Cayman Little League coach Kevin
Hartmann, who passed away recently, had a poignant presence in the Tour de
France this week. As part of the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s cancer awareness
work, members of Lance Armstrong’s RadioShack cycling team are participating in
the Tour de France with the names of cancer survivors, people battling cancer,
or who have lost their battle against the disease, on their bikes. As part of
the Unity campaign, Hartmann’s name was selected from thousands of submissions
and appeared on RadioShack cyclist Dmitriy Muravyev’s bicycle during the second
week of the Tour. The sticker read “I ride for Kevin Hartmann” and appeared on
the top tube of the bike.
Muravyev, from Kazakhstan, is one
of Armstrong’s key helpers in the Tour de France. He was also by Armstrong’s
side in 2009 when the Texan made it onto the third step of the podium while
teammate Alberto Contador claimed the win. According to Hartmann’s sister Kim
Piskorowski, the Livestrong message meant a lot to the family during his battle
“During Kevin’s battle with cancer
we had turned to Lance Armstrong’s story on survival for information and
assistance,” she said.
“In the course of working with [the
Lance Armstrong Foundation’s] website there had been so many inspiring stories
and one of them was the chance to participate in ‘virtual ride’. It involved
nominating Kevin with the story of why I wanted to ride for him. Once we
started the virtual ride, then everyone needed to go on to the website to
‘vote/cheer’ us on,” recalled Piskorowski.
Their support started with
immediate family, then friends, then friends of friends, until it spread to
people throughout Cayman and eventually throughout the United States.
“Our ‘cheers’ started adding up and
so did our ranking. Before long we were able to watch with Kevin as our ranking
was in the top 100. This brought a smile to his face and his thumbs up
sign-which meant so much from him,” said Piskorowski.
The virtual race developed into a
rallying call for the family as they kept pushing to get Hartmann’s name higher
up the list. The top three names would appear on Armstrong’s bike during the
three weeks of the Tour de France.
“As a family we all rallied around
him with this race. He wore the Armstrong
T-shirt, which read ‘Livestrong’. We all started wearing the yellow Livestrong
bracelets, which signified to us the attitude that united we were fighting this
disease,” recalled Piskorowski.
Although Hartmann did not make it
into the top three, the family learned that his name had been selected to
appear on one of Armstrong’s team mates’ bikes only days before Hartmann passed
“It’s a great feeling, it’s like
Kevin keeps going. I think there are so many of us having such a hard time
handling him being gone. This is like one more celebration of his life – a life
taken entirely too soon,” said Piskorowski.
“Even though Kev didn’t beat this
monster, someday maybe there will be a cure. No one who was loved, cherished,
or admired as much as my brother should have to lose this battle.”