Where have all the heroes gone?

Clyde Davis

Baseball players on steroids. Basketball players going into the stands to beat up fans half their size and twice their age. Rock musicians who think they are entitled to break not only rules, but laws, and then whine when they get caught. Actors who speak on subjects they have no knowledge of, and expect to be taken as experts.

Where have all the heroes gone? Go to Austin, Texas, on Oct. 23, and you’ll see quite a few. The Lance Armstrong Foundation will be holding its annual fund-raising ride for cancer, the Ride for the Roses, which in 2004 raised more than $5 million. The goal this year is $7 million, in honor of Armstrong’s seventh Tour de France victory.

Yeah, you might see Lance, or Sheryl Crow, or Scott Hamilton, or Robin Williams, and they are heroes in my book. Not, however, because they are famous, but because they are caring people who happen to be famous. Most of my heroes are not famous.

They are people such as the ladies at the 40-mile rest stop, in a small town 20 miles out of Austin, who organized a follies show doing these really funny dances and routines to entertain the riders last year. Each one is a breast cancer survivor.

They are people such as the high school cheerleaders who were making PBJ sandwiches, mixing Gatorade, and pouring water over your head (whether you wished it or not) at the same rest stop. God willing, most of those kids will never confront cancer.

They are people such as my wife Janice, who never left my side during my bout with cancer, and who trains with me, rides with me, and who to me epitomizes all the dedicated caregivers who nurse a loved one through this dreaded disease. Many of the riders are people like her, who have known cancer through the eyes of a loved one.

They are people such as Dr. Rodney Landreneau (well, he’s a little famous), without whom my cancer story would have had a different ending — he was my lifesaving surgeon.

These heroes are people like all of the bicycle riders who come to this ride because it is “the place to be,” but yes, they still pay their entrance fee and it goes to the foundation.

They are people such as all the Austin residents who don’t get to ride on Sunday because they are too busy volunteering their time to patrol the route, fix broken bikes, man rest stops, host the post ride party.

There will be lots of heroes there, and you can be one of them.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: