A pioneer in the fitness industry, Augie Nieto received a diagnosis of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) in March 2005 and began the fight of his life. Augie was co-founder and president of Life Fitness, and is now chairman of Octane Fitness. As co-chairs of MDA’s ALS Division for the seventh year, the Nietos are raising awareness of the disease through public appearances, speaking engagements, media interviews and public service announcements. For every year since 2006, Augie and Lynne have shared their story on the national broadcast of the MDA Labor Day show. Augie also serves MDA as a national vice president.
Under the banner MDA’s Augie’s Quest, Nieto and his wife, Lynne, are supporting MDA’s aggressive fundraising and research effort aimed at finding more effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
MDA’s ALS Division is the world leader among voluntary agencies in fighting ALS, offering the most comprehensive range of services, including a national network of clinics. MDA has dedicated $324 million to ALS research, services and education. MDA’s Augie’s Quest is solely dedicated to funding ALS research. Augie’s Quest has raised nearly $37 million in seven years, and 100 percent of all donations to MDA’s Augie’s Quest go directly to ALS research.
Augie’s Quest has funded several successful ALS research projects that have accelerated the development of therapeutics in this disease. Foremost among these is the partnership between MDA’s Augie’s Quest and the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). Thanks to the funds donated by public support of Augie’s Quest (more than $31 million to date, matched by ALS TDI for a total investment of more than $50 million), scientists at ALS TDI have screened more than 100 molecules to see if they affect the progression of ALS.
ALS TDI screens at least 25 therapeutics each year, and it currently has more than 30 ongoing projects targeting highly relevant and newly identified aspects of this disease. ALS TDI also reached an agreement with two major global pharmaceutical companies — Biogen Idec and UCB — to jointly investigate a potential treatment for ALS. ALS TDI’s CEO and Chief Scientific Officer Steve Perrin is working to bring this and other potential treatments for ALS to clinical trials as quickly as possible.
In addition, MDA’s Augie’s Quest funded a research project with the Translational Genomics Research Institute in 2006, and donated the seed money for the MDA/ALS Center at UC Irvine in 2007.