For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 3, 2001
Remarks by the President
In Ceremony Honoring Lance Armstrong
the East Room
3:00 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Please be
seated. It's my privilege to welcome you all to the White
House, and to welcome my friend, a true champ, a great American, Lance
Armstrong. (Applause.) America's incredibly proud
of Lance, and I know two people who are really proud of him as well,
that's Kristin, his wife, and young Luke. Thank you all for
coming, as well. (Applause.)
We're also honored to have Chris Fowler of
ESPN here. I'm so -- thank you for coming,
Chris. I was telling Chris a little earlier, it's one of the
programs I can watch on TV that doesn't say anything about me at all.
I want to thank the members of my Cabinet
who are here. Thank you all for coming. I want to
thank the members of the United States Congress and the Senate who are
here. I see a lot from the Texas delegation here that are
sure proud of you.
You all know the Tour de France is perhaps
the most physically demanding event in sports. It lasts
three weeks, stretches over 2100 miles, and is often run in both
sweltering heat and real cold weather. In the end, the race
is won or lost in the mountains. During five days of climbs
that are incredibly steep and hazardous -- that's when the heart is
tested, and that's when Lance Armstrong excels.
In the hardest part of the race, Lance
reveals an unbending will, uncommon determination and unquestioned
courage. He has shown that courage is sport. He
has also shown that courage in life.
Just a few years ago, Lance was diagnosed
with cancer. He was weakened by chemotherapy treatments and
told he had a 50-50 chance of living. He has done more than
survive: He has triumphed. (Applause.)
One observer commented that when you
survive cancer, the French Alps start to look like speed
Lance's story from cancer diagnosis to a
third straight victory in the Tour de France is one of the great human
stories. It is a story of character and it is a story of
Germany's Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour de
France champion, is Lance Armstrong's chief competitor. The
two of them were leading during a critical stage of this year's Tour de
France when Ullrich lost control of his bicycle, missed a turn and
ended up in a ditch. When Lance saw what happened, he slowed
down in order to allow his chief competitor to recover. It was, as
Lance said, the right thing to do.
We need more citizens who know to do the
right thing. Lance
Armstrong. (Applause.) He's something else, isn't
Lance Armstrong is a vivid reminder that
the great achievements of life are often won or lost in the mountains,
when the climb is the steepest, when the heart is
tested. There are many children in this audience who are
showing similar determination in their fight with cancer and other
serious illnesses. You face tough challenges and you embrace
life day by day. You're showing courage on your own journey,
and all of us are inspired by your example as well.
Ladies and gentleman, it is my honor to
present to you a son of Texas, a great American champion, and an
extraordinary human being: Lance
MR. ARMSTRONG: Thank you very
much. You know, it's an honor to be
here. President Bush has been a friend of ours and a friend
of mine for many years, back in -- since his days in Austin, right in
the wonderful state of Texas. As an American, as an athlete,
to be honored here in the White House, to be welcomed here like this,
to see a crowd like this, to see children like this that I've never met
before, but I think I relate to very well --
(Luke Armstrong cheers.)
MR. ARMSTRONG: -- even this
little guy, I think I relate to very well, who's the most vocal one
here. What color is that is that jersey?
LUKE ARMSTRONG: Yo-yo.
MR. ARMSTRONG: Yo-yo,
yes. (Laughter and applause.) It's an honor to be
here. And again, I can't say enough, to have my family, to
have some friends, to have this room full of people to welcome us home
and to make us feel like Americans and like -- and maybe even like
heroes. I don't know; that's not a word we can give to
ourselves, but thanks for having us.
To the kids, good luck, fight hard, stay
tough, and believe. Actually, we have one more thing to
do. Because, as you see, there's a bicycle here that me and
Kristin and Luke would like to present to the President. We
expect him to ride it. (Laughter.)
We also have a yellow jersey from this
year's Tour de France we would like him to wear while he rides the
(A bike and a jersey are presented.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all
for coming to the White House. May God bless you
all. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 3:05 P.M. EDT
challenge Americans to be citizens, not spectators, in the
renewal of their neighborhoods and their cities.
In a few days, I'm headed
home to the heartland, to listen to the
American people, and to talk about the
values that unite and sustain our country.
Members of Congress are going home as
well. When we all come
back in September, so many
accomplishments are within our reach. And I look forward to
the work ahead.
Thank you all very much.