If you have ever worked out in a gym, you likely have seen the mark a man left on the fitness world.
Augie Nieto inspired millions across the country to exercise until his own muscles, including his heart and lungs stopped working due to the ravages of ALS.
Augie lived with ALS for 18 years when the life expectancy was two. And now in death, his quest for a cure continues.
His first idea was an exercise bike he called Lifecycle.
Augie and some friends packed up and ventured across country, certain his exercise bike would drive people to stock the gyms.
“He was just a tenacious guy in everything he did,” Lynne said. “And at the beginning, he had nothing to lose.”
With no buyers for his bike, Augie switched gears.
“Couldn’t sell them,” Lynne said. “So then he got this brilliant idea to give them away to these club owners and once they knew the product, they became customers after that.”
He showed them off to Arnold Schwarzenegger as he celebrated his success. Augie was strong and with the love of his love by his side, he knew his future was bright.
“He had a great sense of humor,” Lynne said.
But a single diagnosis robbed his smile.
“He went into a real depression and at the time about a month and a half after our diagnosis, he tried to take his life by taking some pills,” Lynne said. “After he woke up in the hospital, he wanted to live and he wanted to give any amount of time that he had left his efforts to try to help.”
Knowing his muscles would betray him, Augie put all of his strength into beating ALS, a degenerative and incurable neuromuscular disease.
“It was sort of the cruelest, the worst tragedy to happen to Augie was ALS,” Lynne said. “On the other hand, it was also his greatest victory.”
As muscle tissue began to break down, soon Augie could no longer stand tall, but he chose to live and thrive.
The fundraisers built in a national effort. But where would the money go?
Augie called on the world’s top scientists. He hired them to come together in one place – ALS/TDI.
It’s not just the search for a cure.
Engineers designed high-tech wheelchairs so Augie could stand and walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding.
When he couldn’t talk as the disease impacted his tongue, they created adaptive speech technology he first controlled with his fingers, then toes and when they gave out, his eyes tracked the letters to make the words he wanted to communicate.
With each loss, Augie kept hope Alive.
From success to significance, his life’s mission was emblazoned on the life cycle.
“He wanted to make certain that other families didn’t have to go through what our family and so many other families with ALS have gone through,” Lynne said.
Then one day in early February, after a series of health crises and painful ailments, Lynne arrived at the hospital.
“Where I would normally kind of sit and look at his charts so when the doctors rounded I’d have all my questions ready and he said no come here,” Lynne said. “And he said we are both winners. I’m done with living and I’ve fought long and hard. So he made the decision like he made so many other decisions that he was done and that afternoon we removed him from the ventilator.”
Lynne said she promised him his quest would continue until they were successful.
Augie was such a bright light and friend.
While he advanced the research into ALS, there is still so much to be done. Augie’s Quest continues.