This month, LA Fitness is inviting you to get #Active for ALS. We are teaming up with Augie Nieto to support Augie’s Quest to find a cure ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gherig’s disease.
On Saturday, February 22 at 9:45 a.m. we are hosting a special group fitness class as a way for you to dedicate yourself to your workout and donate to for a good cause.
Want to know more about Augie’s Quest and ALS? So did we, so we asked Augie to tell us more about Augie’s Quest, ALS and his personal experience battling this disease.
Why did you decide to create Augie’s Quest?
Augie: I created Augie’s Quest because after my diagnosis I felt compelled to do something. I decided to focus all my efforts, energy and business acumen on finding a cure. I talked to my wife about what it would mean to live publicly with this disease and we decided together to be the face of ALS. Creating Augie’s Quest has given us a platform to take back some control, increase awareness, put money directly into the research and give other families hope.
How has MDA’s Augie’s Quest been able to change lives?
Augie: Since my diagnosis we have raised over $40 million for ALS research! Augie’s Quest has funded several successful research projects that have accelerated the development of therapeutics in this disease. Our partnership with ALS TDI has led to exciting new clinical trials and an agreement with several major pharmaceutical companies to jointly investigate potential treatments for ALS patients today! For the first time, families affected by ALS have hope.
Can you tell us how many people are diagnosed and living with ALS?
Augie: Every 90 minutes someone is diagnosed with ALS in the US. There are approximately 30,000 people living with ALS in the US and about 500,000 worldwide. The incidence rate of ALS is actually the same as MS, but because the prognosis (life expectancy) for ALS is 2-5 years, the number living with the disease remains low.
Have there been any new advancements in the past year in the fight to cure and treat ALS?
Augie: So much has happened in the last 12 months! At ALS TDI alone we have launched a new clinical trial and announced our efforts to add a state-of-the-art stem cell research center which could greatly accelerate drug development. Those were huge accomplishment in ALS in 2013! But, there was so much more done too, including looking exhaustively at another 30 different potential drugs in the lab and in partnership with more than a dozen different biotechnology companies. Some of those look pretty exciting I’m told, and I am confident our team will look to urgently advance them forward into the clinic as well.
How has creating Augie’s Quest helped you cope with battling ALS?
Augie: Creating Augie’s Quest gave me a larger purpose and something to focus on everyday other than my own health. The relationships I’ve formed with other families going through this continues to give me inspiration and motivation to never give up until a treatment is found.
What words of advice can you give to those who are fighting ALS and their families?
Augie: I encourage anyone fighting this battle to reach out to MDA and ALS TDI. The resources and information offered by these two organizations will help you immensely. Be proactive in your care and never give up hope.
The month long fundraiser hosted by LA Fitness is called “Active for ALS.” What do you, Augie, hope “Active for ALS” accomplishes?
Augie: I hope that this campaign increases awareness for ALS and encourages people to get active for those of us that can no longer work out. We are grateful for our partnership with LA Fitness and the generosity of your members will help us get closer to a cure.