Armstrong Foundation Bracelets Become Fundraising Phenomenon

Armstrong Foundation Bracelets Become Fundraising Phenomenon

When the Lance Armstrong Foundation in Austin, Texas, launched the "Wear Yellow, Live Strong" campaign in May 2004, it had a simple goal: sell five million yellow wristbands for $1 each and Nike would throw in $1 million; then use the $6 million to help young people living with cancer. But no one thought the campaign would take off the way it has. In fact, as of this week, the organization has sold twenty million bracelets and it can't keep up with the demand, the Washington Post reports.

Some say the bands are this year's cause-related fashion statement, and there's no doubt that Nike and Armstrong have come up with an exceptionally effective and far-reaching fundraising strategy. Wearers of the bands, which are emblazoned with the words "LIVE STRONG," include high school and college kids, athletes, politicians, professors, and celebrities such as Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Bruce Willis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Serena Williams, and cancer survivor Senator John Kerry. In 1997, Armstrong was diagnosed and treated for testicular cancer that had invaded his brain and lungs; during his treatment, and before his complete recovery, he established the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Two years later, he won his first Tour de France.

"Our goal was to raise $1 million for each of Lance's six Tour de France wins," foundation spokesperson Michelle Milford told the Post. "What happened after that was a wonderful, totally unexpected surprise. We kept thinking demand would eventually fall off. But it hasn't."

One sure way to get the wristbands is through the charity's Web site, but the current wait is three weeks. They can also be found on eBay for as much as $36, but the sales don't help the charity. "Too many consumers believe the money is coming to us," said Milford. "It's not. If you buy them on eBay, you are basically lining someone else's pocket."

Alicia Shepard. "Wrist and Recuperation." Washington Post 10/26/2004.