Friday, November 11, 2011


astonishing, astounding, awesome, awful, eye-opening, fabulous, miraculous, portentous, prodigious, staggering, stunning, stupendous, sublime, surprising, wonderful, wondrousblindsiding, dumbfounding, eye-opening, flabbergasting, jarring, jaw-dropping, jolting, shocking, startling, stunning, stupefying

breathtaking, charged, electric, electrifying, exhilaratinggalvanic, galvanizing, hair-raising, heart-stopping, inspiring, intoxicating, kicky, mind-bending, mind-blowing, mind-boggling, rip-roaring, rousing, stimulating, stirring, thrilling

I bet you can tell how my LIVESTRONG weekend went by just the list of adjectives above and still I don't think they fully describe how I felt at this year's LIVESTRONG Challenge. I have to say I really didn't think last year could have been topped but was I wrong. The only bad part was I had just gotten my braces plus my palate expander and my mouth was so sore. Oh well, I still had an incredible time!

I am still in shock at having raised over $10,000 for LIVESTRONG and qualifying for Ride for the Roses. I know that may not sound like a lot if you are a big time fundraiser. But, I just turned 14 years old and last year I only raised close to a $1,000 so this was BIG for me!! I just can't tell you how PERFECT this weekend was for a boy whose passions are CYCLING and LIVESTRONG. Keep reading and you'll find out why!

First, I need to say "Thank you, thank you, thank you" to everyone who helped me reach my goal!!! I raised $10,112 for LIVESTRONG and I was so excited!! I wanted to give you a glimpse at my AMAZING LIVESTRONG weekend you all helped me be able to experience.

We got to Austin on Thursday night really late and could hardly wait for Friday. Friday started with us going to the Ride for the Roses registration and I got jerseys, posters, jacket, bib numbers and so much more. We met our friends, Brad and Jennifer, I met them on Twitter. It was like we had been friends forever. Next, mom and I checked our bikes in with Fred the head mechanic. Mom needed her fit worked on and he got her all fixed up. Then, he took our bikes to store them where they would be cared for by some top folks. Next, we went down to the LIVESTRONG village at Mellow Johnny’s. Mellow Johnny’s is the bike shop that Lance Armstrong owns! It is such a cool place! It has all kinds of awesome bike stuff and you’ve got to see the 7 Yellow Jerseys hanging on the walls from his Tour de France wins. The village had all kinds of booths to check out. We picked up my dad’s registration stuff and met another friend from Twitter, Mrs. Flanagan. I couldn’t believe it! I even saw my friend, Mr. Hesketh, who checked me in last year and gave me my first LIVESTRONG jersey! It was starting out to be such a great day! I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed! We had to hurry back to the hotel so we could catch the bus for our tour of the LIVESTRONG Headquarters. was full of amazing art, it’s a green building with lots of recycled materials and I loved it! Next, we met Mister Cartoon (Mark Machado) he is a tattoo and graffiti artist and he painted a fantastic mural on the outside wall at headquarters. His work has been used by Nike, Toyota and others. We got to watch him sign his artwork and then he autographed our limited edition posters he designed for the Ride for the Roses participants! Now, it was time to rush back to the hotel and get ready for dinner. The only thing we knew was dinner would be outside and we needed to dress appropriately...really it meant mom shouldn’t wear high heel shoes...LOL!
OCC LIVESTRONG motorcycle-gas tank looks like a TT helmet!

Brad & me in front of Mister Cartoon's mural on the side of LS headquarters
Mister Cartoon & me
We boarded the bus and headed to dinner. I was having a great time with all my new friends and the weekend was just getting started. Chris Brewer, a Sr. Manager for LIVESTRONG, was the host of our bus. He said, “I think I can now tell you that we are headed to LANCE ARMSTRONG’S house for dinner!” I thought my eyes would pop out of my head! I was so shocked! Well, needless to say, it was AWESOME!! I met Chris Horner and Ben King (both are riders on Team Radioshack), my friend Annemieke from the Netherlands, Ryan O’Donoghue my bud at LIVESTRONG plus so many others and OF COURSE...LANCE ARMSTRONG! I just have to say I was shaking all over I was so nervous and excited! Mom took our picture and you can tell I was in shock! This is funny...all I could think to say to him was “you are my hero”! It was the most PERFECT night EVER!!!

Mom, me, Brad & Jennifer in front of Lance Armstrong's

Chris Brewer in LA's LR

LA's backyard

Mrs. Flanagans & me
Chris Horner & me

Ryan O'Donoghue, me & Amy with GOOGLE
Annemieke, Jennifer & mom

 Saturday morning we went on a fun Photo Op ride with Stephanie from Mellow Johnny’s. We saw some really neat areas of Austin, took pictures and learned a little about Austin history. We even saw some protesters! Saturday evening was the Appreciation Dinner and this one my whole family was able to attend. I was really glad to have my mom, dad and Grams with me! This dinner was held outside at LIVESTRONG Headquarters. won’t believe this...Doug Ulman, the CEO of LIVESTRONG, got up to talk. There were about 700 people at this event. Alright, so Mr. Ulman is up on the stage talking about LIVESTRONG and all the programs the money we raised would help fund. Then, he said “there’s one person I really want to recognize tonight...LUKE NEAFUS where are you?” I couldn’t believe it! All of these people were looking at me, he starts talking about my cycling and all my fundraising. He even said I was part of the future of LIVESTRONG! I was shaking all over AGAIN! WOW...I was totally shocked! It was another PERFECT night!
me & dad

family pic

Guess who?

Sunday was the ride and it started with a 4:30 am wake up call! This bus ride was pretty quite! We had breakfast, got our bikes and then got lined up to start the ride. Lance addressed the crowd of over 2300 cyclists. I was ready to get going...I felt charged! It was a very cool morning but as we rode the day became perfect. I rode 45 miles with my friends, Brad, Jennifer, Mike and Stephanie (the lady from Mellow Johnny’s). I challenged everyone to hill sprints all day long! I had so much fun! True joy! This was the longest ride I have ever done but I felt great at the end...I will go further next year for sure! My Grams was waiting at the finish line and it was the PERFECT way to end this journey!


My biggest honor of the whole trip was to ride with the names of many on my back! I rode strong for ALL OF them! I wanted to make them all PROUD! After the ride I posted their names on the LIVESTRONG Tribute Wall! I rode for the following: Poppy, Scott Raffe, Alex Teruki, Mrs. Myers, Janis, Alice, Jeff, Chad Kavanaugh, Andie Ersman, Christopher Parks, Susan Ringer, Ronnie Slawson, Granddad, Charlene Mattingly, Lonnie, Shorty Thurman, David Copeland, Don Cook, Ida Yeager, Grandma Pettit, John M and John Calhoun! I WILL NEVER FORGET the way these Angels, Warriors and Survivors gave me strength!

November is known as MOvember! This is when men start with a clean shaven face and grow a moustache throughout the month to raise awareness and start conversations about men specific cancers. Early detection is key! So, men let’s grow a MO and not be afraid to talk to our dad, our sons, friends and co-workers about prostate and other male cancers. Come on men the test can be as easy as getting some blood drawn and early detection is key! Let’s spread the word!

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season and next year...I think I’m going to try and raise $20,000! I’ve set a goal to HELP STOP CANCER! I hope I can count on you next year!


1 comment:

  1. Luke, you are an inspiration - your blog gave me goosebumps! It's no wonder your parents are so proud! Keep up the good work & good luck!