Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is challenging Iowans to ask presidential candidates if they’ll commit more federal resources to the fight against cancer. "This is a very important state for a lot of reasons, most notably for your position on the political calendar and your ability to be able to engage with the people that want to lead the free world, to ask them questions, to encourage them to address certain things," Armstrong says.
Armstrong, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer ten years ago, says as a cancer survivor he feels an obligation to do what he can to help find a cancer cure and that’s why he agreed to speak last night in Des Moines. "Trying to pull together this group of people and what we affectionately refer to as the ‘Live Strong’ Army and demand change," Armstrong says.
Sixty-five million "Live Strong’ yellow wrist bands have been sold as part of Armstrong’s effort to raise money for cancer research. Armstrong says it is "mindboggling" to consider that one in two American men will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime — and one out of three women will be told they have cancer.
"There are times when I start to think that nobody really cares about this — the yellow-band frenzy is gone and I think ‘Oh god, nobody cares anymore.’ We’re thinking about war, terror, immigration, education," Armstrong says. "…So then last week CNN asked me to write an op-ed…Low and behold, after one day, it was the most-viewed site on CNN.com…What is tells me is that people care about this disease."
Armstrong was in Iowa this past summer to ride in RAGBRAI for a couple of days. "That was the hottest place I had ever been in my life. Fast forward to today," Armstrong said, and the crowd laughed. "…Please tell me that there is something in the middle in this state." Armstrong plans to ride all seven days of RAGBRAI this summer.
"I’ve been to a lot of bike rides, O.K.?" Armstrong told last night’s audience. "Not all of them are races. Some of them are for fun. Some of them are for good causes. Some of them are for no reason at all, but none of them ride every day for a week, drink beer, eat pie, eat pork chops, stop along the way. None of them have cyclists with sails on their bikes. None of them have people who find it interesting to find dead animals along the road and put Mardis Gras beads on them and sunglasses. And none of them are held — this is the serious part — none of them are held in an important state like this."
Armstrong was the keynote speaker at the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s annual banquet. A sell-out crowd of 15-hundred paid to hear Armstrong speak.