Margaret and Dick   

     

    
July '04: Lance Armstrong Foundation visits Limoux

We've pulled off a PR coup that simultaneously benefited the Lance Armstrong Foundation,  Limoux’s mayor, and the Limoux cycling club.  Like most political events in Limoux, it ended up with gifts of wine.  More about that later.

 

Earlier in the summer, the LAF had asked me to be a bilingual press representative for them in France during the Tour de France.  I translated a press release, did a phone interview, and interacted with Nike France who is sponsoring the LiveSTRONG yellow wristband fundraising campaign.

 

Professional sports photographers Liz Kreutz, James Bonney, and Alex Jones were following the Tour de France stages, driving a van painted bright yellow with the LAF LiveSTRONG logo in big letters.  We had first met Liz when she was director of the LAF Peloton project in its early years.  Their bright yellow van added a PR presence for LAF on each stage of the Tour de France.  They had arranged to stay with us over the weekend between the Pyrenees and Alps stages.  On days when the Tour was in the mountains, they would drive up the mountain the night before in order to find parking, often arriving after after a long day covering the previous stage.

 

On the evening of their planned arrival in Limoux, I had prepared a dinner to welcome them and thank three couples who had been donors to our LAF fundraising.  Timing was left flexible because half the guests had gone off on bikes to climb the Plateau de Beille, a mountaintop finish for that day.  With one narrow road up and the same road down, a traffic jam was inevitable as 20,000 Tour watchers tried to get down off the mountain.  Bikes descend faster than cars and RVs, so Margaret had predicted they might be home by .  At she phoned to tell us to begin dinner without them.  The cyclists arrived around , but still no LAF RV.  Liz phoned around to say that they were still stuck on the mountain.  Luckily they had been adopted by a French family also immobilized, who fed them and poured wine, as they all waited for the traffic jam to clear.  They finally arrived in Limoux arrived at After that marathon day, LAF visitors Liz, James, and Alex, it was a welcome relief to get out of the RV, sleep in real beds, take real showers, and relax from their grueling schedule for a day. 

 

As their Monday departure approached, Margaret said:  “Wait a minute.  We’re missing a great photo-op with the mayor.”  Our long-time mayor and member of parliament Jean-Paul Dupré never misses an opportunity to demonstrate the good work he does for Limoux and the region.  With Lance Armstrong doing so well in the Tour, even the French had to admire him, and anyone can appreciate the good work done by the LAF for cancer survivors.

 

Margaret rushed off to Roger’s house.  Roger, the neighborhood precinct captain, made the right phone call to get through the mayor’s guardian-at-the-gate.  Mayor Dupré would be happy to rearrange his schedule to meet the press at the LAF RV in an hour.

 

We rushed to change clothes and quickly edit and print a French language press release specific to this Limoux event.  Roger lined up representatives of the regional press and told us to line up the cycling club president and some local cyclists.


The appointed hour arrived with only the punctual Americans at the RV.  Some Limoux cyclists arrived, then the press, and finally the mayor.  The mayor extended a warm welcome to the LAF guests.  Margaret presented the mayor with a yellow LiveSTRONG wristband.  Liz handed out bright yellow souvenir fans printed with “Lance Fan.”  The mayor positioned a pretty woman on each side of him, and cameras clicked.

 

Everybody seemed satisfied with this affair.  The mayor was visibly linked to the good work of the LAF, since LAF fundraisers Dick and Margaret reside in Limoux.  The Limoux cycling club got good visibility linked to the presumed Tour de France winner and promised to committed to raising donations for yellow wristbands.

 

“But wait,” said the mayor, as we all prepared to depart.  “How about a souvenir carton of wine from Limoux for our honored guests?”  That idea was welcomed, so he sent the associate mayor off to city hall where they keep the wine gifts.  Ten minutes later a municipal police car drove up with the cargo:  a carton of three bottles for each of our LAF visitors.  A quick look revealed that these were three of the top wines of Limoux. 

All’s well that ends with wine gifts from the mayor of Limoux.



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