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Armstrong

Florida Forum drops Armstrong, Replacement speaker expected

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

The Florida Forum has dropped Lance Armstrong from its speaker series this season.

The womensboardwch.com site no longer includes the cyclist, who has been banned from racing, on its schedule.

The International Cycling Union announced Oct. 22 it officially would strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France wins and ban him from the sport for life.

News reports said the announcement was based on a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accused Armstrong of leading a massive doping program on his teams. He won the Tour de France titles from 1999-2005.

The Florida Forum is part of the Women's Board of Wolfson Children's Hospital and its lecture series is one of two major fundraisers each year.

The Florida Times-Union and Jacksonville.com report today the Women's Board has agreed to cancel Armstrong's appearance as a speaker for its 2012-13 series, which raises money and awareness for the hospital.

Sara Phipps, the board's director of marketing, told the Times-Union the decision to cancel the March 4 appearance was mutual and a replacement will be chosen in the next few weeks.

The 2012-13 forum lineup began Oct. 2 with Walter Isaacson, the biographer of the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. It continues Feb. 2 with former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

The board's other major fundraiser is the annual Art & Antiques Show, scheduled Nov. 29-Dec. 2 at the Osborn Center.

Established in 1973 by civic leader Ellen Cavert, the volunteer board is designed to raise community awareness and to fund resources for Wolfson Children's Hospital. Since its start, the board has raised more than $23 million for the hospital.

The 2012-13 Florida Forum will contribute funds for programs and clinical equipment needs in addition to a five-year, $4 million pledge to the Larry J. Freeman Behavioral Health Center, which provides counseling and support for children facing surgery and illness in some cases terminal.

The center also addresses the full spectrum of psychiatric illness, as well as childhood obesity, eating disorders and depression, among others.

Counting the coming year's lineup, the forum has brought about 70 speakers to town since 1992-93.

The list includes former Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; former first lady Barbara Bush; former Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Dan Quayle; former U.S. Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and James A. Baker III; and Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

Journalists have included Bob Woodward, Anderson Cooper, Ted Koppel, Tim Russert, Katie Couric, Tom Brokaw, Cokie Roberts and Barbara Walters.

The forum has featured other elected officials, authors, actors, military leaders, sports legends, business leaders and comedians, including Jay Leno and Bill Cosby.

For information about the forum, visit www.thefloridaforum.com or call (904) 202-2886.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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