Walking Toward A Cure
The most poignant highlight of IHRSA 2014 was undoubtedly Augie Nieto’s BASH on March 14. The Life Fitness co-founder and creator of Augie’s Quest – an ALS research initiative – has raised almost $40 million toward finding a cure, and during BASH, the results were even more impressive. Smash Mouth kept the place rocking, Jann Carl of “Entertainment Tonight” emceed, and a total of $1.7 million was raised in a single night. That’s still not the moment everyone is talking about, however.
At the end of the night, Augie Nieto, diagnosed with ALS in 2005 and confined to a wheelchair for years, rose out of his seat to the tune of Aerosmith’s “Walk this Way.” With a large crowd watching and an assistant present, Augie defied his own ALS diagnosis and walked across the stage. It was a dramatic and moving moment, as those who have ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) expect a steady decline in motor skills, and usually never walk again once they stop. Augie walking across the stage isn’t just an impressive personal achievement – it’s a symbol of pride and progress for all those who suffer from the disease. Augie’s wife, Lynn, again remarked that, “They call it Lou Gehrig’s disease, but they’ll call it Augie Nieto’s Cure.”
Life Fitness was honored to be prominently involved in BASH as well. President Chris Clawson received the Augie’s Quest Leadership Award. He gave a memorable, unifying speech, reminding many in the industry of what Augie’s Quest stands for and how all of us can work together toward a common goal. Life Fitness also donated two Lifecycle GX bikes for the Augie’s Quest auction.
While IHRSA is a tradeshow that highlights competition and achievement between fitness manufacturers, for a special evening that competition became more about commitment. Augie’s walk across the stage is a message of hope for the future, and we look forward to the day when Augie’s Quest truly gives way to “Augie’s Cure.”