Cycling from the headquarters of the Lebanese Red Cross to those of Heartbeat, Offre Joie, and Beit El-Baraka, famous American former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong joined a group of cyclists in support of the Beirut blast victims.
Helping raise funds for the aforementioned NGOs, Armstrong toured Beirut on Sunday, attracting fans and amateur cyclists and, more importantly, much-needed donations to the event dubbed “Bike for Beirut.”
Participation in the one-day event cost $300 per person.
Additional donations were accepted via the initiative’s website as well as WhatsApp, and the collected funds were set to be equally distributed among the 4 reputable NGOs.
Over 30 participants, including Lebanese sportsman, mountaineer, and explorer Maxime Chaya, who helped organize the event, cycled with Armstrong in the streets of Beirut.
Armstrong’s visit to the Lebanese capital comes 2 months after the devastating explosion that left it in ruins and prompted the start of the humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts that are still ongoing.
The iconic cyclist’s participation in the initiative, despite the notorious controversy that stripped him of his career-defining wins, was welcomed by the Lebanese Red Cross, which has been restless in Beirut ever since the August 4th blast.
“At the start, there were a lot of funds and we hope that the funds will come back,” an LRC volunteer told The National, hoping that Armstrong’s gesture would attract more donations to the organization.
“It’s been two months since the explosion and maybe people have lost interest in helping the Lebanese Red Cross,” Oudey Hamadeh added.
While the word “legendary” easily fits Armstrong’s cycling career, “scandalous” often accompanies it as well, due to the doping allegations that he faced and repeatedly denied after concluding his professional run.
This, of course, didn’t stop Lebanese and foreign admirers and fans from participating and cycling by his side for the benefit of the beloved, devastated Beirut.
*All images used in this article belong to AFP, via The National