U.S. cyclist Tejay Van Garden held on to his overall lead during the Livermore to Mt. Diablo stage of the Amgen Tour of California on Saturday and went on to become this year's champion after Sunday's Stage 8 from San Francisco to Santa Rosa.
But before Stage 7 started in Livermore, a different kind of champion was recognized for not only holding on, but for helping many others do the same.
Longtime Livermore resident Dee Williams, who is a 12-year breast cancer survivor, was chosen as an Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Champion and took part in a parade in her honor in downtown Livermore on Saturday.
She rode in a red convertible with her husband Nick Williams, a prostate cancer survivor, and close friend Sister Emmanuel Cardinale, who was the principal at St. Michael's School when Williams' four children and some of her six grandchildren attended there. Parading through downtown Livermore behind the convertible were more than 30 family members and friends that supported her throughout her cancer treatments.
Lindsay Padilla, Dee's granddaughter, said her grandmother's attitude when going through her treatment was amazing.
"She stayed with us and we took care of her," said Padilla. Her younger brother, Teddy, 13, and younger sister, Sammy, 15, carried a Breakaway from Cancer banner during the parade.
"She was really strong," said Padilla. "Right after her treatment all she wanted to do was play with us. She didn't want to sleep."
Her family members said Dee normally likes to be behind the scenes, not in the spotlight. That's why she said at first she was horrified when she found out that her husband secretly nominated her for this recognition.
"I haven't talked so much to so many people since the seventh grade," said Dee, as she spoke to the large crowd at the Amgen. She told the audience about the different volunteer groups people can join that make a huge difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.
Dee volunteers for the American Cancer Society, and is a Call Back volunteer who talks to cancer patients to determine if their needs have been met while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.
"We teach them about programs and connect them to the American Cancer Society," said Dee. "I want to encourage people to volunteer because we could do so much more with more volunteers."
She also helps counsel recently diagnosed cancer patients through Reach to Recovery. On top of all that, she finds time to teach women undergoing chemotherapy or radiation how to pick out makeup and wigs during their treatment, and volunteers for Relay For Life, all while battling a neurological disorder and arthritis.
"We were so proud of her today," said Padilla. "She doesn't get a lot of recognition, she likes to be behind the scenes. She's always the one cheering us (grandkids) on, so it's fun to cheer her on now."
"I was incredibly proud of her," said Laurie Williams, another of Dee's granddaughters.
Dee was one of five sisters, four of whom got breast cancer. Two didn't make it.
"That's who I am here for," said Dee.
Fellow Livermore residents Dana and Matt Croghan, who run a nonprofit called Team KC that helps pediatric cancer patients and their families, were also at the event, They fired the starting gun to begin Stage 7.
After losing their daughter Korrine to cancer, the Croghans began their nonprofit in order to fulfill their daughter's dying wish to help others who have to go through what she did. Every year the Croghan's raise money for Team KC through a swim-a-thon. Planning for this year's October event is underway and I will keep readers posted when the date approaches.
"We want to thank Amgen for recognizing Team KC," said Dana Croghan. "It lets us get the word out."
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.