Rubber bracelet phenomenon

By Abigail Keefe
November 18, 2005

From Hurricane Katrina to cancer research, there is a little rubber bracelet for everything these days. They can be seen on the wrists of both children and adults for all different reasons. Some are meant for fun and others support serious causes. Whether or not you have a few of your own, it is clear that this trend has swept the nation.

The origin of the bracelets lies with cycling superstar Lance Armstrong. The athlete created the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997 to support cancer survivors and cancer research. In 2004, the foundation launched its Livestrong campaign with sneaker giant Nike, and they produced about 5 million bracelets originally. After a year, approximately 50 million bracelets have been sold.

“When I heard that Nike was making 5 million of them, I was a little skeptical. I figured we’d be shooting them at each other for years.” Armstrong said, according to USA Today.

The distinctive bright yellow rubber bracelets sport the word “Livestrong” and sell for about a dollar a piece. Demand for the bracelets skyrocketed shortly after their release, and many patrons were scouring stores and hospitals looking to buy them.

Recently, other causes have caught on to the bracelet rage. Catholic Relief Services sold them to support victims of the tsunami. Some aid foundations have been using them to help raise money for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Other bracelets contain patriotic sayings or proudly proclaim support for the troops in Iraq.

The bracelets have also branched out into less worthy causes as well. Some simply come in fun colors with greeting-card type sayings about friendship or love on them. Others come in a variety of neon colors designed to be worn more as a trendy fashion statement than as a sign of any deeper meaning. There are even some that support sports teams, display favorite personality traits or Chinese symbols with different meanings.

Whether it is supporting a cause or purely for fun, these easily and cheaply produced rubber bracelets have shown that a trend does not have to be about expensive clothing or a fancy designer. However, it is clear that at least some of the appeal of these bracelets lies in the fact that the wearer often feels some connection to the idea the bracelet displays. “I wear the bracelet because I really do support Lance Armstrong and what he is doing,” said Read De Sabato, a senior English and communication major. De Sabato also sported a bracelet supporting the Philadlephia Eagles, his favorite football team. Perhaps it is this ability to personalize the bracelets that has drawn so many to these simple pieces of rubber jewelry.

Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to: The editors will review your points each week and make corrections if warranted.

Posted to the web by Matt Schill

Abigail Keefe

Abigail Keefe is a Cabrini College student studying communications, enjoying her time in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Abbie loves working for the school newspaper, the Loquitur, and is also passionate about everything that the communication field has to offer.

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