How he used his breakout film The Tour Baby to become the LAF's #1 Fundraiser in 2005

After returning from my first trip to the Tour de France in 2000 with over 18 hours of video from following the entire race, I thought I had the makings of a film. I traded my ex-fiancÚ's engagement ring for a computer, bought some editing software and began to learn how to edit my footage. I spent about two days on the project when I walked away; racking this up as another good idea I would never follow through on. Besides, I had some great excuses. I was broke and had no idea what I was doing.

In December of 2000, my best friend's 10-year-old daughter, Claire, was diagnosed with an advanced case of large cell neuroblastoma cancer. It had already spread from her brain to her spinal cord and I knew I had to do something big to help. I declared to my friend that I would raise $100,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation as my way of fighting for his daughter. I was inspired to make a full-blown movie about my Tour de France adventure and I would use it to raise the money.

It took me over two years to complete the film. By October of 2003, I had managed to raise $22,000 for the LAF by hosting screening of the film. I gave away free copies in exchange for $100 donations. Others helped by hosting screenings of the film in their area. Bike clubs, Tour de France nuts, film buffs, and those touched by cancer rallied behind my goal and answered my call for help.

In 2004, I managed to raise about $33,000 bringing my total to date to $55,000, just over my halfway point. For the first time, I felt as if I might actually achieve my lofty goal. By April of 2005, I had raised another $45,000 and the long quest was finally over, or so I thought. Later that same month I learned my former business partner and mentor, Richard LeKander had a very advanced form or stomach cancer. He endured an unsuccessful surgery to remove a thirty-pound tumor that had gone undetected for at least seven years. His death a few weeks later rocked me to the core. With clear evidence that there was more work to be done for early detection, I recommitted myself to my fundraising efforts. I pledged to be the top fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong's Peloton Project in 2005 to honor my mentor's life. The only problem was that I had only raised $45,000 and the current top fundraiser already had $82,000 in the bank and we had five months to go.

Over the years, many people put on screenings of my film to contribute to the cause. My most notable contributor was John Tegeris. John had heard about my goal, read about Claire and shared my passion for the Tour de France. He wrote me an e-mail outlining the three screenings of the film that he wanted to do in the Washington D.C. area. He included a detailed plan for logistics, fundraising and promotion. All I had to do was say yes, and I did.

With the extra push from John, I managed to pull ahead raising $90,000 for the year with six weeks left in the competition. However, with about three weeks to go, the man I was battling for the number one spot, had a big submitted a huge check pulling him ahead by $16,000. Feeling a little disappointed for not achieving my goal, I relaxed when the LAF called to say I was also going to be honored as a top fundraiser. The two of us were so close and had far surpassed the third place supporter. This was great news for me.

To thank John for his hard work, I invited him to be my special guest at Lances' celebration in Austin Texas. Lance throws a weekend extravaganza for all the participants of the Peleton Project, culminating in the Ride for the Roses. As the event drew near, Lance's voice would enter my head "second place is the first loser". My thoughts would wander back to the seven silver medals I won in two years at District Championships and how I would happily trade them all for one gold. Other times, I would remember that I accomplished a great deal, helping countless people in the process.

John and I arrived late Thursday night in anticipation of the Ride for the Roses weekend. I planned to give John my spot on the private ride with Lance Friday morning and attend the LiveSTRONG expo Friday afternoon to sell films. The celebration dinner was scheduled for that same evening. The Foundation staff informed us that I was going to be co-honored as a top fundraiser and be presented a bike by Lance. At this time I would have an opportunity to speak.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum as they say. Thursday night we arrived and the top fundraiser went out of his way to find me. He introduced himself, shook my hand and said "good show" which was nice of him to do. However, something didn't sit right with me about it. When you whip someone in a competition, do you go find the guy you beat, and introduce yourself? That, combined with the voices in my head calling me the "first loser" and all those second places metals motivated me to tell John that I was going to go to that dinner as the number one fundraiser. The dinner was less than 20 hours away and we were $16,000 behind. "How are you going to do that?" cried John. "I don't know" I said, and we turned in for the night.

The next morning, we got up early for John's private ride with Lance. While all that was going on, I began formulating a plan. At previous bike trade shows and expos, the most money I had ever raised by selling films was about $2000 so I knew that wasn't going to work. I had to come up with something bold and audacious. It hit me. I knew what to do and began smiling like the Cheshire cat. When John came back and asked me what the plan was all I said was "Watch."

We hit the LiveSTRONG expo when it opened at noon and I began giving away my films. People were astounded "Why are you giving this to me for free?" I explained that I was committed to raising $16,000 in the next five hours and need all the help I could get. I was in the market for donations, good ideas to get more donations, and people willing to donate even more. I could use all the help I could get. Wow, did that ever work. A buzz went around the expo that Scott was doing something crazy. People started coming to the booth asking how they could help and started giving me money. I got donations from $5 to $100. Since I was going to get three items autographed the next day by Lance, I started selling autographed jerseys BEFORE THEY WERE SIGNED. We processed the credit cards through the LAF system with my word that they would receive the jerseys the next day. My friend Ted Arnold learned of my plan and brought a woman who had a $3,000 check in order to get ten people registered for the big ride the next day. These spots were hard to come by, especially this late in the game. She said I could have the check if I could get her the spots. I countered by saying, if I do my best, and I don't get the spots, could I have the check anyway? She said YES! I was able to secure her six spots.

When slowed at the booth, I got on the phone and called everyone I knew asking for just one more donation. My wife back home started calling her friends. My daughter got caught up in the excitement and made a donation, and even my mother-in-law who we give money to every month made a donation. The familiar feeling of absolute possession from my racing days had returned. I was sprinting for the line in a crit, not able to feel the pain, hear the crowd, or see anything but the finish line. John got so excited he offered to match donations, which made a big difference. I completely and utterly threw myself into this goal with full commitment. On the bus ride to the party I started counting up the donations made online and the checks in my pocket.

That night, when Lance introduced me, everyone in the audience still thought I was behind. Davis Phinney, the winningest cyclist in US History and the first American to win a stage in the Tour de France, sat in the front row. I told the success story about Claire, my original motivation for the $100,000 goal and her recovery. I told how the recent death of my business partner and mentor motivated me to set a bigger goal to be the number one fundraiser in honor of his life. I shared how I tried as hard as I could to raise as much money as possible and that the competition had brought out the best in me. I also reminded everyone that this entire journey started when Davis Phinney challenged me to and my friend Matt Tapie to ride Mount Ventoux back in 1995 and his later assistance to put The Tour Baby! on the map by inviting the racing community in Boulder, Colorado to see the film auctioning off his prized 7-Eleven jerseys.

I summarized the fundraising competition over the last several months by making an analogy to bike racing. With the lead rider up the road, my bridging up and going past him and his race to bridge back, passing me with 1K to go. I also reminded everyone that I was a sprinter. I had gone to Carpenter/Phinney Bike Camp in 1992 to learn from the Master himself. I told the audience that Davis Phinney taught me that sprinters never uncork it until 200 meters to go. And so I took great pleasure announcing that I did just that. I unleashed my sprint at noon that day with 200 meters to go raising $19,000 in five hours exceeding the other guy by $3,000, $164,000 in total, which was the greatest victory in my life. Not because I beat the top fundraiser in the last stretch, but because I truly gave it my all and didn't give up in the face of impossible odds. Coming off the stage, Lance shook my hand, looked me in the eyes for first time and gave me a knowing smile. Davis Phinney rose, and with arms raised in his signature victory salute, greeted me at the stairs leading off the stage, embraced me and escorted me to the front row to sit with him and George Hincapie.

During my speech, I summarized what I learned about fundraising in these five points:
1. Set an outrageous goal - Nothing motivates other like a lofty goal
2. Build a team - Don't try to do it by yourself
3. Ask for help - Tell everyone you can about what you are up to and ask them to donate or help you achieve your goal.
4. Always move forward - Several times along the way I had a screenings where only ten people showed up. It is normal to be disappointed and discouraged after an event doesn't go well. Learn from it and improve on the next go around.
5. Have fun - This is a nice way to say, "work hard and don't stress out" you are doing something good for others. If you get stressed about it, then you will either stop or get sick, and neither will help you raise any money.
If you follow your dreams, anything is possible. When I began my quest to raise $100,000 I had no idea that I would end up on stage with Lance as the Number One Fundraiser, Baby!

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