Livestrong Foundation

Clay Johnston, Dell Medical School dean, discusses the Livestrong donation at a press conference on Tuesday. 

Photo Credit: Mengwen Cao | Daily Texan Staff

The University announced it passed its goal to raise $3 billion in eight years on Tuesday with a $50 million donation from the Livestrong Foundation to the Dell Medical School.

The donation will establish the Livestrong Cancer Institutes at the Dell Medical School. The program will work with cancer patients and survivors to create patient-centered care through teaching and research initiatives.

“Revolutionary advances will flow through this partnership,” said President William Powers Jr. at a news conference Tuesday. “Lives will be saved.”

The Livestrong Foundation was founded in 1997 as advocacy and care group for those with cancer and cancer survivors. The foundation has since provided services to 2.8 million people.

“For the past 17 years, it’s been my privilege to grow the Livestrong Foundation from just an idea,” said Jeff Garvey, founding and current chairman of the board of directors of the Livestrong Foundation.

Doug Ulman, president and CEO of the Livestrong Foundation, spoke at the news conference about the day he was diagnosed with cancer 18 years ago and how scared he felt.

“I remember that day and that moment as if it were yesterday,” Ulman said. “Millions of people around the world have that experience each and every day, and we cannot allow their outcomes to chance. This is the most significant investment we have ever made, and it is an investment in the future of patient-centered care.”

Clay Johnston, Dell Medical School dean, said Livestrong’s dedication to helping cancer patients and the medical school’s intellectual capability of finding treatments make them a perfect match.

“It’s easy to be soulmates with an organization that has such soul,” Johnston said. “What I think we’re celebrating more than anything else is this expedition we’re launching together. It’s not quite Lewis and Clark, but this partnership this is going to be a big adventure.”

The medical school is scheduled to open in fall 2016. Livestrong's donation matches the same amount the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation pledged to the medical school in 2013, which resulted in the school being named after the Dell family.

The University’s $3 billion fundraising plan, “The Campaign for Texas,” was officially announced in 2008 and counts its total from 2006. Since then, more than 26,000 individuals and 12,000 organizations donated to the University. The fundraising campaign is scheduled to end on Aug. 31 with its goal now met.

“We’re over the goalline, but I might add that we have 12 days left in the campaign,” Powers said.

State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, also attended the press conference and said Livestrong's donation felt personal to him as a cancer survivor and having lost both of his parents to cancer.

“I've also known the shock of being discouraged, scared and asking what the future will be,” Watson said. “The future is the chance to team with a great new medical school at a world class university."

This story has been updated throughout since its original publication.

LIVE STRONG event planning and development intern and UT sport management senior Lane Follmar works on a project at the LIVE STRONG office Tuesday afternoon. Questions have been raised about how the internship department could be affected with recent news.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The Livestrong Foundation is attempting to move on following Lance Armstrong’s admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, and affiliated organizations and former interns remain supportive of its cause.

The foundation began in 1997 and is based in Austin, where Armstrong lives. Armstrong headed the organization’s board until he stepped down in November after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency produced a report with evidence of his doping practices. 

The organization released a statement in response to Armstrong’s on-camera interview with Oprah Winfrey, where he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during every one of his seven Tour de France titles. The foundation expressed its disappointment in Armstrong, as well as unveiling its plan for moving forward.

“We at the Livestrong Foundation are disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us,” the foundation stated. “We look forward to devoting our full energy to our mission of helping people not only fight and survive cancer, but also thrive in life after cancer.”

Livestrong also sponsors several organizations that raise money for cancer research, such as Texas 4000. Texas 4000 is a UT student organization that organizes annual charity bike rides from Austin to Anchorage, Ala.

Biomedical engineering senior David Martin, a member of the Texas 4000, is planning to ride on the 2013 team this summer. Martin said despite all of the controversy with the foundation, his team’s only focus is to raise awareness for cancer research.

“Our main goal is fighting cancer in any way possible and Livestrong is our sponsor and [has] done a fantastic job,” Martin said. “The main fight, regardless of what other people have done or what has been said about Livestrong, is to fight cancer and to raise hope, knowledge and charity.”

Livestrong also recruits interns from the 40 Acres. Psychology senior Jamie Hill, who interned in Livestrong’s navigation services department, said nothing has changed her perception of the good work that has been done by the foundation.

“[The controversy] has not changed my feelings about how much I want to fight cancer,” Hill said. “If anyone is passionate about fighting cancer or has thought about interning at Livestrong, it’s a wonderful opportunity for growth.”

Public relations senior Mackenzie Neel interned with Livestrong last semester and also agrees that the foundation impacted her positively.

“I loved being there,” Neel said. “The atmosphere was wonderful. They kept any negativity out of the intern room. Despite whatever is going on, Livestrong has helped millions of people and I have been proud to be a part of it.”

The foundation has raised over $400 million dollars since its inception.

Published on January 23, 2013 as "Livestrong continues work despite conflict". 

By now, you probably know that Lance Armstrong confessed to allegations of doping during all seven of his Tour de France victories. He did so in the first part of a 2 1/2-hour-long interview with Oprah Winfrey  this past Thursday and Friday evening at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin. 

Aside from Lance’s palatial Austin residence, Austin bears many signs of his presence: his bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s, the name of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway and the presence of the Livestrong Foundation headquarters, not to mention the significant increase in the number of cyclists in Austin during and after Armstrong’s victories in the Tour de France.

Thanks to that roster, Armstrong became many cyclists’ hero and leader, particularly in Austin. But now that spectators worldwide realize that Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories resulted partially from his reliance on a cocktail of performance enhancing drugs such as testosterone, cortisone, human growth hormone and EPO (erythropoietin, a naturally occurring hormone that stimulates the growth of oxygen carrying red blood cells), a backlash has begun with groups of people trying to remove the cancer survivor’s mark on the city of Austin.

Lance Armstrong’s yellow jersey has been removed from Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s office. The mayor publicly commented on his disappointment that “Lance misled [him] and so many others in Austin.” To top it all, many residents have started talking about renaming the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a cycling route that opened in 2009 as a response to the city’s expanding enthusiasm about the sport. This backlash raises an interesting question: How should we perceive our hometown hero, and how will the scandal impact cycling in this city?

Whether you like it or not, cycling’s popularity in Austin is directly related to Armstrong’s influence on the city. Not only do I not condone Armstrong’s actions, but I also understand the deep disappointment with his drug use and believe that his aggressive attacks on those who reported his drug use deserve condemnation. Yet I still believe that Austin, as a city, should try to preserve what Armstrong gave to cycling — an overall positive contribution to Austin’s culture — and keep that in mind when evaluating the Armstrong episode.

In a previous column, I earned a reputation of criticizing local cyclists for not following traffic rules,  but I believe that cycling, both recreational and competitive, should remain an important aspect of Austin. The benefits of cycling are numerous. According to the Discovery Channel, cycling is good for the heart, muscles, waistline, lifespan, coordination, mental health and immune system. Moreover, it is one of the few sports with relatively easy access. Decent used bikes are affordable. Helmet costs are low. Almost everyone in Austin can bike.

So, as for removing from the city all influences of Lance Armstrong, I disagree, and not just because of his influence on cycling. Granted, like many other athletes today, Lance took drugs. He abused his body, and I do not condone his behavior. Unlike most other athletes who faced similar situations, Armstrong not only confessed to cheating and taking drugs during the Tour de France, he also apologized for his actions. And, scandal notwithstanding, he has an impressive resume. After battling cancer, he created the Livestrong Foundation, which provides support for those afflicted with cancer and fights for government propositions that back cancer research. Through Livestrong, he backed Proposition 29  (a California initiative designed to raise funds for cancer research through a $1 tobacco tax increase) and Proposition 15 (a Texas initiative that created the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and allocated a $3 billion fund for cancer research within the state). 

Just because Armstrong’s mistakes have drawn popular attention and media hype away from his successes, his positive influences on Austin should not be overlooked. If they are, an important aspect of Austin’s cycling culture could be lost as well.

Malik is a Plan II and business honors  freshman from Austin.