Sunday, October 17, 2004

Alert: I Almost Missed a Trend

Image courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Foundation website.

Have I been under a rock? In a coma? In a drunken stupor?

No, No, and thanks to God, No.

So why then am I only finding out about these LIVESTRONG bracelets now?

Apparently they're a fundraiser for Lance Armstrong's foundation, which helps fight cancer through education and advocacy. The bracelets are yellow rubber and cost a dollar each, you can find them on their website or at Niketown stores. Nike is helping to push the bands, which are being used to assist a five million dollar campaign for the cyclist's charity. The tennis shoe maker says it will pony up another cool mil. if everyone and their mother (or at least five million people) buy the wristbands.

I discovered these bracelets after receiving one as a favor at a wedding I attended last night (no, I did not catch the bouquet). The bride and groom had opted to make a charitable donation in honor of all the guests, and placed one of these bracelets at each place setting as a small token.

The folks at my table informed me these bracelets are the hottest things going these days, with even the presidential candidates sucking up to the sensitive set, wearing the golden accessory on their respective campaign trails.

Photo Courtesy of the AP

Celebrities aren't out out of the loop on this one, either. Bruce Willis, Sheryl Crow and Robin Williams have all been spotted with LIVESTRONG on the wrist. So have Pamela Anderson, Matt Damon and Bono.

Do a Google search and you'll notice some criticism of the bands, saying it makes trendy what people should already be doing: giving to charity. Others say this is a commercial bandwagon for folks to outwardly display their acts of kindness for all the world to see. Still others wag a shameful finger at Nike, saying their association with the bracelet is a shoddy attempt at a reputation renovation.

I say nay to all those naysayers.

It's charity, plain and simple.

If a simple piece of yellow rubber incites others to give their money to a good cause, more power to it. As for Nike, well, I'm not so down with their child labor practices, but it appears they're trying to put the best rubber-soled foot forward. And If some folks wanna feel cool and braggadocious about where they give their money, let 'em. No one said you had to be quiet about your contributions. Sure, that would be the classy way to act, but one needs to spend no more than five minutes in a Starbucks to know that class is going the way of handwritten thank you notes (another travesty, in my book).

I am proudly wearing my LIVESTRONG bracelet.

And I just bought ten more.

1 comment:

Thomas J. Brown said...

While I agree that its widespread popularity is beneficial, I can't help but be turned off from it simply because it's so damn popular. I've never been "hip", nor do I have any desire to be. I do, however, really like Lance Armstrong, believe strongly in his cause and am more than willing to donate money to it, but not just so I can get some stupid rubber bracelet and be "cool" like everyone else.

What I think the naysayers are saying nay to is the fact that people are, in a matter of speaking, abusing the charity. Perhaps I should say that they're using it for their own benefit. As with any trend, this bracelet has become a status symbol (or, in the case of Nike, a methods by which they can attempt to cause consumers to forget about their questionable business practices). There are those with the bracelet and those without. Are you a Sneetch with a star on your belly or one without?

We've hit a new low when society constructs an elitist attitude around a charity. So while it may be charity, it's not plain and simple.