Wednesday, April 20, 2005

One last time for Lance

Icons to emulate chosen by America's young more often than not are known for ill-bred behavior than polish and lasting civic contributions.

One, however, with significant acclaim and acceptance is Lance Armstrong, the iron-willed international cyclist who has decided to go out on top, as it were, after one more Tour de France race this year.

Armstrong's stature across the generations is not only because he won the demanding Tour de France a record six straight times, but for his steely determination to beat lethal testicular cancer that was diagnosed in 1996 and is regarded as difficult to survive.

With the same grit he uses in grueling competitive racing, Armstrong conquered the disease and embarked on his winning streak in 1999, breaking the five-win record.

Along the way, Armstrong also created a non-profit foundation to help cancer victims, including selling 40 million rubber yellow LiveStrong wrist bracelets to raise funds, a worthy legacy by any measure.

Bike racers may lack the flair and glamour of young film and music celebrities, whose colorful (and frequently anti-social) personas are showcased in the media.

What Armstrong and his sport do embody, however, are qualities that create genuine personal character that the cosmetics of fashion and theatrical behavior can never capture—-endurance despite indescribable physical pain, years of almost monastic training and preparation for a single event and a personal code of single-minded dedication.

Impressionable young adults looking for models will find a noble path in life idolizing a Lance Armstrong rather than a tattooed rock star with an incomprehensible name.

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