August 06, 2009

2009 First Descents Leadville Fundraiser

Dear Friends,

One year ago, my best and oldest friend, Allan Goldberg, died of cancer at age 40. Allan was a special person who spent nearly his entire adult life as a crusader in the Cancer world, culminating with his last years spent as the Executive Director for the First Descents cancer foundation. First Descents is an amazing grass-roots organization that operates outdoor adventure camps free of charge for young adults, ages 18-40, with or recovering from the devastating effects of cancer (

In the summer of 2006, while in the early throes of chemotherapy and radiation, Allan challenged me to attempt to compete in the 2007 Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race in Leadville, Colorado. This was a daunting task for a weekend warrior as the Leadville 100 is widely considered to be one of the most difficult and grueling one day endurance mountain bike races in the world. When I considered what my friend was facing, I accepted the challenge, enlisted a few other biking friends to join me, trained for nearly a year and succeeded in not only completing the race in a respectable time, but in raising over $80,000 for the First Descents foundation. Sadly, Allan passed away in June, 2008, however, we all felt strongly about continuing to support his memory and his legacy through the First Descents mission. So we raced in Leadville again in 2008, each of us improving on our performance from the prior year. Most importantly, last summer we succeeded in raising nearly $115,000 for First Descents and were directly responsible for making a dramatic difference in so many young lives that had been scarred by cancer.

Over these last 3 years, our support of First Descents has become one of the most fulfilling endeavors in my life and my wife Lisa's life. Allan gave us the impetus and a platform, but Lisa and I have fully immersed ourselves in the First Descents mission. I am a member of the First Descents Board of Directors and I can't even count how many volunteer jobs and projects Lisa has undertaken for the foundation. For starters, Lisa spent a magical, emotional, uplifting and inspiring week last summer as a volunteer "Camp Mom" at a First Descents camp in Montana. She was so taken and consumed by the program that she has since volunteered her time as a camper recruiter, an expert with the FD organizational software, a donation thank-you note writer, a data inputter, and an inspired vocal advocate. She is simply amazing. In fact, I highly highly encourage you to read her blog of her experiences the past two summers as "Stepmom" the First Descents camp mom. You can view it at It is a truly emotional window into the world of First Descents and it vividly illustrates why this program is so important in the far-reaching world of cancer. Needless to say, Lisa will likely volunteer for a week every summer from now on. As for me, Allan has unwittingly turned me into an endurance bike junkie and I will be proudly donning my Team First Descents gear in 4 different 100+ mile road and mountain bike events this summer, including Leadville on August 15.

So once again, it is with great humility and a full recognition of the economic times that I am again asking (and begging if necessary) for your support as we attempt to raise another $100,000 for First Descents (an amount sufficient to fully subsidize almost 100 young adult cancer survivors for a weeklong First Descents program). Lisa and I have gotten the ball rolling by increasing our donation from last year with a substantial (for us) sponsorship (which can be viewed on the donation web-page). Once again we are providing great incentives including our very popular t-shirts, bike jerseys designed by Vail artist Mike Friedberg, Leadville 100 hats AND signed LANCE ARMSTRONG bike jerseys to the top 20 donors who donate $1500 or higher (with the top 3 donors to receive the signed jerseys mounted and beautifully framed). Lance Armstrong came in 2nd in the 2008 Leadville 100 and attributes his participation in the race as the trigger behind his return to professional racing. We’re hoping he races with us again this August. Donations of any amount are appreciated, however here are the special donation levels:

$150 or more - Team First Descents T-Shirt
$250 or more - Team First Descents 2008 Bike Jersey
$500 or more – Artist-Designed 2009 Team First Descents cycling jersey
$1,000 or more – Special package of T-shirt, 2009 Bike Jersey and a Leadville 100 hat
PLUS– 20 highest donors over $1000 – t-shirt, jersey, hat AND autographed Lance Armstrong First Descents bike jersey
3 Highest Donors – Beautifully framed and mounted Team First Descents Jersey signed by Lance Armstrong

You can make a donation online by visiting my Team First Descents fundraising webpage at Alternatively, you can make a donation the old-fashioned way by sending a check payable to “First Descents” and send to:

Team First Descents
c/o Brent Goldstein
13709 Lakewood Court
Rockville, Maryland 20850

On behalf of First Descents, the memory of my friend Allan and those survivors whose lives have been changed by First Descents, thank you in advance for your help and support.

P.S. Please also consider of First Descents (via my Leadville donation page) if you are ever looking for a worthy cause for making a small gift in someone’s honor or a donation in memory of a friend’s/family member’s passing. First Descents will process beneficiary letters to your honoree or memoriam family for any donation amount.

P.S.S. If interested, we also have specially designed matching cycling shorts that are available for purchase or as additional donation incentive. Please contact me for information.

1 comment:

Lara said...

Hi Brent,

My name is Lara James and I am the daughter of Carolyn and Ron Willis. It has been a long time since our mom's used to trade playdates, but I have vague recollections of trying to tag along with you & Eric.

My mom has kept me posted on the great work you have done with first descents. It is actually why I am writing to you.

Like you, I have a friend touched by cancer, but in my case it is not a young adult, but rather a courageous little boy named Gage Dole. His father and I went to business school together here in Oregon. Gage was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma in May of 2005 and endured a year of radiation. In spring of 2006 he went into remission, that fall he was diagnosed with leukemia, a secondary cancer caused by the radiation. He had a bone marrow transplant early in 2007. Early in 2008 he had a recurrence of the Ewings and has been in and out of chemo since. Gage is now eight years old and though he is nearly out of options, he continues to fight.

He is a very active little guy despite his disease. However, over the last few months the tumor in his spine is causing him a lot of pain. He can no longer ride his bike, but his parents beleive that if he could get a recumbent bike he could ride again comfortably, at least, enough that the joy of riding would overcome any pain.

When I was thinking about him today and what his mom has told me about trying to get him a recumbent bike , you popped into my head as someone that might have some bike connections due to your work with First Descents and the Leadville 100. It was too late to call my mom on the east coast to get your e-mail, but thanks to Google I tracked down your blog.

The link to Gage's caring bridge site is If you can think of any contacts that might be of help in gettng him a recumbent bike that would be amazing. I know as spring approaches and the sun comes out he'll be wanting to get out and play, it breaks my heart that his pain keeps him from doing that.

I am talking to local bike shops here in Portland, but I know the more feelers I put out there the better chance there is of Gage getting some fun out of what could be his last summer in Oregon.

I think that what you do with First Descents is amazing. You are truly honoring the memory of your friend by inspiring and giving back to young adults impacted by this insideous disease.

Let me know if you have any ideas or connections that would help Gage.

Lara James