Armstrong to visit Howard

Tour de France veteran to attend cancer fund events

May 11, 2007|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,special to the sun

Lance Armstrong will come to Howard County in October to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France and possibly the world's best-known young cancer survivor, will speak at a dinner at the Spear Center in Columbia and then attend athletic competitions organized by the Ulman Cancer Fund. Since Armstrong will be in training for the New York City Marathon, it is not known whether he will participate in the bicycling or running events.

The Ulman Cancer Fund was started in 1997 by Doug Ulman, the brother of County Executive Ken Ulman. Doug Ulman was diagnosed with cancer when he was 19.

A three-time cancer survivor, Doug Ulman is president of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), which provides information, inspiration and support to people with cancer. He is also on the board of the Ulman Cancer Fund.

"It's the first time that Lance is coming to one of our events," said Doug Ulman. Though Armstrong has long been supportive of the Ulman Cancer Fund -- and recently announced a personal donation of $100,000 -- Ulman said he wanted to wait for a special occasion before inviting Armstrong to Howard County.

Ulman, speaking by phone from Texas, said he will attend all the events, and plans to run in one of the races.

Armstrong is scheduled to visit Howard County from Oct. 26-27. On Oct. 26, he will attend a dinner at the Spear Center in the General Growth Properties building in Columbia. Armstrong is expected to speak about Doug Ulman, the Ulman Cancer Fund and his experiences as a cancer survivor. He might also discuss the importance of making cancer research a national priority, Ulman said.

Jen Bloomer, account executive with Maroon PR, a Howard County firm that is organizing and marketing the event, said the dinner will be for about 400 people. Tickets will go on sale in July, she said. The price has not been set.

At the dinner, Armstrong will honor 10 young cancer survivors from throughout the country. Ulman said those honorees have not yet been chosen, but they will likely be people who have benefited from Ulman scholarships or other programs. They will attend the dinner if they are able, but as Ulman noted, some may be undergoing treatment that prevents them from traveling.

On Oct. 27, the Ulman Cancer Fund will host bike races and several runs, as well as a child-friendly biking and running competition. Those will start at Symphony Woods, and Armstrong will be on hand to comment and possibly participate.

The events, known collectively as "10 -- The Event," were announced yesterday afternoon at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. At the announcement, a video of Ulman and Armstrong was shown.

In the clip, Ulman explained that he started the fund 10 years ago to help young cancer survivors. "Frustrated by the lack of support programs and literature directed to the needs of young adults affected by cancer, my family and I created the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults to fill this void," said Ulman, who also noted that survival rates have not increased since 1975 for the 25 to 39 age group.

Then Armstrong spoke. He announced that he was donating $100,000 over four years to the fund. "In addition," he said, "I'll be visiting Maryland in October to help the Ulman Cancer Fund in the celebration of their 10 year anniversary in Howard County."

Ulman and Armstrong are athletes who were diagnosed with cancer while in their physical prime. Ulman was a Division I soccer player at Brown University, and has organized countless sporting events in support of the Ulman Cancer Fund.

The two struck up an e-mail friendship through their cancer advocacy, and five years ago, Doug Ulman took a job with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. In January, he was promoted to president.

"We've talked about doing something for our 10th anniversary since probably year eight or nine," said Brock Yetso, who is the executive director of the Ulman Cancer Fund

Yetso said the funds from Armstrong and the anniversary event will go toward scholarships for young cancer survivors, as well as other programs that meet the needs of young people with cancer.

"We're always sort of nipping at Doug, saying `Hey, can we get Lance here to do an event,'" he said. "Things just sort of lined up well. He felt strongly that he wanted to come and recognize Doug."

A Web site for "10 - The Event" has been established and will be updated as information becomes available. The address is www.10theevent.com/event.htm.

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