them and for them. We should all fight to ensure that Jimmy V’s word will forever reign…”Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Actions speak louder than words. What do yours say about you?

 

Until next time…LIVESTRONG.

 

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{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}

 

He admitted it and cancer still does not care….

Before I went to bed on Monday night, I browsed my Twitter timeline to see what was happening in the world of the people I follow. While browsing, I begin to notice tweets about ESPN anchor, Stuart Scott. I found out, unfortunately, that he is battling cancer for the third time. I immediately begin pray for Scott, his family and his friends. Yesterday morning, I tweeted Scott a picture of us taken a few years ago at UNC’s Late Night with Roy. Scott in his blue and I in my red. Along with the picture, I tweeted well wishes and my favorite Bible scripture, Luke 1:37. I ended my tweet with the word #LIVESTRONG

…………

Sad. Disappointed. Frustrated. I wanted it to not be true. Confused. Deceived. Relieved. We now know the truth. Lance Armstrong was using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) during the time that he won seven straight Tour de France titles. In an interview scheduled to air on Thursday night, Armstrong will admit to Oprah Winfrey and the world that he lied for years. Undoubtedly, Winfrey will ask why and we may or may not get a straight answer. There are a lot of questions that can and need to be asked but it may not make a difference to most.

In a sport where doping is normal, many will fail to understand why Armstrong did what he did. I would assume he did it to give himself a better chance of winning. I would assume he kept doing it because “everyone else was.” I would assume he kept doing it because the more he kept winning the more endorsements and exposure for his charity. Maybe I am wrong but I doubt it.

Back in October when I wrote about him, I supported him 100%. At the time, naive as it may sound, I still wanted to believe that he was telling the truth. He had done so much good that I wanted him to be an “hero.” Back in October my stance was that regardless if he did it or not, the man had raised over 500 million dollars for cancer awareness and research. Back in October, I did not want hear what I heard this week.

…………

Sad. Sad that he doped. Disappointed. Disappointed that he felt the need to lie about it for so long. Frustrated. Frustrated because what he did wrong actually helped churn out a lot of good. Confused. Confused about steroid use, in general. Deceived. Armstrong owed it to his supporters to come clean years ago. Relieved. Breathing a sigh of relief knowing that the initial witch hunt is over.

Now what? To completely dismiss Armstrong means you dismiss what the LIVESTRONG movement means to so many. Yes he lied. Yes he was wrong. Yes he has made his supporters look foolish. And yes there is a good chance that the LIVESTRONG foundation would not be the global force that it is today if Armstrong had not taken PEDs. Did the end justify the means? In the world of public opinion, probably not. In the world of cycling, yes. It was the norm. Maybe Armstrong could have accomplished the same feat without the use of PEDs. Maybe the will to accomplish all these things was inside of him the whole time. Maybe, just maybe, he could have had am bigger impact on the world if he had not used PEDs.

What we do know is that a man who “cheated” to gain an advantage in his sport also gave a lot of people hope. They saw he beat cancer and felt they could to. With one single accessory, Armstrong changed a whole world and made it easy to identify all those who were in the fight, literally and figuratively, against cancer. Is that something we just forget because of what he did?

Before he even asks, I accept his apology. I will never understand why he did what he did nor will I try to. I commend him for finally allowing himself to be freed from that dark place. He could have easily, without any positive tests, taken this lie to his grave but he has chosen to admit his mistakes and face whatever consequences are waiting for him on the other side. Often I remind others that none of us are perfect. We all have our skeletons. We all make mistakes. The true test is in how we respond to those mistakes. Do we let the mistakes consume us? Do we crawl into a corner and wither away? Or do we put on our boxing gloves, get into the ring and fight until the end? I look forward to seeing how Lance Armstrong responds in this heavyweight bout.

Now that he has come clean, going forward there is only one acceptable way for Lance Armstrong to respond…..LIVESTRONG Lance. LIVESTRONG.

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The Weekender…

Hey! Hey! Hey!! Welp, I did not like the way I structured The Weekender last week so I am back to my old format. Here we go!
All it took was three days for “The Lake Show” to implode. They fried Coach Mike Brown on Friday, let rumors swirl that Phil Jackson was coming back then announced the hiring of Mike D’Antoni this morning. I have no words.

The Falcons fell from the ranks of the unbeaten. Mercury Morris popped open another bottle of champagne.

My 9ers tied the Rams, 24-24. Yes, I said TIED!

Texas A&M went into Tuscaloosa and ended(maybe) Bama’s hopes of repeating as national champs. The legend of Johnny Football continues to grow.

The college basketball season kicked off on Friday. Watch out for the Wolfpack!!

Kansas State & Oregon are now 1-2 in the BCS standings. I want Oregon to play for the championship because I know their uniforms for the championship game are going to be tiiiiiiiiiiight.

It was announced this morning that Lance Armstrong resigned from the Livestrong Board of Directors on November 4. Even though I understand why he did it, I wish he had not and I hope he can now live in peace.

Antron Brown made history this weekend becoming the first African-American to win a major racing title. You may now refer to him as Antron Brown, NHRA Top Fuel Champion. Respect.

Three stating QB’s left the game yesterday with concussions: the 9ers Alex Smith, the Bears Jay Cutler and the Eagles Michael Vick. Prayers going up for all.

Brad Keselowski held onto his first place spot in The Chase for the Cup. He can clinch the cup next week with a finish of 15 or better but that was nothing compared to what happened off the track…

Four time champion Jeff Gordon intentionally caused a wreck with Clint Bowyer…then the pit crews threw down on pit row. Wildness!!

The Texans marched into Soldier Field and punched the Bears in the mouth, in the rain. As Roland Martin likes to say, #BullsOnParade.

It has been reported that the maximum number of years the Texas Rangers will offer Josh Hamilton is three. Looks like Hambone will be playing somewhere else.

Former Washington State receiver Marques Wilson quit the team on Saturday after alleged abuse by Coach Mike Leach and his staff. Why do I feel like I have heard this story before?

The Panthers lost to the Broncos. The Panthers O-line were the biggest losers, allowing Cam Newton to get sacked seven times.

My Wolfpack is bowl eligible. I hope we do not get a “cold” bowl!!

The NHL….SMH.

 

Until next time….TOODELLS.

 

Cancer does not care if he did it or not…

He said. She said. They said. The dog said. Enough already. Sheesh. I am so over this whole Lance Armstrong saga I could scream. Oh wait, I did that earlier.

Moving right along. Yesterday morning, I was stunned to hear that Armstrong was stepping down as chairman of the Lance Armstrong(Livestrong)foundation, the foundation he started in 1997 to help those affected by cancer. Even, the public relations major in me was surprised. 45 minutes later, I was stunned again when I learned that Nike had terminated its contract with Armstrong. Initially, I thought that meant they were cutting funding to Livestrong as well but I found out that is not the case. Nevertheless, I was stunned. Just a couple of months ago, after the Untied State Anti-Doping Agency(USADA) hit Armstrong with a lifetime ban and recommended that the be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, Nike firmly stood their ground and reaffirmed their commitment to Armstrong. And then the bomb dropped last Wednesday. That was the day the USADA released a 1,000 plus page document that details the elaborate doping scheme Armstrong was allegedly the ringleader of. Even my mouth dropped open on this one. I have been very staunch on my stance that Armstrong has never failed a test. However, in this era of steroids and performance enhancing drugs(PEDs), that is not very hard to do. Ever heard of “The Clear?” I do find it hard to believe that there are this many people who would conspire against Armstrong and tell blatant lies. At the same time, like I said, he has not failed a test. Who knows what to believe?!

What I do know for sure is that the same man who is being accused of this elaborate scheme is the same man who started a foundation that has raised over $500 million dollars for cancer research and awareness. Let me repeat that, FIVE HUNDRED MILLION. Look, if Armstrong did what they are accusing him of then he deserves to be banned. If there are consequences he has to suffer, then so be it. He does not get a pat on the back just because of his philanthropy. However,he does not deserve and most importantly, what those battling cancer do not deserve is to have Livestrong grouped into this mess. Regardless of how he established the platform to do it, the fact of the matter is that this man has literally revolutionized this world when it comes to cancer. Before 1997, cancer, in my opinion, was pretty taboo. I knew about it because my grandma had battled it but as a 16 year old, I did not really grasp the magnitude of this disease. Armstrong used the platform that he had at the time to shed light on this terrible disease and he did it in one of the simplest forms, he created a silicon gel bracelet. Who could have imagined that in 2004 when the Livestrong bracelet was introduced that it would literally become an international movement? I can distinctly recall going to numerous stores trying to find one only to be told over and over that they were sold out. The Livestrong craze was insane and eight years later, that tiny yellow bracelet is still an international phenomenon. This simple accessory has allowed people to connect in a way that does  not even require you having a conversation about why they are wearing it.

For some, it is hard to separate the allegations from the charity. Armstrong typically rode in cycling gear outfitted with the words Livestrong. His gear was yellow, the main color of his foundation. Cycling, Armstrong and Livestrong go hand in hand. Until the bottom dropped out. It was not until the allegations surfaced that I think people really begin to separate one from the other. Yes, Armstrong started Livestrong but this foundation is much bigger than him and that is what I think is getting lost in this saga. There is a reason he stepped down. He knew the foundation was bigger than him. He knows Livestrong is about the mother who was told she only has six months to live. He knows Livestrong is about the four year old who has been battling cancer since he was two. He knows Livestrong is about the 65 year old grandmother who has been told she has breast cancer. Those people are who the foundation is about. Armstrong was the driving force behind what is now a bigger movement. And no matter what he said, she said, they said or the dog said, I will continue to wear my LIVESTRONG bracelet proudly. After all, it is not about me either.