Armstrong donates bike to young fire victim | NevadaAppeal.com
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Armstrong donates bike to young fire victim

Susan Wood
Nevada Appeal News Service
Jonah M. Kessel/Appeal News Service Lance Armstrong, right, helps Garrett Singer, whose bike was burned during the Angora fire, try out his new donated bike.
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STATELINE – Seven-time Tour de France winner, cycling great and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong turned a South Shore teen’s nightmare into a dream come true Thursday with a stroke of a pen at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

Garrett Singer — a budding road-bike rider – was preparing to do at least two passes of the Death Ride slated for today. But on June 24, the 13-year-old’s plans changed when the raging Angora fire swept through his North Upper Truckee neighborhood – consuming 3,100 acres, the family’s Pyramid Circle home and the his bike. The fire was so hot it melted the chain and gears of his old K2 bike together.

The boy’s life changed Thursday when Armstrong, before teeing off for the American Century Championship, signed a new Trek bike at a press conference announcing expanded fire relief donations from the golf tournament, which ends Sunday. The bike was donated by Keith Hart of Big Daddy’s in Gardnerville.

“Anybody have an Allen wrench?” the teen asked, ready to hop on his new bike.

His parents, Harold and Pam Singer, knew what the gesture meant to their grieving son. Armstrong was the subject of the boy’s fifth-grade project, which resulted in a mosaic of his hero. The mosaic was burned in the fire.

“This has been the first smile and real joy I’ve seen from him since the fire,” Garrett’s mother said. “He may not ride it. He might just keep it in his room.”

A teary-eyed Singer looked at the Armstrong-autographed yellow cap she was holding.

“I just bought this for him before I knew about all this,” she said.

Further, Singer commended family friend, local architect Alan Tolhurst, for arranging the philanthropic event. Tolhurst had sent an e-mail to NBC to inform management of the family’s hardship.

Armstrong knows hardship as well. He equated the grieving and loss at the hands of fire to getting a cancer diagnosis like he did years ago – the inspiration for his best-selling book, “It’s Not About the Bike.” In the book, Armstrong talks through the peaks and valleys of his life as a cancer survivor.

“Everything is fine, and then a bomb comes along, and rocks your world,” he told the media in the conference. Armstrong declared his allegiance to giving to charity and donating to local causes.

Last year, American Century introduced an investment portfolio to help fund Armstrong’s cancer cause, and plans to do the same this year. The charity will split the golfing proceeds with the fire relief fund.

Philanthropic efforts have extended their reach at the golf tournament this year – including a planned telethon of sorts with a special report from NBC on the devastation.

“Our first reaction was: ‘How can we help?'” NBC Director of Development Gary Quinn told the media. He admitted the broadcasting company struggled with the sensitivity of the disaster and expressed doubts about even holding the tournament. But business officials “were adamant we have to show the world” the fire didn’t burn the whole town, and those affected are in recovery.

Tailoring charitable efforts with Armstrong as athlete and dedicated cancer survivor proved to be a given for the title sponsor, broadcaster, organizers and golf course – which experienced a fan fest when Armstrong made his first appearance last year.

• Contact reporter Susan Wood at swood@tahoedailytribune.com.