Not that it’s too late, but you may have to get on a waiting list to get in on what is arguably this year’s biggest cultural phenomenon.You can see it on world-class athletes, pop-culture icons, politicians, truck drivers, housewives and kids of all ages. This year’s “it” fashion article wasn’t dreamed up by a top designer, nor was it ever planned to be such a global and cross cultural phenomenon. World-class cyclist Lance Armstrong has the look everyone is going for.It seems like “Livestrong” bracelets are as common as SUV’s around this valley. The Lance Armstrong Foundation has reported sales of nearly 17 million of these yellow, rubbery circles, worn on the wrist or on ankles. My kids each have two and my wife and I wear ours proudly on our wrists. Costing only a dollar with all proceeds going towards cancer advocacy, education, support programs and research, the bracelets are emblazoned with the motto “Livestrong.”Nike has helped fund this process with an initial million-dollar investment and the continued promotion of the Foundation’s cause. This investment plus an original supply of five million bracelets hoped to raise six million dollars for LAF. They have by far exceeded that.When we first bought ours at a Denver sports store in late spring we were literally the first people in Colorado (besides a few Nike reps) to get them. They opened the first box of them right in front of us and I bought a bunch of extras for friends. I had heard about them through Lance Armstrong’s website and even they thought it would be an ultimate goal to reach sales of five million originally donated by Nike.The original idea, everyone assumed, was to wear them through the three weeks of Tour de France but then, after winning his sixth straight Tour Armstrong announced that he would never take his off.I took that as a personal challenge and decided I would do the same. They’re waterproof, they don’t fade and the material is likely to outlast me so why not show some solidarity.Just me and Lance, a commitment for life to “Livestrong”.So I thought.Months after my kids also made up their minds not to take theirs off it sure seems that everyone that originally had them decided to do the same. These things are everywhere, and then there are the latecomers that are suddenly wearing them seemingly as a must-have fashion piece. Many people I’ve asked have no clue what these yellow gems are all about. They just know they “have to” have them.They’re so popular that the Lance Armstrong Foundation has had to contract with two more factories to fill the two month backlog of orders. Stores have figured out that if they have them people will come, so they continue to order the 1,000 unit boxes which are often sold out in just a day. To make it a true cultural phenomenon, however, you have to be able to find them on eBay and guess what: you can do just that, with some selling for over $20. Now that’s just crazy. One of the greatest fundraisers ever conceived has now been corrupted by greed. But hey, as long as they’re not knock-offs, Lance’s Foundation is getting something from their original sales.I can’t wait to see how long some of these are on other people’s wrists but I have a strong feeling that heaven will be aglow in yellow in 50 years. VTHarald Fricker writes about athletes and the outdoor lifestyle bi-weekly for the Vail Trail. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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