Steamboat Springs The debate about Lance Armstrong's status as a hero and a villain will play out for days, weeks, months and years.
But one thing has become clear: Armstrong cheated en route to winning a record seven Tour de France titles.
The Associated Press reported earlier this week that in a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey scheduled to air Thursday and Friday, Armstrong admits for the first time to using performance-enhancing drugs.
How it affects Armstrong’s bid to compete again or the philanthropic foundation he started — Livestrong — remains to be seen.
Here in Steamboat Springs, at least, Armstrong’s admission isn’t changing the way the 4 Yellow Foundation charges forward with fundraising efforts to support cancer-related initiatives.
“I think the general statement is, 'It’s not about the bike,'” said David Nagel, co-founder of the Steamboat-based 4 Yellow Foundation, which puts on the Ski 4 Yellow and Ride 4 Yellow events. Half of the proceeds from those events goes to Livestrong, and the other half is granted to cancer causes in the Yampa Valley.
“They’re providing support services," Nagel said about the Austin, Texas-based Livestrong. "They’re helping families coming into the challenges of cancer.”
The Ski 4 Yellow and Ride 4 Yellow events are two of only 13 official Livestrong-partnered events in the country. Since their inception in 2010, the two local events have raised $1.12 million.
“Everything I’m hearing from the (Livestrong) foundation is positive,” Nagel said. “The sponsorships are intact. There has been an uptick in donations the last quarter. The support remains overwhelming.”
Registrations for the March 30 Ski 4 Yellow event are ahead of last year’s pace. The event challenges participants to raise $500 or more for cancer-related causes. Participants also can fundraise as a team.
Individual registration is $100. Online registration is available here.
“This event is fully independent of Lance Armstrong,” said Liana Gregory, chairwoman of this year’s Ski 4 Yellow event. “It’s a really fun day on the mountain. The whole Lance scandal is independent of us.”
On March 29, Ski 4 Yellow will hold an event at the top of the gondola, where it will grant out approximately $100,000 to local cancer initiatives. Whereas in past years the keynote speaker at a 4 Yellow event typically was a celebrity, Nagel said that this year, the speaker will be a beneficiary of the 4 Yellow Foundation's efforts to date.
No matter what Armstrong revealed to Winfrey, Nagel said that the night at the top of the gondola makes all the 4 Yellow Foundation volunteer efforts worthwhile.
“We’ve seen the results of the efforts,” he said. “Locals are getting support and funding. With this we’re able to provide services for those affected with these direct efforts.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com