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Basalt resident heads to capital as advocate

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times
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The Lance Armstrong Foundation has chosen Basalt resident Keith Webster to speak to lawmakers about cancer as part of the 2006 Livestrong Day.

“Most of the people in my life have been affected in one way or another,” said Webster, whose grandfather, mother, and numerous aunts and uncles have battled cancer. “My whole family has been touched by it.”

So he has spent time, especially during the last four years, working to raise money for cancer research. One part of that has been doing rides with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. At a ride in Moab, Utah, a few months ago, he talked to Barry Jackson, who is working for the foundation to create grass-roots support on cancer-related issues this year.



As part of that first big push, the foundation is funding two people from every state to travel to Washington to speak with their representatives and senators. Jackson suggested that Webster apply.

“They’re flying us up there and paying for hotels,” said Webster, who will arrive in D.C. today. The following day involves training. Then on Wednesday, Livestrong Day, Webster and the 99 other advocates will meet with their representatives and senators.




“50 years ago, if you got cancer, you died,” Webster said. “The way treatment has gone there are more and more survivors.”

More than 10 million Americans are living with, through or beyond cancer. One in three people will receive a diagnosis of cancer during their lifetimes.

Webster commented that his advocacy will focus on legislation and funding for programs that will support cancer survivors and people living with cancer. For instance, there is no law requiring an employer to take an employee with cancer back after six months or a year of treatment.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation donates millions of dollars for research and advocacy, it also focuses on education. More and more, money is going to support people living with cancer and survivors of cancer, like Armstrong.

At age 25, doctors diagnosed Armstrong with a cancer that had spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain. He created the foundation before his recovery. After overcoming cancer and returning to cycling, he won the Tour de France six times in a row.

“I would love to meet the guy,” said Webster, who also said he has felt inspired to get a resource center going in the valley, probably in Carbondale. Already, the first parts of the center are falling into place.

He spoke Thursday with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and will have conversations about partnering up with the Lance Armstrong Foundation during his visit to D.C.

“I want to see what I can learn while I’m up there, see what I can bring back and utilize here,” Webster said.

Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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