Nov. 4, 2007

The fight continues...


Hard to believe, but it's november already. Time definitely did pass way too quickly. I meant to write about my Austin experience days ago, but then school started again and, yep, you guessed it, people everywhere got cold infections.... including me- again!!! I'm so sick and tired of doctors' waiting rooms- for the past 2 1/2 months, I've pretty much had it. Oh well, it could be a lot worse, too, so who am I to complain?

Just this past week, I received an e-mail from a guy I met through the Livestrong experience. I sent him 2 binders and a few extra Livestrong items, and he responded soo after that. Here's what he said:

"I wanted to share with you that just 5 weeks ago, i was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and unfortunetly it spread to the pelvis and lymphs, but I just last week started chemo, and will undergo that through Feb, and than have my second operation. I will kick it's ass, and you do the same with your training!
I'm going to use all the items for keeping track of what i'm going through.
Many thanks for what you're doing FOR ME!"

At times like that, I get all teary-eyed. I mean, not only do we need to keep on fighting this horrible disease for people like Steve, but to have him thank me for doing what I do, it's just amazing. I'm not the most successful fundraiser, nor am I rich, so I can't really do much. But like Steve said, it's appreciated nonetheless. However small the contribution might be, it's important to join the fight against cancer.

So, I put up my Livestrong Challenge dri-fit shirt on eBay to auction it off. And I still have a few items from last season's thank-you gifts that I will include later this week. Please take a look and bid on items to get a great souvenir and help our cause.
My eBay auctions

Oh, you might have noticed that I changed the color of my blog from pink (for the pink or October campaign) to blue. Actually, I tried to find a purple template, but no such luck, so this will have to do. November is national awareness months for both lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.

Someone mentioned that although he liked the fact that breast cancer was very much in the public eye during the month of october and everywhere you looked, you could see something pink, but he also wished, you'd be able to see all the other colors for the different cancer types throughout the year- so here it is: blue (sorry I couldn't get it to be purple
) for pancreatic cancer and pearl for lung cancer (my Austin experiences will be posted later this week, I promise).

Oct. 19, 2007

Everything I hoped it would be and then some...


Okay, I'm back from Austin, and still a little jet-lagged, but really happy.

I had the most wonderful time in Austin- the weather was great (hey, now that I'm back it's starting to freeze in Germany, so my tan will be gone in no time, oh well), I got to meet some really amazing people, many of them cancer survivors, a lot of them involved in fundraising activities benefiting the LAF, some of them mentees from Europe, other fellow volunteer mentors from the US and Canada, LAF staff and friends.

I'll tell you all about the weekend in the next few days but I thought I should probably post my photos, so you can get some impressions in case you didn't make it to Austin this year!

2007 Livestrong Challenge- Austin, TX


Oh, and Kate, I'm so sorry I didn't get to call you. Somehow my phone acted up and then the ride was there and things got a little hectic. But I didn't forget you and honestly hope we'll get to meet some day, maybe at next year's Challenge?! Thanks again for all you did and still do fighting against cancer!!

Oh, and I thought you might like to know, that I included you in the Challenge- take a look (sorry, I didn't get more names on the card):


Oct. 8, 2007

Off I go...

You won't here a lot from me for the next week, as I'm flying to the US tomorrow and won't be back til Wednesday, 17th. Oh, the excitement- it really gets me just a few hours before the flight and I can't wait to meet all the great people involved and/or participating in the Livestrong Challenge.

To those of you who will be in Austin, as well and would like to meet me, just head to the Livestrong Village. I will be at the LAF booth during registration on Friday (4-8 pm) and on Saturday, probably after lunch.

I just know we'll have a great time and we can celebrate our joined efforts in the fight against cancer- I mean who would've thought the amazing progress that happened in cancer research and treatment?! If we keep on fighting, we'll be able to cure cancer at some point of time in the nearer future- at least that's what we can hope for and work towards.

So, I'll see you in a few days or you can find out about my 2007 Challenge experience after I got back!

Oct. 5, 2007

Back to you

I came across the Philadelphia 2007 LiveSTRONG Challenge Messenger Award Speech by one of my fellow volunteer mentors, Scott Joy recently. Always meant to write about it, but somehow I never got to it. Well, wait no more...

In his speech, he talked about asking a lot of people to sponsor his ride and help fight cancer, and he got a pretty amazing response. Many people told him about their fight against cancer or a person that was very close to them and actually thanked him for asking and most of all doing something against cancer.

So, Scott urges us to keep asking for donations, keep being a messenger and to continue delivering the powerful message of hope and strength and life.

It doesn't matter whether you're one of the top fundraisers, like Scott who managed to raise an incredible $ 20,425.00 (his team raised $96,256.50), or you make a $5 donation- it's all very much appreciated and it helps us getting another step closer to fight cancer and give cancer patients and their loved ones a reason to hope, a reason to keep their strength and be able to look forward to a healthy life after surviving cancer.

I'm one of those people, who are not even close to making a huge benefit for the LAF, being a student doesn't leave a lot of money left for me to donate. Plus, people in Germany or Europe in general are very skeptical about making a donation to a US foundation, even though the LAF supports various European projects.

But, to all of you who did support my fundraising efforts, I just want you to know how much I appreciate your great e-mails of support, telling me about your experiences in the fight against cancer and keeping me motivated to continue my endeavor in times when I got nasty e-mails from people criticizing my involvement with the LAF. The LAF is an organization that will always be very close to my heart, with a great bunch of people working and volunteering for it and I'm very proud to be part of the LAF family. Thanks again for your help and please consider to continue your support of the LAF!


Oct. 3, 2007

German Unity Day

Today is our national holiday- the day we celebrate the German reunification. It's already been 17 years, but when I see the pictures of people climbing over the Berlin Wall, it always manages to give me goosebumps. Although I was only 12 at that time, I still remember everything about those weeks, especially since I have family living in the former GDR. We were all so excited and enthusiastic that we were finally a united nation, again.

Although in many people's mind some of that enthusiasm has disappeared, I believe we should be proud of our nation. Of course, there are still some difficulties left, but that's a small prize to pay for what truly has been a historic event.

Did I mention that besides being a complete sports nut, I'm also a huge music fan- pretty much covering all kinds of music from rock or punk music to hip hop or country. But there are only very few bands or musicians that make me buy their CD whenever something new comes out, including Tara MacLean, Sarah McLachlan (yep, I seem to prefer Canadian artists, it seems), or the Push Stars (I first saw them performing at the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse where they took part in MTV's Choose or Lose, and have been a fan ever since).

And then there's my favorite band, Matchbox Twenty (although it's a close call between those guys and the Push Stars). They were gone for quite some time, but now they're back and you can imagine my surprise, when I saw their new video and there were scenes from the German Reunification in it. It's called "How far we've come".

It chronicles many big events in history: landing on the moon, President Kennedy, the feminist movement, Pele, tearing down the Berlin wall, Live Aide, the new millennium, Princess Diana, the Middle East peace process, Live Earth, and minorities (at least when it comes to their representation in politics) as front runners for President (Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton).

Oct. 1, 2007

Portland Livestrong Challenge

It's October, 1st, and Web sites will "Go Pink" during the month of October to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, get people talking about breast cancer, and raise money for research (check out their website: pinkforoctober.org for details).

You can get a ton of information by visiting the websites on my sidebar or donate to my fundraising account at the LAF.


A week to go before I'll head over to the States and two weeks before the Austin Challenge! Can't wait- I'm just so excited to go there and meet everyone.


Yesterday, the Portland Challenge obviously was a great success- with not so nice weather condition... it's reported to have been rather wet and cold, so just like in Germany ;-)

Anyway, I'm trying to get a bit of an overview for those of you who haven't been there, so if anyone knows of some pictures or news reports, let me know. This list will be updated as more information becomes available.

Third annual Livestrong Challenge in Portland


Nearly $2 million raised during Livestrong Challenge

Thousands Join "Livestrong Challenge"

Rain doesn't stop Livestrong riders (KOIN News 6)

Thousands Run, Bike to Beat Cancer (FOX 12 Oregon)

Armstrong leads 3rd annual Portland fundraising ride


Sep. 30, 2007

Germany's women's soccer team sets records

Germany women's soccer team defended their World Cup title with a 2-0 victory over Brazil today and are thus the first team to defend their title. But that's not the only record they broke.

Germany is the first team to go through a major senior tournament without yielding a goal, outscoring the opposition 21-0. in addition, they have not given up a goal in 619 minutes in World Cup play (the last goal was scored four years ago by Sweden).

Pretty impressive team effort, with a great German goalie, Nadine Angerer, who tipped away a penalty shot by Brazilian superstar Marta. Again, the women's team is even more successful than the men's national team who won bronze in last years world cup in Germany. Let's just hope that they'll receive the attention they deserve and that the media will pick up on their success and increase their coverage of the women's league. It's way past time to do so!

Earlier today, the USA beat Norway 4-1 in the bronze medal game.

Sep. 24, 2007

History marker in Green Bay

Okay, this is totally off topic, but as many of you know I spent a year in Wisconsin studying at the University of Wisconsin @ La Crosse a couple of years ago, and I met a lot of great people there. I loved everything about Wisconsin, even the winter, and of course I became a huge Packers fan. Yep, you guess it, it's time to mention a little piece of history in the making- Brett Favre tied Dan Marino's TD record on Sunday.

Even more important, a team that a lot of people underestimated during the pre-season, now is 3-0. And next week, he'll hopefully break the TD-record and add another win against Minnesota- oh, can't wait for the old Packers-Vikings rivalry. I told you I'm a sports nut!

Favre has played 17 seasons in the NFL and has started every game since his first start for the Packers in 1992, an "Iron Man", for sure! But not everything was perfect. He overcame an addiction to pain killers, had to deal with the death of his dad, and the death of his brother-in-law. And... and this is where it all comes full circle to the fight against cancer, only a week later, his wife Deanna was diagnosed with breast cancer. She started the Deanna Favre Hope Foundation, that pays medical bills for women with breast cancer who are uninsured or underinsured. After going through chemo, she fully recovered and is doing great, but she always kept her humor, even during her treatment: "I lost everything — my hair, my eyebrows, eyelashes — and yet I still had to shave my legs. The one place a woman really wants to lose hair, and I didn't."

If there's one thing you learn during this ongoing endeavor is to never loose your sense of humor and the faith that you will be okay!

Sep. 20, 2007

It's raining again....


Okay, it's passed time that this stupid rain will finally stop. I mean, it's been like this pretty much all summer. We had about 2 weeks of warmer weather in June and could actually get our t-shirts and shorts out of the closet, but since then it's been rainy and cold, so I'm back to wearing jeans and sweaters, if you can believe it.

Since I'm still recovering from the flu, although it's getting much better, I can't do any cycling outside. With the rain and the cold weather, it's just way too risky with the Austin Challenge coming up in about 3 weeks. I'm not even taking a chance on getting soaked to my undies again!

Everything else is finally falling into place. I already booked my flight (pretty expensive but it'll be worth it), I finally got the information that I will be able to borrow a bike for the actual challenge ride, and I'm beginning to get all the information I need about where to stay during the week.

The only negative aspect is my fundraising that came to a complete stop. Actually, I had 3 people lined up who promised me to either support my fundraising or even sponsor me, but I haven't heard from them ever since. I mean, why offer something like that and then not follow up on it? It got my hopes up to actually accomplish my goal of raising $5000 and now it's a pretty disappointing situation.

Oh well, I did organize some online-auctions, but most of the people who won the items are very slow in sending the money, so that money will probably arrive in time for next year's fundraising season.

But, I won't complain, it's been a new fundraising record for me, anyway. A few months ago, I wasn't even sure if I'd get passed the $500 mark with all those negative news and attitudes about cycling in general and more specifically in Germany and Europe, so I'm happy with the way it turned out!

Just in case you know someone who'd be willing to support me in any way or who has the opportunity to donate to my fundraising page, let me know. I tried to get more information about the LAF across to people from my hometown by doing an interview in a local paper, but that didn't recruit any further donations or support. People are always telling me that they admire me for volunteering my time and some of my money (that's pretty tight with me being a college student who has to pay for tuition) for a good cause, but when it comes to donating even a small sum, they always shy away. Oh well, I guess it's the fact that donations to the LAF are not tax-deductible in Germany, so if they donate some money, they'll choose a German foundation. It's a little disappointing, but I just can't help it.

That won't stop my involvement with the LAF and the fight against cancer, though, so I'll keep going, even if it's a difficult endeavor.


Sep. 14, 2007

A month to go!


Just got back from a 75 minute spinning session with one of my good friends, and it actually wasn't as bad as I expected it to be after not spending much time on a bike during the last 6 weeks due to the summer flu.

When I got back I received the good news that I'll get a bike for the Austin Challenge, I'll just need to get it fitted, but that's not a problem. I'm just happy that it all turned out so well and that people are just being so helpful and extremely nice. Now I'll just have to concentrate on spending some additional time on the bike, and get in shape, and all should be set.

I know that some people are worried about finding a place to stay that is in/near Dripping Springs.
Here's a list of places. They were found on the Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce website…and LAF does not have blocks at them.


Outpost Motel
26200 RR 12 South
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
(512) 858-0052


Cypress Fork Ranch Bed & Breakfast

1300 Creek Road
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
(512) 894-4410


Mt. Gainor Inn
2390 Prochnow Road
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
(512) 894-0982

Sports Country, Inc.
P. O. Box 414
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
(512)858-4407

Sunrise Exotic Ranch
25201 RR 12
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
(512) 894-0728

Tex-Zen Dreams
699 Hillview Drive
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
(512)858-5634


Also, there were some questions about what to wear during the Challenge ride. There's not an easy answer that will be right for everyone. The most important thing is to feel comfortable in whatever you'll wear. I'd definitely recommend cycling shorts- otherwise you could have a very uncomfortable ride and it won't be much fun!

I'll probably ride in a Challenge Jersey. I got one last year and I definitely would like to get one this year, too. It was really comfortable and it had lots of room to put snack bars and water bottles. But there were some people riding in regular t-shirts, too, so again- wear what you'll feel most comfortable in!


Sep. 10, 2007

Riding with a purpose


I just received an e-mail from one of my fellow volunteer mentors and I just had to pass this along- it's an amazing story of a really dedicated and incredibly strong woman who won't let brain cancer get her down. It makes you even more proud and determined to ride with such amazing participants. I'm sure each of us, who will ride in the Austin Challenge, has his or her unique and inspiring story, this is Kim's:


http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070910/FOSTERS02/709100077

Sep. 7, 2007

Thank you Aiden and Brian!

Finally, the moment to reveal who won the signed Erik Zabel Cycling jersey and the signed Dirk Nowitzki shoes!
I know I'm a little behind schedule, but first I was going through a bad case of summer flu, and then I couldn't reach the winner of the shoes, so here it is, finally.

The jersey was won by an Australian young man, named Harley (I'm so sorry for confusing you for a girl, but the same thing happens to me all the time- people confuse me for a guy because of my unusual name, so we're having something in common!) It already arrived down under and is put to good use- not by putting it in a frame, but by actually wearing it during his training rides. I'm glad you like it! And thanks again for participating!!

The basketball shoes got me introduced to a remarkable man in Canada. His name is Aiden and he was entering the raffle for his son, who is a huge basketball fan. But things changed after the raffle came to an end. His son was diagnosed with testicular cancer and his doctors gave him a 25% chance of surviving. That was why I couldn't reach him- he and his family were busy dealing with that kind of news and making plans for his future treatment.

When I did manage to get in touch, I was amazed by the response letter I received and very much touched. Aiden, his wife and his children, including the son who is a huge Nowitzki fan, had some kind of a family conference and decided to donate the shoes. They wanted me to auction them off and then to donate the money from that auction to the LAF in Brian's name. I was absolutely blown away by their generosity, but at the same time I wasn't sure if I should do it- I mean Brian won it and after his diagnosis, I wanted to give him an incentive to give him some extra motivation for his upcoming therapy.

But than he called me, and insisted on his plan. He's a brave young man, only 26 years old- and talking to him was something I'll never forget. You just can feel his absolute will to kick cancer's butt and quite honestly, I don't think that cancer will have a chance of winning. I wouldn't let him give up his prize without any kind of compensation, though, so I organized a Nowitzki signed cap and some Livestrong Challenge items for him. I'm proud to know this family and I'll put Brian on the list of names of people, I will ride for in the Challenge.

I will auction off the Basketball shoes during the next 10 days, starting today. I'll also auction off some signed sports memorabilia from German stars, including a signed swimsuit from former world class swimmer and world-record holder Franziska van Almsick.

As soon as I start the auctions, I'll put a link to the eBay site on my blog, so please check back! If you know someone interested in some of the items, I'd appreciate it if you could pass along the information.

By the way, the other smaller prizes will be shipped in mid-October. So maybe you'll get a pleasant surprise soon! A BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE PARTICIPATING IN THE RAFFLE! I met some amazing people during the event- you rock!


Sep. 5, 2007

Riding group for the 40 mile Austin ride

I just got back from my doctor and I couldn't be happier about the news- the blood test came back all clear, so the antibiotics did their job and now it's just a matter of time and being patient (which I'm not, unfortunately) until I should be better. Thank you for all of the "get well soon" messages!!!

So, I can finally start with some moderate cycling and should be reaching my usual level of fitness in about a week. Keep your fingers crossed!

Just over a month to go... I can't believe we're actually this close to the Austin Challenge! The date was always very far away in the back of my calendar, but now it's right there. I put the Austin elevation profiles on my wall, so I can see it whenever I'm working on my PC, and I'll put the list of names to honor during the Challenge just next to the profiles, to keep me motivated.

If anyone of you will ride the 40 miles in Austin, this might be interesting:
I'm riding the 40 miles with a friend from San Antonio, because we both figured that it is quite important to have a "riding buddy" for motivation and support during the entire route. We're both kind of slow riders- it's more about survival and finishing the ride than racing- and we'll prove just that! The hills will be tough, but hey, it isn't called a Challenge for nothing, right?

So, we decided to start a group of participants that will ride together, stopping at each rest stop, and keeping each other motivated. If anyone else is interested in riding with our group, please let me know either by e-mail or by leaving a comment.

I already put a link to Amanda's training blog on my sidebar, but just in case you didn't see it, yet, here it is again: http://amanda-livestrongchallenge.blogspot.com/

Aug. 27, 2007

Media coverage: Livestrong Challenge Philadelphia 2007


Here, you can find video coverage, photos and/or articles about the Livestrong Challenge Philadelphia 2007. List will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.


Also, please watch the videos from the Livestrong Presidential Forum...
...and from Meet the Press

Aug. 23, 2007

Germany's B-Team beats Beckham and the England squad


Yesterday evening, most people in both England and Germany were watching another episode of the England and Germany football (that is soccer for those of you who aren't European) rivalry, when both teams played the first international game in the new Wembley Stadium that is being called the fortress.

Germany was the last team to beat England in the old Wembley, and they were the first ones to beat them again in the new one in a 1:2 game last night- but what upset most England fans had to be the fact that Germany just played with a B-Team and replacing 11 players, including captain Michael Ballack. Of course, the ever recurring difficulties with the English goalie didn't help either- as Mr. Robinson (or Mrs. Robinson as the English press calls him) "gave away" the goal as a special gift to Germany. But then again, the goalie seems to be a big problem for English squads for the last centuries now, so it's almost a tradition.

I was watching the game with my family, and I'm the only England fan in the house (actually, I like Wales even better: hey, I'm with low-profile teams and underdogs, and Ryan Giggs is just one of the best players ever), but there I was in my England jersey, being ridiculed by my family. I guess I agree with them, though- England played very poorly for the better part of the game.

And don't even get me started on David Beckham. I liked him in his younger years when he was still playing for Man United (he and Ryan Giggs- pure magic!), and he still is pretty good when it comes to free kicks, but yesterday, you could see him having trouble keeping up with the pace that comes with European football- he's way too slow, he didn't bring any creativity to the game and quite frankly, I can't see him playing a big role and being a leader in the upcoming qualification games that'll hopefully lead England to the European Cup next year (Right now, they are 4th in group E with Croatia, Israel and Russia being ahead of them). So he is a big star in the US, and he is good-looking if you like the type, but I'd rather see Steven Gerrard back on the team. The Sun compared him to a headless chicken, and I hate to say it, but they had a point last night.


The English press was pretty harsh on the boys, too, saying that Germany even won the singing contest- when approx. 9000 Germany fans were being heard singing and celebrating, and 78.000 English fans were not.

The Sun said it all: "What a load of robbish!" Let's just hope they'll get their butts together and start doing what made the English national teams special: a strong sense of team spirit and the absolute willingness to fight until the last second. Oh, and a new and creative midfielder wouldn't be too bad, either.

Aug. 10, 2007

Discovering Hands- how blind women can help with early breast cancer detection


In Germany, more specifically Duisburg, there's a new program called "discovering hands" where blind women are being taught in early detection of breast cancer.


There will be a new profession, called medical tactile examiners and those women will do exactly that: they'll do a thorough check up of females during their regular preventive examinations. Due to their very sharp senses, they'll feel even the smallest changes, so they actually see with their hands. This will help doctors and patients, because the sooner they find tumors, the smaller they are, and cancer patients that have tumors that are less than 1 cm are very probable to being cured. The chances of being cured in those cases are higher than 90%.

The first mte's will finish their training in 2009.

Jul. 16, 2007

Philly Challenge mentioned in Today Show - Update


First of all, I have to say that personally I do not like bull fights in French or Spanish arenas or events like the pamplona running with the bulls. I think it's both dangerous and against animal rights. I did not post this to glorify this event or the participants of the event. The LAF received upset letters following the Today Shows segment, so I felt like I'd have to mention this.

Secondly, what I think is the great part of this story was that one of the brothers celebrated his 1-year remission of testicular cancer and that he will participate in the Philly Challenge to be an active person in the fight against cancer, as well as try to get more people to register or volunteer for the Challenge. If this post or the segment from the Today show was misleading to some of you, I deeply regret it.

We are all working towards a common goal in the fight against cancer, so please consider making a donation- small or large. There's a link included in the Honor Roll, and every donation will be highly appreciated- plus a donation to my fundraising page also gives you one or more raffle tickets (for donations of $5 or more) to win some great prizes (including signed and gameworn basketball shoes from Dirk Nowitzki as well as Livestrong Challenge items), there are also some incentives for different levels of donations mentioned a little lower on this blog.

Thank you for your attention- I hope you'll join our endeavor!
_______________________________________________________

Two brothers that are participating in the Philly Challenge were featured on the Today Show this morning.

They both ran in the Pamplona 'running with the bulls' (a 400 year old tradition that generates both fear and excitement in partipants and bystanders)
and were injured (but are doing okay in a hospital in Spain). One of the brothers just celebrated his 1-year remission from testicular cancer. Both were planning to run in the Philly Livestrong Challenge, but will now be walking instead. He and his brother are Team Dos Hermanos, and they encouraged people to sign up to ride, run or volunteer.


click here to watch the video

Jul. 15, 2007

New eBay items/ training during Tour de France

First of all, I have listed a few more eBay items to get closer to my goal to make it to the Austin Challenge in October. If anyone of you is interested in an item, all you have to do is click on the item's name and you'll be directed to the listing on eBay.


Matthew Modine signed Video: Bye Bye Love

Panini World Cup 2006 Germany Album- complete + Jens Lehmann extra sticker


Starbucks City Edition Coffee Mug- Berlin

Planet Hollywood Coffee Mug- Berlin


Warner Bros. Studio Store Coffee Mug- Berlin

Planet Hollywood Coffee Mug- Paris


Riverdance- The Show Coffee Mug

First day of issue letter - Moon Landing July 20, 1969






During the last years, watching the Tour de France always meant spending the afternoons and weekends in front of the TV, drinking soda and eating icecream. This year is a little different, though.

I carried my stationary bike up to my tiny living room with my mom- the room is now dominated by a bike- but as long as I can still reach my desk and bookshelves, I guess it's all right (with me being a student). So, yesterday I spend 60 minutes on that bike and today I did a 90 minutes session. It's kind of funny, being on your stationary bike while watching pro-cycling athletes climbing hills during the Tour de France. It's definitely less boring than being on that bike in the basement
for an hour or more and staring at pictures of houses that my father used to built.

If I can keep up this kind of training, I should be in pretty good shape by October. Tomorrow the Tour takes a day off and so do I. I'll be at a rock concert downtown with one of my best friends that is part of the Oldenburg "cultural summer" weeks.

Jul. 14, 2007

technical problems-solved

The Livestrong Challenge website is working again. All technical problems should be fixed by now!

Jul. 10, 2007

Back in the saddle....

Yep, things are looking good again. I had a check-up following my concussion and the doc said it's okay to start cycing again. Finally! I was getting a little restless, I have to say. So, today I went back on my bike and managed to ride a whole 45 minutes until the rain started again. Man, I hate this so-called summer!! But, it's better than nothing, so I'm quite pleased with myself.

Fundraising is going well, too. I'm close to the $1000 mark, which almost doubles my result from last year. However, I'm still hoping to raise a lot more for this great cause and will continue to do so even after this season. The other participants seem to raise a lot of money, too- the 3 challenges passed the $2.000.000 mark.

There's also some exciting news for the Austin Challenge:


Texans have the opportunity to vote on November 6th to provide $300 million a year over 10 years for cancer research and programs in Texas. Because of this historic opportunity, the 5k run/walk has been changed to October 13th with the ride remaining Sunday, October 14th. Plus, the run will now take place on the Texas Capitol grounds and it'll include a rally in support of the vote. So, registered participants for the ride can now also do the 5k run/walk without any additional costs.

I'm not quite sure if I'll do the run, too, but I'll be there cheering everyone on- that is if I'll get the flight details figured out... I'm still hoping for lastminute flights to be a little less expensive.


Jun. 26, 2007

Is it summer yet?

...probably not- at least not where I'm living. It's raining almost every day and today there are some thunderstorms in the forecast, as well. Jeez, I finally started with my training for the Challenge in October and now all I can do is ride on my stationary bike- which I have to admit is very boring- I know my basement by heart and there's no TV or any other distraction.

In other news, I have another eBay auction benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It's a signed cycling jersey from Erik Zabel (
6 time winner of the final green jersey for best sprinter during the Tour de France) - similar to the one I have in my raffle.

I received the jersey directly from the team, so it's a 100% genuine article- a great chance for all you cycling enthusiasts! With all the sponsor emblems: Milram, SMS Santini, Daigo, de nardi and the UCI Pro Tour Logo.

Size: XL (50)
Made in Italy by Santini- "Tilux Active Micro Hive"
60 % Polyester, 40 % Nylon
wash on cold/ 30°C

The auction ends: Jul-05-07 15:01:53 PDT and of course 100% of the money goes directly to the Lance Armstrong Foundation (a tax deductible donation for people living in the US). At the moment, the highest bid is for $70. Here's the link to the auction:
Click here to go to the Erik Zabel signed Jersey auction

There's one more issue. Ever since Karen's battle with breast cancer, I've been reading up on the illness and on people's experiences with it. Today, I got a very nice e-mail from a breast cancer survivor from Atlanta, Georgia and she told me about her involvement with the "Young Survival Coalition", an organization that assists women who are under 40 and have breast cancer (thank you Sarah for sharing the information with me). It's a wonderful group of very inspiring young women, and you can read more about them right here:
http://www.youngsurvival.org/

Jun. 11, 2007

Challenge Route descriptions released/ Lance in France


The route descriptions have been released for all 3 Challenges. The Austin Challenge will start and finish in Dripping Springs, which just happens to be Lance Armstrong's training grounds, and is called "Gateway to the Hill Country", so it should be very picturesque... can't wait to see the Longhorns. However, I'm not really sure what to think of the "steep climbs" :-)


Anyway, if you want to find out more about your Challenge, go to:
http://www.livestrong.org/site/c.khLXK1PxHmF/b.2714871/k.BA74/Event_Information.htm Just click on the Info button of the Challenge you're participating in and then you can find all the information you need- route descriptions included. In other news, Lance is back in Europe. He and some friends went to France this weekend and climbed the Mont Ventoux, one of the most challenging climbs of the 2004 Tour de France. Reports say it took him 2 hours, which is twice as much as during the Tour of 2004- so that's a former pro-cyclists' idea of having a good time with some friends?!

I took my bike out for a much less challenging ride with some friends over the weekend, too. But I have to admit, it felt really good to be healthy enough to do some decent cycling again and not feel like you'd fall down your bike in desperate need for an oxygen tent after just five minutes (a feeling I experienced during the last few weeks).

Jun. 4, 2007

Lance in Cheesehead Country


As some of you know, I consider myself partly a Cheesehead as I have been studying at the University of Wisconsin @ LaCrosse for a year. And I'm still getting (more or less regular) updates from some friends there and from Steve about what is happening in the region.


Well, on June 1st, the new Trek Madone bike was unveiled at the Milwaukee Art Museum (what a great place for an event like this!) and Lance was there as well- a big surprise for everyone attending.


You can find some pictures of Lance "admiring" the bike and a short video clip here: http://trekroad.typepad.com/trekroad/madone_world_premiere/index.html
Lance also supported an event called "The Trek 100 in support of the
Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) Fund". As the enthusiastic cyclists of you may know, Trek is based in Waterloo, WI. Anyway, there are some video clips from that event, too.

For an exclusive one-on-one interview with Lance Armstrong, where he talks about cancer, his career and about cycling being called "the dirty sport", please visit: http://www.todaystmj4.com/sports/local/7800946.html
To see a short clip about the Trek 100, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/2gyvpn




"GO PACKERS!"

Jun. 1, 2007

The end justifies the means, or does it?


Today, a lot of people in Europe were waiting for news about a certain "reality show" from the Netherlands. What happened?

Dutch publicly financed television network, BNN, announced it would broadcast "The Big Donor Show". The show was supposed to be about a 37-year-old woman, named Lisa, suffering from an inoperable brain tumor. She wanted to donate a kidney before she died and wanted to choose the recipient from among three contestants on Dutch national television. Viewers were said to be able to vote for a candidate via SMS text message (for 60 cents/message), but the final determination would've been Lisa's, according to BNN.

What followed was a huge outcry not only by members of the Dutch parliament, who had a session on this topic and said that they couldn't intervene the stations plans for the show, as any intervention would be "censorship". Almost everyone thought the idea was extremely objectionably, distasteful and unethical. However, the station is no stranger when it comes to scandals. They invented "Big Brother", and showed a reporter snorting cocaine and then being interviewed about the experience in a talk-show format. Plus, the production company
was censured by Ofcom (in the UK) last week for their handling of the Celebrity Big Brother racism row.

At the end of the Big Donor Show, the host informed everyone that the show was completely staged and that Lisa was an actress. However, the 3 contestant really were waiting for a kidney, but were informed about the show and played their parts. The host explained the reasons for the show as a way to inform the public about the extreme need for donor organs in the Netherlands. This discussion was meant to inform people about the whole process and encourage people to sign up as organ donors.

Okay, I totally agree with them that at the moment the issue of donating your organs after brain-death or Cardiac Death is not very popular in the media. At the moment, mucoviscidosis is the illness that is most talked about in Germany. There seems to be some kind of trend, where the media only talks about one illness and pretty much forgets any other diseases. Unfortunately, cancer isn't a major priority in the news right now and neither is AIDS.

But does a need for information about a certain issue justify a show like this- even if it's staged? I don't think so- why not make a documentary about organ donations (and no, documentaries don't have to be boring, just add some real patients who talk about their experience waiting for donors and the stories will be interesting and people will talk about it.) Also, why not talk to your politicians about the possibility to change the law. In some European countries, everyone is a donor and you have to object if you don't agree due to religious beliefs or personal matters.

There's so much you can do, but shock everyone just to get a headline in the news? I don't think so, and this whole scenario probably will have the opposite effect- it will give a bad name to the whole issue and people will remember the scandal, not the cause.

May 23, 2007

What a difference a Livestrong Day makes


The goal for Livestrong Day was to recruit 500 new Challenge participants and I think everyone was a little bit surprised when the final number was released: 1,518 new participants signed up for the Challenge on Livestrong Day.
Amazing!

In Washington, D.C. 200 advocates met with national leaders to call for a change in the way we are raising awareness and funding for the cancer fight... but there were events all over the US and other countries, too.

For example, I spent my day at a hospital and talked to people who are fighting cancer right now. Later I just handed out Livestrong wristbands and it's so funny to see the reaction of people when they get suspicious of a free gift. Some didn't want to accept it because they thought I wanted money in exchange, some gave me the almost expected talk about their opinion of Lance Armstrong- (nothing good, let me tell you, but I'm used to defending the Foundation against all those talks about doping going on in Germany right now) and some didn't understand the meaning behind the wristband at all.

The funniest reply I got was from people at our local customs agency- of course the package of new wristbands was stopped in Frankfurt and I had to go to the custom agency. I told them a little bit about the LAF and about the fight against cancer and they actually asked me if I thought the wristband was a cure for cancer! Can you believe it? I think they were trying to make sure I wasn't some kind of charlatan.

Livestrong Day made me reach my first fundraising goal, too. Yep, I've officially surpassed the $500 mark- a little later than I hoped, but considering all the difficulties in my fundraising at the moment (the German cycling world is shocked with the news of years of doping in the Telecom Team- and more news about other European Teams and famous cyclists with similar results are expected) I am proud of getting there at all.

Anyway, there are some more Livestrong Day pictures and short video clips

May 15, 2007

LIVESTRONG DAY - join our team and receive 50% off registration fee

Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results
-unknown

Yep, it‘s true. If you want to participate in the Livestrong Challenge and plan to ride in Austin, you might want to consider signing up for the Challenge as part of the 2007 European Cyclists Team on Livestrong Day (May 16th, until midnight PST). Remember: you don‘t have to be European to be a part of the team- it‘s an international collaboration and we‘d be proud to have you on our team!
Team= together everyone achieves more!

This is what the Livestrong website has to say:
Take the Challenge.
Register for the LIVESTRONG Challenge on May 16th and receive 1/2 off the $50 registration fee!
Important: You need to enter LSDAY500 in the discount code box to receive the discount.

Click here to register for the Livestrong Challenge Austin (October 12-14 ,2007) and join our team!

Click here to register for the Philly Challenge (AUGUST 25-26, 2007)


Click here to register for the Portland Challenge (SEPTEMBER 29-30, 2007)

If you already signed up for the Challenge Austin and don't have a team yet- don't worry. You can still join us. Just send me an e-mail to Region11-International@mylivestrong.com and I'll help you to join our team.

Have a great Livestrong Day and be sure to wear your yellow shirt and/or the Livestrong bracelet on May 16th!

May 5, 2007

"Ignore your bike" Virus

Hello everyone!

There seems to be a virus out there, something like the “ignore your bike virus“, that affected most Livestrong Challenge bloggers this week. Well, I planned to get out and ride at least twice… didn‘t happen, though. The weather was gorgeous, so I really have no good excuse- other than meeting with friends, studying or sending out lots and lots of e-mails and letters to keep my fundraising going. At least I was doing some indoor training, and I promise to be better next week!!

The German Government presented their annual report about drugs and drug addiction this week. As usual, there are some good aspects and a lot of bad ones. Let’s start with the bright side:
  • The percentage of young adults (ages 12-17 ) that smoke decreased from 28% (2001) to 20 % (2005)
  • Laws that protect non-smokers have been passed on both federal and local levels. Smoking will be banned from all train-stations within Germany, all busses, trains and airplanes by September 1st, 2007. In addition, there are plans to ban smoking from all official buildings, including schools and hospitals as well as most restaurants.

Of course, there are some negative aspects of this report, too:
  • 1 out of 3 German adults smokes
  • Every year 140.000 Germans die from direct causes of smoking
  • Every year 3.300 Germans die from second-hand smoking
  • Germany sadly is among the leaders of European Countries when it comes to people suffering from skin cancer. 1 out of 5 Germans are being diagnosed with skin cancer- which ranks us 3rd in Europe, right behind Sweden and Denmark.

So, no reason to stop the fight against cancer, but all the little steps are quite motivating to keep on going strong!

May 2, 2007

Happy May Day

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a good May Day- or for most European countries: Labor Day!
Which pretty much means: a whole day to do whatever you want to do! Yeah, right!

First, I had to get up at 6. It was my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary and I was in charge of creating the present- two pages with an illustrated story about how they met all those years ago. It came out beautifully, but all the tiny drawings really made my neck hurt a lot. Oh well, it was all worth it... my parents told me it was a huge hit!

Next, I had to write an essay for college and start on a syllabus for a presentation.
The weather was just perfect and I really planned to get some training miles done- however, it was the first of the month... which means it's time for the monthly mentor newsletter for the Livestrong Challenge!

That reminds me:
Just in case you haven't heard about it, yet:
LIVESTRONG Day 2007 will occur on Wednesday, May 16, 2007. It's the LAF's initiative to unify people affected by cancer and to raise awareness about cancer survivorship issues on a national level and in local communities across the USA- but there's also an event in Ghana, Africa- amazing, isn't it?
To see what Livestrong Day events are being planned across the US, please visit the Livestrong Day Event Page.
However, it's also a great day to tell people in your neighborhood about your fundraising and the LAF in general, to volunteer at a local hospital/ visit cancer patients- or to wear your Livestrong wristband and/or a yellow shirt.

Before long, it was getting dark outside and the only training I managed to get done, was a short 45 minute ride on my stationary bike- oh well, at least I tried.

Apr. 29, 2007

Prizes and Incentives for Livestrong Challenge Raffle

The grand prize of my first major fundraising event benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation has been described in depth on my blog and my fundraising page: signed and game-worn basketball shoes of NBA player Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks.



Plus, as a bonus, the 50th,75th,100th and 200th donation of $10 or more via my fundraising page will each receive a Livestrong magnet to put on your fridge.


More prizes will be added as more donations come in... so please go to my fundraising page- and also tell your friends and family about this blog to get the message across to as many people as possible.

The first donations have been made on my fundraising page, so the first additional prize is a book:
"Every second counts" by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins.

Please continue to donate- there's still a good chance you might win the Dirk Nowitzki shoes!!

Apr. 16, 2007

Livestrong Messenger Bag up for auction

Today, I listed some more items on eBay benefitting the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

I finally decided to part with my Livestrong Messenger Bag that I received as an incentive during the 2005 fundraising season by raising more than 500 Dollars! I only used it once, so it's in an excellent condition and I hope it raises some money for the LAF.

Frances won the auction- the final bid was $ 54.80 - thank you for bidding!

Apr. 12, 2007

From Mentee to Mentor



I’ve been supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation for nearly five years, starting off as a member of the Peleton Project (the former name of what is now the Challenge). This was my first contact with the Foundation and my first attempt at fundraising, so a mentor was assigned to me.

Being from Europe, I was hoping that my mentor would be able to help me deal with the different circumstances and difficulties of raising money outside of the United States. My mentor was from Canada - okay, not exactly Europe, but from outside of the US, so we had something in common and I was looking forward to hear from him.

I waited for the next couple of weeks and then months to hear from him, but he didn't even write me an introduction e-mail! Sure, he did raise lots of money and I’m sure he was an excellent fundraiser, but not really a mentor. What good is a mentor if he doesn’t interact with his group of mentees?

I was disappointed, which resulted in the idea to get involved myself. Since I’ve already been a mentor for exchange students from the US who studied at my university, I was confident enough to apply. Fortunately, the LAF was very interested in having a mentor from Europe, and I started a small European group last season.

I usually get asked why I became a mentor. Some even ask me if I have some personal advantages- e.g. getting paid, getting to meet Lance, getting free entrance to the dinner party, etc.

The answer is easy: I don't have any advantages by being a mentor. I don't get paid- it's completely volunteer work. I didn't get to meet Lance and I don't have any advantages by being a mentor. We are just like everyone else in the Livestrong Challenge- trying to raise money for the LAF.

Being a mentor basically means building a relationship with participants and offering an extra level of support throughout the season. I try to send regular e-mails to the group, covering information about our level of fundraising as a group, certain deadlines which may be important to participants, updates on the website and more.

In addition, whenever a participant has questions about fundraising or the Challenge in general, I try to answer them. If I don’t know the answer or I’m not sure about it I contact the staff in Austin and then give that information to the mentee. In a way I’m an intermediary between the LAF and the participant.

Sometimes mentees have excellent ideas for fundraising or launch their own websites and tell me about them, so I can send the information to all my mentees. It helps promote their webpage and thus spreads information about the Lance Armstrong Foundation, but it’s also a great way to inspire other fundraisers and give them new ideas.

For some, having a mentor means being regularly updated on the Livestrong Challenge series - almost like a newsletter. They are not really interested in interacting, which is okay, and they don‘t reply to e-mails.

Other mentees like to keep in regular e-mail contact with me, and a few even were there when the mentors for the Austin Challenge offered a meet-and-greet opportunity during Challenge weekend. What was really astonishing for me was that although the American mentors had more mentees assigned to them, I was the only mentor who actually got to meet some of their mentees. That was something I didn‘t expect and apparently neither did the other mentors...

I hope more Europeans will join our small group this season - but either way, I can’t wait to continue working with such an amazing group of inspiring European fundraisers. I’ll definitely have a great time during the season... and by the way: I'm the one proudly wearing yellow in the picture.

Apr. 7, 2007

Newsweek's new issue: How I live with cancer

The new "newsweek" issue has the LIVESTRONG wristband on its cover. For a reason: the issue is about how people in America live with cancer.
There are many inspirational, very emotional and personal stories- including an article by Lance: "Lance Armstrong pushes for Cancer Research - We have to be ruthless" and an interview with Elizabeth Edwards talking about the emotional cost of being diagnosed with breast cancer and having to deal with recurrence.

You can check these stories and videos by going to the newsweek website:

Apr. 5, 2007

It's all about the team

"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."
- Babe Ruth -



A couple of years ago, I started thinking about ways to promote the ideas and the work of the LAF in Europe, and I thought it would be a good plan to form a European cycling team.

Basically, what this means is that we Europeans should unite in our fundraising efforts, so that we will be more visible as a group to the Foundation and the American fundraisers. I’m sure there are a lot of Europeans trying to raise money for the LAF already, but they are scattered around as individuals- as a group we would receive more attention and show the Americans that there are very dedicated cyclists in Europe as well.

However, this team is not supposed to be exclusively for Europeans. Cancer is an illness that affects people from all around the world. So this is the team for you if you want to join an international collaborative effort to make a difference in the fight against cancer!!


You don't have to be a brilliant athlete to ride with us, either. You can walk, run, volunteer at the Challenge or even support us while staying at your own home- the only requirement we have is being enthusiastic about making a difference in the fight against cancer and celebrating the Livestrong®
idea.

All you have to do is register at the Livestrong® Challenge webpage and join our team “2007 European Cyclists”. The registration fee is $50. If you want to participate in the walk or volunteer at the event, that’s all you have to do. However, if you want to participate in one of the cycling events, you need to raise at least an additional $250.

If you join the team, you will automatically receive regular team updates. Every single one counts, so please join us by clicking here:



If you can’t make it to Austin October 12-14th 2007, but wish to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation in its fight against cancer, you are more than welcome to donate on my fundraising page and each sum will be greatly appreciated.