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Lance Armstrong Thought the Yellow LIVESTRONG Armbands ‘Would Be A Joke’

Left to right: Lance Ulanoff, Lance Armstrong, and Doug Ulman

Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong put aside the difficult year he’s been having to take the stage on Tuesday with the president and CEO of his LIVESTRONG foundation, Doug Ulman, at the second annual Social Good Summit, which wrapped up today in NYC. The two talked about the evolution of LIVESTRONG, which is devoted to improving the lives of people with cancer.

While Armstrong has lived the high-profile life of an internationally-known professional athlete, he didn’t expect the popularity of the yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet. Armstrong said he “originally thought the yellow armbands would be a joke.” Instead, as Ulman noted, “the yellow armband democratized philanthropy” by allowing people to give small donations. “They started the movement and changed the conversation,” he added.

Using innovation and technology to help solve the world’s greatest challenges was the focus of the conference, which was presented in partnership with Mashable,  92nd Street Y, and the United Nations Foundation during United Nations Week.

Armstrong reported that due to the weak economy “funding now is a challenge and we need more resources.” Ulman was optimistic about the role of social media to help, saying, “These tools have revolutionized non-profit organizations.” He explained that “social media allows LIVESTRONG to be more effective in public policy” since it is so cost-effective to reach their audience. Armstrong prefers to use Twitter, and Ulman said now they need to focus more on “targeting their message.”

An important aspect of the fight against cancer involves the perceptions of the disease. Armstrong credited the “1980s breast cancer movement with destigmatizing all forms of cancer,” including those that men suffer from. He sees the same phenomenon occurring now in other countries, such as Mexico. As celebrities there who are afflicted with cancer openly discuss their battle, it helps to destigmatize the disease for everyone else.

Click here for a wrap-up of the final day of the conference.

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