Metro Atlanta organizers of Livestrong fund-raising events expect little blow-back from the news that Lance Armstrong is stepping down as chairman of the cancer-fighting nonprofit.
Armstrong severed his tie with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, commonly called Livestrong, as news of his sports doping allegations gathered momentum.
“In my mind, and I think in other people’s minds, the organization has gotten bigger than Lance,” said Olympic gold medalist Eric Shanteau.
Shanteau, who swam for Parkview High School in Gwinnett County and brought home a gold medal from last summer’s Olympics is also a cancer survivor. His third Livestrong swimming event in September, “Swim for Your Life” at Lake Lanier, attracted 680 participants and raised $113,000 for the nonprofit.
The nonprofit started with Armstrong’s successful fight against testicular cancer, and since 1997 has raised nearly $500 million for people affected by cancer.
Livestrong has awarded 26 grants worth $1.4 million to Georgia foundations, hospitals and cancer centers.
“It think the focus of the fundraiser has always been about fighting cancer…and I think [Livestrong] is going to continue on as usual in the business of saving lives,” Shanteau said.
Much of its money comes from sports-based events like Shanteau’s and the 5K race held in February in Suwanee.
Robert Goldsmith, the organizer of the Lace Up and LiveStrong 5K, said when he heard of Armstrong stepping down, he wondered about the effects of the next race in 2013 but he expects little fallout. The inaugural event raised $2,000. Like Shanteau, he believes people recognize Livestrong as separate from Armstrong and his current problems.
“I think it has gotten a little bigger than the man, himself,” he said.