MDA'S Augie's Quest Reaches Goal Of $18 Million For ALS Research
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease) destroys nerve cells that control muscles. Complete paralysis and death typically occur within two to five years after diagnosis.
MDA's ALS Division leads the search to find treatments and a cure for ALS. A key element of that effort is MDA's Augie's Quest, a cure-driven fundraising initiative named after Augie Nieto of Corona del Mar, Calif., who, with his wife, Lynne, co-chairs the MDA ALS Division. A pioneer in the fitness equipment industry, Augie learned he has ALS in March 2005.
When launching MDA's Augie's Quest three years ago, the Nietos set an ambitious goal of raising $18 million for research the first three years. Despite Augie's advancing paralysis, they embarked on a series of major fundraising events across the country.
The $18 million goal is now fully realized. The money raised is being invested in laboratory research that each day comes closer to defeating ALS. MDA and Augie's Quest collaborate closely with the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) of Cambridge, Mass., to apply cutting-edge technologies to ALS drug development.
"We've had a really good return on our investment in scientific achievements at ALS TDI," said Sharon Hesterlee, senior vice president and executive director of MDA Venture Philanthropy (MVP). "The team at ALS TDI has hit all of their milestones, frequently in advance of the dates originally set. This industrial scale approach has led to the identification of promising candidates for an ALS therapy. We couldn't be happier about the progress."
"When we launched Augie's Quest, I wasn't willing to accept the prospect of not meeting our goal, even though it was a great deal of money," Nieto said. "Now that we have accomplished what we set out to do, it only makes me more determined than ever to continue forging ahead. The $18 million is only a stepping stone." (No longer able to speak, Nieto relies on an augmentative communication device and other adaptations to communicate).
"From the first moment I met Augie, I knew he was an amazing person. But this is an incredible achievement," MDA National Chairman Jerry Lewis said. "The entire ALS community owes him a debt of gratitude."
MDA is a voluntary health agency supporting programs of worldwide research, comprehensive services, advocacy and professional and public health education for muscular dystrophy and related diseases.
The Association's programs are funded almost entirely by individual private contributors.
Augie's Quest, MDA's ALS research initiative, is an aggressive, cure-driven effort singularly focused on finding treatments and a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease).
Muscular Dystrophy Association
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