TUCSON, Ariz. — A couple from Corona del Mar, Calif., well-known for their philanthropic contributions, will be making their fifth consecutive live appearance on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon over Labor Day weekend.
Augie and Lynne Nieto, in their volunteer roles as co-chairs of MDA's ALS Division, help raise awareness of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and MDA's efforts to fight the disease through media interviews, speaking engagements and public service announcements.
Augie Nieto, 52, was a very successful entrepreneur in the fitness industry when he learned in 2005 that he has ALS. The disease destroys nerve cells that control voluntary muscles, leading to paralysis and death, usually within three to five years after diagnosis.
As his disease has progressed, Nieto increasingly relies on assistive devices for breathing, communication and mobility.
Despite those challenges, the Nietos have been the driving force behind Augie’s Quest, MDA’s aggressive ALS research initiative that in just over four years has raised more than $23 million to fund scientific and medical investigations.
On the Telethon, the Nietos will talk about their commitment to finding a cure for ALS, and discuss promising research advances made possible by funding from Augie’s Quest.
“I’m delighted, and humbled, to have Augie and Lynne back on our show,” said Jerry Lewis, MDA national chairman and Telethon star. “Their lives are filled with adversity, but they persevere in their hope and confidence that MDA will find a cure for ALS. Their story will inspire and motivate viewers to help us put an end to this devastating disease."
Originating from the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, the Telethon begins at 9 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 5, and will run for 21½ hours. In the Corona del Mar area, the Telethon can be seen on KCAL, Channel 9.
MDA is at the forefront of worldwide efforts to find treatments and a cure for ALS. The Association funds approximately 200 clinics throughout the country, 37 of which are specialized MDA/ALS centers, and provides a wide variety of services to assist those with the disease. MDA has spent more than $270 million to date on its ALS programs.
In 2009, pledges and donations to the MDA Telethon surpassed $60 million.
The show will be broadcast to nearly 40 million viewers in the United States and Canada via more than 170 television stations in MDA’s "Love Network." Millions more worldwide will see the show live via the Internet at www.mda.org, courtesy of RealNetworks.
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education. MDA is the first nonprofit to earn a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Medical Association (“for significant and lasting contributions to the health and welfare of humanity”).
MDA maintains clinics for area adults and children with muscle-damaging diseases at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and University of California Irvine Medical Center, both in Orange; and Loma Linda University Pediatric Neuroscience Center in San Bernardino, Calif.