A powerful experience for Hunter-Reay
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay and his family relied upon Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG foundation for support as his late mother Lydia battled cancer.
To show his support for LIVESTRONG as well as the organization that honors his mother - Racing for Cancer - Hunter-Reay joined Racing for Cancer founder Tom Vossman at the Austin LIVESTRONG Challenge on Oct. 23-24 in Austin, Texas.
"It was an incredible experience," said Hunter-Reay, who finished seventh in IZOD IndyCar Series points for Andretti Autosport. "We got a chance to meet with Lance and Doug Ullman, CEO of LIVESTRONG, at their headquarters and shared a lot of ideas back and forth. It's amazing what they have planned there and I think you will see a lot more involvement between LIVESTRONG and Racing for Cancer."
Hunter-Reay and his fiancée Beccy Gordon formed one half of Team Racing for Cancer in Armstrong's annual Ride for the Roses fundraiser, which consists of rides of 10, 20, 45, 65 and 90 miles through the Texas Hill Country.
Hunter-Reay, who uses cycling as part of his regular fitness routine, rode with members of Armstrong's Team Radio Shack - including Tour de France participants Levi Leipheimer and Yaroslav Popovich and actor and sports car racer Patrick Dempsey.
"We did the 45 miles because that was what Lance and Radio Shack did," Hunter-Reay said. "When they turned off, we turned off. We started off in the front with them and stayed with the group. It was a challenging ride on some awesome roads. I was a better climber when I lived in California, and I can see why (those roads) helped make Lance so strong."
But the weekend for Hunter-Reay was more than just the ride. Because the event is one of LIVESTRONG's main annual fundraisers, it was also a chance for Racing for Cancer's leaders to get support and advice from a group that is known worldwide as a leader in advocacy for those with cancer and their families.
"It was really great to sit down with those guys and talk about the future and how we can collaborate between Racing for Cancer and LIVESTRONG and bring the two groups closer together," said Hunter-Reay, who serves as Racing for Cancer's ambassador.
"LIVESTRONG and the entire movement have played a big part in my life especially the last three or four years. I've been wearing a yellow band since the whole thing started and a few years later, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. We leaned on them for support and they were very helpful. It's very important when you're fighting cancer to have some belief and faith and that's what they do so well. It gives you a support system and you can fall back on those real life stories to see how others are dealing with this disease. It's such an inspirational and helped us prolong my mom's life."
And it was also another chance for Hunter-Reay to honor his mom and say thank you to the community that he has become a part of.
"LIVESTRONG has raised so much money in the fight against cancer," he said "It's great to be a part of e everything from the dinners that everyone attends, to the sharing of ideas with people and the ride. Everything I am doing is in my mom's honor and memory and it was so cool to put (her name) on my back. But you know that there are 3,000 other riders with names on their back too. It's an eye opener to see how many people are affected by cancer. It was very powerful."