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Livestrong bands make bold statement

Janice Flynn | Monday, August 30, 2004

Actors Matt Damon and Bruce Willis have them. Both President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry do too. Olympians have won gold in Athens wearing them. And, most likely, several have caught your eye in theology class or around LaFortune.

They are the bright yellow wristbands emblazoned with the mantra “Livestrong,” a joint product of The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike to raise money for cancer research.

The sturdy elastic wristbands pay tribute to Tour de France champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. Since hitting the stores in May, sales have taken off wildly, far surpassing the initial goal of $5 million. The current tally of sales approaches the $10 million mark, and they remain on backorder.

Armstrong’s record-breaking sixth Tour win this summer undoubtedly boosted public knowledge and interest in the wristbands. In addition, at the price of only $1 each, many are buying the wristbands in bulk.

“I actually bought 20 because I thought it was a good cause, so I just passed them around to people,” freshman Jess O’Brien said.

The bright wristbands are easily spotted around campus and have attracted much attention.

Even students who do not have the bracelets are talking about them.

Junior Vanessa Gonzalez secured a wristband when a distributor visited her mother’s U.S. Oncology office, and says it has been a major conversation starter this year.

“It’s really funny, someone always says ‘Oh I have that,’ or ‘I really want one of those,'” said Gonzalez. “I feel like everybody comments on it.”

Like the rest of the country, students are having a hard time getting their hands on the bracelets. Many say they have tried to order them online, but have been unsuccessful.

In Armstrong’s hometown of Austin, Texas, where the wristbands are especially popular, junior Jonathan Spadea said he saw them on everyone, and the stores were empty.

“I was looking for one all over,” said Spadea. “Eventually a mom of a friend gave hers to me.”

Spadea, whose father battled cancer, is one of many students who wear the wristbands in honor of a loved one who has fought cancer.

Cancer awareness has long been a major concern of the student body. This fall, many will participate in the Domer Run on Sept. 18, which benefits ovarian cancer research and education, and the Campus Relay for Life on Sept. 17 and 18, which supports the American Cancer Society.

For more information, students can visit the Lance Armstrong Foundation at LAF.org.