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Stock Markets Honor Reagan; Children of War Getting new Lease on Life; Tour of Hope; Nation Honors Ronald Reagan; Friends Remember Ray Charles

Aired June 11, 2004 - 15:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Bells ring out, world leaders pay tribute, and the nation bids a final farewell to President Ronald Reagan.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Thelma Gutierrez at the Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California, where the presidential aircraft carrying the former president's remains will land here in about four to five hours.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Another original American passes, Ray Charles. This hour, two men who knew him share their stories about this musical genius.

O'BRIEN: And champion athlete Lance Armstrong is leading a tour of hope. A fellow cancer survivor talks about his upcoming ride across the country, no less, with the cycling legend.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Miles O'Brien.

PHILLIPS: And I'm Kyra Phillips.

CNN's LIVE FROM starts right now.

We begin with the penultimate ceremony in a week filled with them honoring the life and times of Ronald Reagan. High on a hill overlooking Washington at the soaring National Cathedral, friends, family, fans and even old political foes gathered to celebrate what, by any account, was a life full of purpose and accomplishment.

And now, as we speak, Ronald Reagan's remains are headed west to his beloved California and another hilltop overlooking the sea, where he will rest.

We begin our coast-to-coast coverage with Sean Callebs, joining us from Washington -- Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Miles, a historic state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral, a solemn ceremony marking the long goodbye to Ronald Reagan.

Before the casket left the Capitol Rotunda, Nancy Reagan had one last chance for a silent goodbye, gently caressing the flag-draped coffin, offering a kiss. It appeared she had a chance to share final words with her husband of 52 years. President Reagan bid a farewell to the American people a decade ago, disclosing he had Alzheimer's disease.

Since then, he lived in seclusion with his wife. Reagan will certainly be remembered as one of the most significant presidents in the 20th century, his popularity clear by the tens of thousands who paid a solemn tribute while the former president lain in state in the Capitol Rotunda.


CALLEBS (voice-over): A military band played the traditional march song, marking the entrance and departure of U.S. presidents. A light rain fell in the nation's capital as the casket was removed to make its way to the state funeral.

Along the way, crowds lined the procession site, 2,100 people, by invitation only, feeling the National Cathedral. Former British Prime Minister, President Reagan's closest Cold War friend, Margaret Thatcher taped her eulogy in February. Doctors asked her to end public speaking after a series of small strokes, but Thatcher insisted on attending.

MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: In his lifetime, Ronald Reagan was such a gentle and invigorating presence that it was easy to forget what daunting historic tasks he set himself him. He sought to mend America's wounded spirit, to restore the strength of a free world, and to restore the slaves of communism.

CALLEBS: Many of the eulogies offered condolences and words of praise to Nancy Reagan. The list of dignitaries filling the cathedral is long, including 25 current state heads of state or government, 14 foreign ministers, and 11 former heads of state, all four living ex- U.S. presidents, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and the elder George Bush, who briefly choked up delivering remarks.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As his vice president for eight years, I learned more from Ronald Reagan than from anyone I encountered in all my years of public life.

CALLEBS: Shortly thereafter, George W. Bush delivering a 15- minute eulogy.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In his last years, he saw through a glass darkly. Now he sees his savior face to face. And we look to that fine day when we will see him again, all weariness gone, clear of mind, strong and sure and smiling again and the sorrow of this parting gone forever.


CALLEBS: Miles, for the family, certainly a touching, emotional ceremony. This long goodbye had been orchestrated for some time.

O'BRIEN: CNN's Sean Callebs, thanks very much -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, the plane carrying President Reagan's body is scheduled to land in about four hours at Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California.

That's where we find CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.

I imagine a lot of people preparing, Thelma.

GUTIERREZ: Yes, you bet, Kyra.

And I can tell you that media is out here, as well as some of the local dignitaries, who are waiting to greet the procession. Now, that arrival ceremony, Kyra, will be very brief. As you had mentioned, the aircraft will arrive about 4:45 Pacific time. From there, the president's remains will be removed from the aircraft at that time.

The Marine band will begin to play "God Bless America." Then the remains, the coffin, will be placed in a hearse and it will begin its final journey to its resting place at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley.

And, Kyra, we talked to some of the people here at Point Mugu. They're very nostalgic about this ceremony. They say this is the place where the president landed and took off from many, many times during his presidency. It is the closest military airfield to Santa Barbara, which is of course where President Reagan had his ranch.

Now, there will be local dignitaries here. They have started to arrive already. They will greet the procession. Among them are eight sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan. Now, Mrs. Reagan had christened the ship a while back. She is said to have a great affinity for the ship and for those on board.

And the flag that was flying aboard the carrier the day the president died will be presented to the former first lady, along with the flag that is draping the casket. Nancy Reagan requested that the commanding officer of that ship present the flag to her at the burial service.


CAPT. JIM SYMONDS, COMMANDING OFFICER, USS REAGAN: This is a very time-honored, traditional service. And, right at the end, the pallbearers will lift the flag that has been draping the coffin, and they will fold it in the traditional tri-cornered way. They will pass it to head of the ceremonial guard, who will pass it to me. And I will in turn kneel and give it to Mrs. Reagan.


GUTIERREZ: The captain says that the former president was one of his heroes and he said that that moment when he actually hands over the flag is sure to emotional for him -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: No doubt. It's a tremendous honor. Thelma Gutierrez, thank so much.

And the past few days have been a time of very public mourning for President Reagan. Soon, his loved ones will bid farewell in private at a sunset burial. It will take place at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

That's where CNN's Frank Buckley is right now.

Hi, Frank.


This is where more than 100,000 people earlier this week passed by the casket of President Reagan. And, as you say, tonight, this will be a time for about 700 people who knew Ronald Reagan, for them to say their goodbyes.

Like everything else this week, the things that take place here will be carefully choreographed down to the minute. There will be remembrances from his children. There will be music. We will hear "Hail to the Chief." A solo bagpiper will play "Amazing Grace" when the casket is carried to the grave site. We will hear "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and of course "Taps."

Military traditions will be observed. There will be a 21-gun salute, three volleys of musketry. There will be a flyover of FA-18s by the U.S. Navy. Finally, the people who loved and knew Ronald Reagan will be here to say their goodbyes. They will be people from his political life, from his personal life, from his Hollywood years, everyone from Bo Derek and Kirk Douglas to Margaret Thatcher and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As we say, some 700 people will be here to file past his grave site at the conclusion of the interment service. They will go by the site where the casket will be buried later. There, at this monument, there is a quote from President Reagan from the 1991 dedication of the library in which Ronald Reagan says, "I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always triumph, and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life."

We're expecting a very emotional ceremony here after the motorcade travels here from Point Mugu, the motorcade route published, so that we also expect to see thousands of people paying their last respects along the motorcade route -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Frank Buckley, live from Simi Valley, thanks.

O'BRIEN: Those who served in the Reagan administration, almost to a person, offer glowing praise of their former boss. They speak most often of his genial nature, his strong convictions, and his unwavering optimism. The current secretary of state, Colin Powell, served for a time as Mr. Reagan's national security adviser.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I saw him every morning for two years, and whenever you walked into the Oval Office, no matter what else might be going on in the world, there was the leader of the free world sitting in his chair in the Oval Office with that smile on his face, that brim of confidence and optimism of whatever problem you have, we can solve it. Because he had such firm beliefs, a belief in his country, a belief in our system, and a belief that our system was something that could be transferred to the rest of the world.

He was such a believer in democracy and freedom and the dignity of men and women, and human rights.


O'BRIEN: Howitzers launched 21-gun fusillade. Church bells rang, as the nation paused to remember the 48th president today.

Here's a look and listen.


O'BRIEN: We can't stop loving you, Ray Charles, even though today, you are gone. The man who overcame so much in his own life touched ours in so many ways. He was a virtuoso of variety, deftly blending disparate strains of American music, belting it out with that wonderful rough voice, and sealing it all with that infectious grin. Yesterday, liver disease took him at the age of 73.

CNN's Fredricka Whitfield has Ray Charles on her mind.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ray Charles' life was a rags to riches story, told with lyrics and melodies liberally laced with soul.

Born Ray Charles Robinson on September 23, 1930 to Aretha and Bailey Robinson in rural Albany, Georgia. The family was desperately poor. By the time he was 7 years old, glaucoma was robbed Charles of his sight. But before he went blind he saw his little brother drown.

Charles credits his mother with helping him overcome blindness and become independent.

RAY CHARLES, AMERICAN MUSIC LEGEND: She was watching me go blind. You know, she knew I was going to lose my sight. But her thing was you still got that brain. You still can think. And there are two ways to do everything. You just got to figure out which one is good for you. That was the influence my mom had on me.

WHITFIELD: After his mother died, he left Florida State School for the Blind, where he learned to read braille, play piano and memorize music. Learned so well he could compose and arranged melodies in his head. Charles hit the road as a struggling musician.

It was about this time, though, that he picked up a drug habit, a habit he didn't kick until convicted of heroin and marijuana possession 20 years later.

Charles's path to greatness would lead him far from the South to Seattle, Washington. His first real taste of fame would come with the 1955 release of "I've Got a Woman." It was the beginning course of Charles' indelible mark on the face of popular music. In 1960, Charles won his first Grammy for "Georgia on My Mind." His rendition of the song would later become the state song of Georgia.

The music of Ray Charles defined modern soul, brought jazz and R&B to the mainstream, helped country music gain worldwide acceptance.

And along the way, many credited Charles with being instrumental in the invention of rock 'n' roll.

CHARLES: You can bend. I mean you can change. As long as you stay within the context of the song itself so you don't lose the public. You can always do it 50,000 different ways, too.

WHITFIELD: His icon status caught the eye of Pepsi. In Charles the soft drink giant found one of their most memorable pitch men.

In 1986, Charles became one of the original inductees into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

His rendition of "America the Beautiful" would set the 1984 Republican Convention on fire.

"A Song for You" brought Charles his 12th Grammy in 1994.

The popular entertainer also knew the value of giving back. He lent his considerable talents to the song "We Are the World," raising millions to feed the people starving in Africa.

His life was a lesson in triumph overcoming tragedy. And his audience, the whole world.

CHARLES: For me, my music is my existence. It's just like your breathing. Without your breathing, you're no longer here. Without my music, I feel I'm no longer here.

WHITFIELD: Fredricka Whitfield, CNN, reporting.


PHILLIPS: Well, Ray Charles is still here in his music and in the memories of two men who knew him quite well.

Here in Atlanta, Joe Walker, a friend and former classmate of Ray Charles, and, in New York, Michael Lydon, the highly respected rock journalist and author of the book "Ray Charles: Man and Music."

What a pleasure to have you both here.

Joe, I'm going to start with you.


PHILLIPS: Because you go back a long time with Ray. You guys were roommates. You went to school together. I'm curious. What was it like to live with him? Did you get into trouble? WALKER: Oh, we had a lot of fun, No. 1.

The funny thing about Ray that I remember the most is that, whenever Ray woke up in the morning, Ray was the kind of a guy that wasn't easy to get along with. Every morning, he would wake up. He's not an easy guy to get along with. As you go along during the day, though, he gets all right.

PHILLIPS: Now, why wasn't he easy to get along with? What, was he grumpy? Did he not make his bed? Did he punch on you?

WALKER: No. He punched on me, now, but not during the early morning hours. He always punched on me after breakfast, lunch and dinner. That was his time to punch on me.

PHILLIPS: And why did you guys fight all the time? You were telling me you two fought all the time.

WALKER: We fought as kids growing up, because Ray was a bully.


WALKER: Yes, he was a bully.


WALKER: And I was his target.

My mother told me when I went to school, don't fight. She didn't know I was going to meet Ray Charles.


WALKER: So Ray Charles and I had a fight after each meal.

And one of the things we'd fight over, I couldn't win. He would say, hey, Joseph, you through eating? I'll say, no. Don't you know these people got to clean this place up? You wait until I get out of here. I'm going to punch your lights out. And he'd do it.

So, the next time around, he said, Joseph, you through eating? Yes. Why do you eat so darn fast? I'm going to punch your lights out.


WALKER: No matter what happened, I was the guy that was going to get punched out.

PHILLIPS: And did you ever play music together?

WALKER: No, I never was a musician. I listened. He played.

PHILLIPS: And what did you think?

WALKER: I liked him. I like music. My first ambition was to be disc jockey. So I loved music.

PHILLIPS: Did you tell him if he was good or bad?

WALKER: I didn't have to tell him. He told me.


PHILLIPS: And I can hear Michael Lydon laughing right now.


PHILLIPS: Michael, it's so neat to hear Joe tell these stories, these personal stories.

WALKER: Michael and I know each other.

PHILLIPS: You guys go -- that's right.

Michael, you guys go way back. I know Joe is even mentioned in your book.

Talk to us about just how Ray was as a young kid. He was highly influenced by his mother. I don't think his mother told him to beat up on Joe, but she had a good influence on him.

MICHAEL LYDON, AUTHOR, "RAY CHARLES: MAN AND MUSIC": Well, I want you Joe tell the story about Joe's imitation make-believe radio show that he would do late at night, a pretend announcer saying, now, this is Joe Williams from CBS Radio. And we got Ray Charles at the Overlook Club, Ray Charles and his orchestra. And Ray would say, that's right. That's going to happen. That's right.


WALKER: What Michael is talking...


WALKER: ... is, as kids growing up, we had different kids that wanted to be different things. And we'd sit down.

And one of the things I told Ray was, I said, Ray, I'm going to be the announcer when you play at all these various clubs. And during those days, the networks would have music from different clubs at night. And I said, I'm going to be the guy that introduced you. For instance, there was a place in New York -- New Jersey called Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook.

And a lot of the entertainers went there. And it was so funny. I always said, I'm going to say, CBS Radio presents the music of Ray Charles and his orchestra, direct from Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook.


WALKER: And I always envisioned myself doing that. He said, you really going to do it, man? I said, you are darned right I'm going to do it. And that's the one Michael was talking about.


PHILLIPS: And, Michael, it sounds like Joe, who is now a broadcaster -- Joe, you knew what you wanted to do. Ray knew what he wanted to do.

As you got to know Ray Charles, Michael, and write this book, how did you think Ray discovered himself? His mother always said, look, you're blind, but I'm not going to treat you any differently. And I'm going to put you in the mix with all the other boys. Did it start there and then he explored in the music world? How did it happen?

LYDON: Well, I think the foundation of his character comes from his wonderful mother, 'Retha Williams Robinson.

But I think the second great influence was Wiley Pittman (ph), who owned a little cafe in the town where he lived, Greenville, Florida. And Pittman was a fine stride piano player of the Fats Waller-type mode. And he let Ray play. And Ray always said, Mr. Pittman never turned me away. If I came into the cafe, he'd put me on his lap and he'd show me how to play the keys. And that started him as a pianist. He never forget that.

And the second thing was, when he was about 12, after studying music at the blind school, he realized his great ambition: I want to be a great musician. And he often said, fame, money, they would come along with it, maybe. But true greatness as an artist was what he cared about. And he lived that to the very, very end.

PHILLIPS: Joe, when you guys were together, especially as roommates, we're hearing how Ray's music developed there at the school for the blind. Were the teachers supportive of his music? Were they supportive of even your broadcasting goals?

WALKER: I had -- we had teachers that were supportive and we had some teachers who weren't.


WALKER: But, for the most part, we had one teacher, Mr. Knowles (ph), who was supportive of me as a broadcaster and Ray as a musician. And he would encourage us what to do. You have got to work at what you're doing, fellows, and you've got to be good at what you're doing. He always encouraged us.

PHILLIPS: God bless Mr. Knowles.

Michael, final thoughts, just as we hear these personal stories. Ray Charles really influenced a lot of people. Talk about crossing so many racial lines, so many forms of music.

LYDON: Ray influenced everybody. And he wove a tapestry of music from every strand of American and international popular music. He sang songs in French. He sang blues songs, country songs, everything. And he made them all his own in a unique way that will last and last as long as people listen to music.

PHILLIPS: What a pleasure, Michael Lydon, Joe Walker.

Joe, will you hang around for a little while and talk to us some more?

WALKER: Sure, I'll talk to you. I'll be happy to talk to you.


PHILLIPS: Will you sing? You and Ray kind of look alike. Did you ever hear that before?

WALKER: No. No. Don't do that. Don't do that. No, uh-uh. I talk. He sings.


PHILLIPS: All right, that's a deal. We'll talk some more.

Michael, thanks for your time today.

LYDON: Thank you.


PHILLIPS: All right.

Thanks, Joe.

WALKER: Thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: All right.

Well, Ray Charles died at his home in Beverly Hills. As you know, he was 73 years old. His funeral is next week in Los Angeles.



BISHOP JOHN BRYSON CHANE, DEAN, WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL: We receive the body of our brother Ronald for burial. Let us pray with confidence to God, the giver of life, that he will raise him to perfection in the company of the saints.


PHILLIPS: Well, as the nation pauses to remember an American President, so does the financial epicenter of the world. The New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq Stock Market and the American Stock Exchange are closed today. The NYSE called the former President "a great champion of free people and free markets."

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Mention the word "Reaganomics," and even on this week of remembrance you would be apt to start a debate over its merits. As a candidate for President in the primaries against Mr. Reagan, George H. W. Bush famously called it "voodoo economics." Whatever you may call it, it changed the way the government does business and left a lasting impact on Wall Street, where we find CNN's Mary Snow.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Reagan received a hero's welcome when he became the first sitting U.S. President to visit the New York Stock Exchange in 1985.

RONALD WILSON REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... we're going to turn the bull loose.


ART CASHIN, UBS PAINE WEBBER: No one who was here that day will easily forget it.

SNOW: President Reagan left an upstairs boardroom meeting to make a surprise trip to the trading floor.

CASHIN: Reagan had decided to come down and return, and mingle. And he was shaking hands with the clerks and the brokers, and the pages from the exchange. And the place was electrified.

SNOW: And some might also say he electrified the market. Stocks had been way down by a malaise in the 1970s with an oil crisis and sky-high interest rates of about 20 percent.

NED RILEY, STAGE STREET GLOBAL ADVISORS: We were coming off a decade that had extremely high inflation, extremely high interest rates, and clearly very low productivity. So we needed relief in the markets. This was the man that clearly set and established what I considered to be the great basin foundation for growth.

SNOW: Reagan's policies of dramatic tax cuts and reining in inflation with the help of the Federal Reserve were applauded on Wall Street. During his eight-year presidency, annual gains on the S&P 500 averaged 14 percent. Corporate profits soared 60 percent. And Gross Domestic Product grew 30 percent.

But it wasn't all with out problems. The crash of October 1987 also came during Reagan's tenure, when the market had its biggest one- day percentage drop.

JOSEPH MCALINDEN, MORGAN STANLEY: Observers at the time, many of them were arguing that the crash in '87 was like the crash in 1929. But the way it was managed by the federal government and by the central bank got us through that period of terrible uncertainty, almost without missing a beat.

SNOW: Even with the crash, the S&P 500 climbed 128 percent during Reagan's presidency. While impressive, it still falls behind the 211 percent on the S&P during the Clint presidency. Traders credit Reagan and his policies with giving birth to the bull market that ran through 2000, with the end of the Cold War playing a big part.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The peace dividend from that was a big factor in the lower interest rate, improving budget deficit environment, and rising stock prices of the 1990s. You know, the policies that presidents follow very often don't bear fruit until the next guy's administration, or maybe even the one after that.

SNOW: It might not be surprising that stocks rallied Monday, the first trading day after Reagan's death, with traders considering it one more for the Gipper.


SNOW: And many here on Wall Street credit actions taken by President Reagan with having a lasting and positive impact on the market, and that includes the appointment of Allan Greenspan as Federal Reserve chairman in 1987 -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Talk about a lasting impact. OK, Mary Snow. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

More on Ronald Reagan in a special town hall edition of "CROSSFIRE" top of the hour, coming up.

And just ahead, demonstration force cancellations of Friday prayers in one of Iraq's holiest cities. We'll explain why.

And an Iraqi boy injured in the war finds hope thanks to the compassion of one woman.


O'BRIEN: Yet another violent Friday in Iraq. There was gunfire and even fistfights as fighting flared around Najaf's most sacred shrine. Punches started flying when fighteres loyal to the radical Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, tried to block the protesters that you see here. They were marching in support of a peace deal aimed at ending the violence. Now, witnesses say the shrine was evacuated and its doors shuttered.

In Baghdad, in the Sadr City neighborhood, heavy clashes erupted between al-Sadr militiamen and coalition troops. Fourteen Iraqis injured, some of them, as you can see here, are children.

And on the south side of Baghdad, a car bomb blew up on a highway as a U.S. convoy passed nearby. Three American soldiers wounded. The military says the bomb was probably activated by remote control.

PHILLIPS: In Iraq, and other conflicts around the world, the biggest victims of war are often the smallest. Thanks to one woman, some children of war are getting a new lease on life. Here's CNN's Maria Hinojosa.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN URBAN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Yorker Elissa Montati looking anxious on the Kuwait-Iraq border. She's been waiting for hours. Her delivery? Fourteen-year-old Ali Amir (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But this is a happy day.

HINOJOSA: Her goal? To get Ali (ph) all the way from Iraq to here...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make a muscle. Not bad.

HINOJOSA: ... the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia, so he can be fitted for a new hand.


HINOJOSA: Ali (ph) lost his limb last year when he picked up an unexploded mine near his home in Basra. Elissa Montati had never been to Iraq, but knew there were children there who could use her help. So she went there on her own.

ELISSA MONTATI, GLOBAL MEDICAL RELIEF FUND: Children being brought in, lying unconscious, flies hovering over their face. It was surreal. It was like you couldn't even comprehend that this is happening and that nobody here really sees this.

HINOJOSA: Elissa, though, is committed to seeing and serving the youngest victims of war. It was seven years ago that Elissa, a former musician and lab technician, gave up everything to go to Bosnia to meet a 12-year-old war victim named Kenan Malkich (ph).

(on camera): In Bosnia, you lost how many limbs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two arms and my left leg

HINOJOSA (voice-over): All by herself, she convinced doctors to help him get new limbs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's my everything. You know, she took me out of Bosnia and made me what I am today, which is, you know, if it wasn't for her, I'll be probably like in a wheelchair by a window.

HINOJOSA: There are hundreds of children Elissa can't help, like these Iraqi victims in Basra. Her tiny organization is called The Global Medical Relief Fund. But essentially, it's just her.

MONTATI: And we don't even have the finances sometimes to pay the phone bill.

HINOJOSA: But the reward, something simple, like a huge smile from Ali (ph)...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He adore her. And it's like a dream for him. She's a dream.

HINOJOSA: ... or the joy of watching a broken child feel whole again. Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.


O'BRIEN: Over this past week, we have focused on the end of one very public and celebrated life. Perhaps now is as good a time as any to reaffirm the spirit and resiliency of life. And who embodies that more than Lance Armstrong?

The cycling legend is, of course, well known for triumphing in the Tour de France five times, and beating cancer as well. Armstrong will lead a pack of 20 others, cancer survivors, relatives of those with cancer, and cancer caregivers. This fall, they will ride from Los Angeles to Washington over the course of a week to raise awareness and spur on the quest for a cure.

Among those taking part, lymphoma survivor Rod Quiros, who joins us now from New York.

Rod, good to have you with us.

ROD QUIROS, LYMPHOMA SURVIVOR: Thank you. It's a pleasure.

O'BRIEN: What a treat. I know you're a competitive cyclist. Just to be able to do anything with Lance has got to be a thrill.

QUIROS: It is an absolute thrill But the key message that we need to walk away from here is -- walk away with here is that the Bristol-Myers Squibb Tour of Hope is a great event, to raise awareness about the importance of clinical trials and cancer research.

O'BRIEN: Well, how does riding a bike raise awareness of clinical trials, do you suppose?

QUIROS: What -- what we are going to do is, we're a very passionate team of 20 cyclists who have a direct connection to the cancer community. We have amongst us survivors, doctors, nurses, researchers. And we are going to ride across country to share our story and hopefully inspire those who are currently battling the disease and those who are involved with finding a cure to continue to hang in there, hold strong. And hopefully some day, together, we can find a cure for this dreaded disease.

O'BRIEN: Fair amount of inspiration, I'm sure, along the way. And Lance Armstrong, of course, I'm sure, is quite an inspiration to you.

QUIROS: He certainly is. His cycling talent is beyond belief, especially after being a, you know -- himself being a cancer survivor. But the noble part about this whole thing is that he has taken the time and the energy to be directly connected to this effort, to join us along the way, help us kick off the ride in LA and be part of the arrival in D.C., as well as riding some of the legs along the route.

O'BRIEN: And you've had a chance to meet him thus far. What -- did your impressions match your anticipation of what you expected? QUIROS: Absolutely. He has a very special connection with the cancer community. Everyone -- he can inspire those who love the sport of cycling, as well as those who know nothing about it, because of his survivor story, because he beat cancer and he's been able to achieve such great status as a sportsman today.

O'BRIEN: Now, you are a competitive cyclist. But this is still a daunting task, to make it cross country in the course of a week. Are you and your fellow riders a little bit concerned about fulfilling the deadline there?

QUIROS: I think there's always a little bit of concern when you're told that you're going to ride 3,500 miles across the country. But because of our commitment to the cause to find a cure, and support research and cancer clinical trials, I think there will -- there will be a very strong force behind us, driving us all the way through.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you, in your own personal experience, were there times when you thought you'd never be able to accomplish something like this?

QUIROS: Well, I can tell you, as you said, from personal experience, that I am here today because of a cancer clinical trial, because I participated in it. I owe my life to that. And I hope that by sharing my story, as well as the story of my other 19 teammates, we could raise awareness about -- about clinical trials and what it could do in the fight against the disease.

O'BRIEN: Rod Quiros, who will be among those on the tour of hope, starting this fall. We'll be watching very closely. Please check in with us along the way, will you?

QUIROS: Will do.

O'BRIEN: Safe riding.

QUIROS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Tricky ethical issues raised by the shooting death of a college student. Did a newspaper article contribute to the violence? That story is just ahead.


O'BRIEN: A small town in shock. Wilmington, North Carolina, coming to grips with the murder of a local college student. The 22- year-old woman apparently shot by her ex-boyfriend, who killed himself as police closed in. Sarah Dorsey (ph) with her story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her death has devastated us. We don't know how we're going to go on. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christen Naujok's mother, authorities say her daughter was attacked Friday night by ex-boyfriend, John Peck, who shot her 11 times in front of witnesses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there's a white male shooting at that door over there, and the lady was beating on the door trying to get inside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The murder comes nine days after an article was published in the Wilmington Star-News on domestic violence which questioned the lack of background checks on students at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Naujok's mother originally contacted the newspaper, alleging Peck was stalking her daughter. She then asked the paper to hold off on the story or delete both her daughter and Peck's name for fear of her daughter's safety. The newspaper published the article using both names, including Peck's criminal history and the fact that he lied to the university on his application.

ALLEN PARSONS, EXEC. EDITOR, STAR-NEWS: We agonized a fair bit over the issue of whether to go forward with the story. But we're concerned about -- given the recent history at UNCW and -- that it was an issue that we felt was not being properly addressed. We were trying to do some good with the story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The FBI was called in after a written note and audiotape were found in his apartment that authorities say contained a hit list of people he planned to kill. Three days after Naujoks was killed, park rangers found Peck in the Smokey Mountain National Park. A shootout and car chase ensued. Authorities say his truck plummeted over the side of a ravine after he shot himself in the head. The new Hanover County Sheriff's Office says it is not blaming the newspaper for its decision to publish the students' names.

Sarah Dorsey (ph), CNN, Atlanta.


PHILLIPS: A last-minute legal ruling keeps a comatose baby connected to life-saving machines. That story tops our look at "News Across America."

Less than an hour before seven-month-old Aidan Stein (ph) was scheduled to be disconnected, Ohio's Supreme Court blocked that move. The ruling allows a legal battle between Aidan's (ph) parents and his court-appointed guardian to be settled first. Matthew Stein (ph) is suspected of causing the brain injuries to his son. He denies it and has not been charged. Officials fear that Stein (ph) wants to keep his son alive to avoid being charged with murder.

So far, so good. At least six workers at an Oakland, California, lab are not showing signs of sickness after accidental exposure to anthrax. The exposure was caused by a shipping mix-up that delivered live anthrax to the lab, as opposed to a dead version of the bacteria.

In Arizona, the Vatican town of Nutrioso remains under evacuation alert because of a massive wildfire raging nearby. The 6,000-acre blaze broke out earlier this week, and it's being pushed by strong winds.

On this national day of mourning for Ronald Reagan, in just a few hours he will be buried in his beloved California. CNN will bring that to you live when it begins. The special coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. Eastern and continues throughout the evening.

More LIVE FROM after a break.


O'BRIEN: It's been quite a week. It started out with the death of America's 40th president.

PHILLIPS: And as the week comes to a close, the death of another American icon, singer Ray Charles. We're going to take you back now to a rare moment in January 1985, when both men were in the spotlight at the same time.

O'BRIEN: Ray Charles performing "America the Beautiful" at the inauguration festivities for President Reagan.




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