Lawson Craddock’s “Fight for Paris” finally comes home on Aug. 24. The Houston native will be at the Alkek Velodrome for a special night of Friday Night Racing that includes a raffle to benefit the Lawson Craddock Youth Cycling League and a ceremony to present the velodrome with the funds he raised while racing the Tour de France with EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale.
“It’s going to be an awesome night,” Craddock said. “I’m really proud to be partnered with great companies like EF, Cannondale and Drapac, and all our other incredible sponsors, who have pitched in and helped set-up what is going to be a really fun event. We’ll be able to watch some bike racing, drink some Karbach beer and grab dinner from food trucks. What more can you want from a Friday night?”
The night is a culmination of Craddock’s decision to search for outside motivation and an opportunity to give back after he was involved in a crash midway through the opening stage of the Tour. He was diagnosed with a scapula fracture and required stitches to a laceration over his left eye. He knew he’d need something special to get through the next 20 stages with his injury. He committed to donating $100 for every stage he finished to the Alkek Velodrome in Houston where his cycling career began. The Velodrome was damaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
When Craddock announced his intention on Twitter, others hopped on the wagon. To date, he has collected a still-growing total of over $265,000 via the GoFundMe.
“When I started the fundraiser, the idea was to help get the Velodrome back on track and back to its best possible shape,” said Craddock. “In my mind, that would help the cycling community grow. Houston is a busy city, and with that, there’s a lot of traffic. The Velodrome provides a safe and fun place to ride a bike.”
“When we first heard what Lawson was doing, our initial reaction was — ‘wow!’” said Alkek Velodrome race director Doug Evans. “Here’s a guy riding in the Tour de France. He’s just had a horrendous crash on the first day and what he does next is an incredibly selfless thing to help our organization. We were and still are blown away by Lawson’s generosity, support, and contribution. We’ll always be grateful for his kindness and selflessness. He did more in 21 days than we could do in 21 years.”
For Craddock, it was extra motivation to push through the toughest race of the season.
“I can honestly say I would not have made it through the Tour without the support everyone showed through their donations,” said Craddock, who ultimately arrived in Paris as the first American Lanterne Rouge, the final finisher of the 2018 Tour de France. “Every single day of the Tour, I woke up and looked at the GoFundMe. I started the stage, and oI looked at the GoFundMe. I ended the stage and looked at the GoFundMe. It was truly inspiring to see the donations roll in every day.
“I remember one of the most difficult stages of the Tour for me, I was dangling off the back during a mountain stage in the third week, and I started to wonder if this was it, if this was my last day. Then someone on the side of the road shouted: ‘Do it for Houston.’ and it flipped a switch in my brain,” recalled Craddock. “I wasn’t out there suffering for myself. This wasn’t about me. It was about doing something for others. The support on the road, on social media, through the GoFundMe, it was absolutely motivating.”
Craddock’s total is bolstered by donations from EF Education First and Cannondale. EF Education First is a partner for Friday night’s event. The world leaders in international education, EF Education First have also committed to donating $6,000 to the Alkek Velodrome.
“At EF Education First, the notion that ‘nothing is impossible’ is among our most important core values; and it’s an attitude that Lawson exhibited in spades during this year’s Tour de France,” said Shane Steffens, president of EF Pro Cycling. “In recognition of this amazing accomplishment, and on behalf of EF, Drapac, Cannondale and all the team’s partners, we are excited to match Lawson’s top GoFundMe donation and provide support to this wonderful gathering of the Houston-area cycling community. We think it is really fun to rally around this meaningful cause, and we are incredibly proud to have Lawson on the team.”
Cannondale auctioned off the SuperSix Evo Craddock rode during the 2018 Tour de France to raise funds for the velodrome as well. When the auction came to a close on Aug. 13 — a nod to Craddock’s bib number during the Tour — an $11,500 bid secured Craddock’s ride.
“This Tour de France showed the character of EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale, and Lawson embodied a strength that stirred even the most casual fan of cycling,” said Jonathan Geran, Cannondale’s global director of sports marketing. “Lawson’s story to ‘Fight for Paris’ transcended cycling, and we are proud to see how he transformed what could have been the end of his race into an opportunity to raise money for the Alkek Velodrome, where his cycling career began. Lawson has inspired a new generation of cyclists and fans while showing the world the true grit of professional riders. Cannondale is proud to support and contribute in a small way.”
With the donations from EF Education First and Cannondale, along with the GoFundMe contributions, Craddock will present Alkek Velodrome with a check for $280,000… and counting.
“The donations have given the track a new lease on life,” said Carl Jones, director of rider development at Alkek Velodrome. “We can make some improvements that will increase the quality of the riding experience. The funds will allow us to expand youth and adult development programs beyond the summer and into the entire year.
“Expanding rider development is the lifeline of the track,” Jones noted. “It secures the track’s future and ensures our vitality. Lawson’s donations also provide the opportunity to expand outside of the track with more community outreach programs.”
Lawson Craddock’s Fight for Paris
Gates open at 5PM
Racing begins at 7PM
Additional details here.
Make a donation Craddock’s Alkek Velodrome fundraiser here.