Health & Fitness Business '07: Fun, fundraising gathers $11K+ for Augie's Quest, ups show energy

From a pre-show golf scramble to show-floor fundraising activities, attendees at this year's Health & Fitness Business show, Aug. 2-4, stepped up in multiple ways organized by SNEWS® to have a little fun all in the name of donations to Augie's Quest.
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From a pre-show golf scramble to show-floor fundraising activities, attendees at this year's Health & Fitness Business show, Aug. 2-4, stepped up in multiple ways organized by SNEWS® to have a little fun all in the name of donations to Augie's Quest.

Augie's Quest is a non-profit setup by Augie Nieto, Life Fitness founder and Octane Fitness chairman, under the auspices of the Muscular Dystrophy Association to raise money to fund research for a cure for the debilitating and fatal ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Nieto was diagnosed with ALS in March 2005. The money was donated to the MDA in the names of both Nieto and long-time sports and fitness rep Dennis "OD" O'Donnell, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2004.

SNEWS® will run a story and pictures later in August about its 2nd Annual Golf Scramble, which raised the largest chunk of money thanks to 70-plus industry golfers, overwhelming industry donations, and the efforts of celebrity athlete and Charlotte Fitness owner Steve Beuerlein. We know you want to know who played in the pre-show event Aug. 1, who won and, yes, who came in dead last. So stay tuned on that.

Meanwhile, the MDA Denver-area regional branch, which assisted SNEWS® in organization, has announced a grand total raised (so far) of $11,300*, through sponsorships, donations, golf, silent auction bids, show floor activities and general industry generosity.

"Words cannot describe the feeling that my wife, Lynne, and I have with the success of your event," Nieto told SNEWS®. "It is through your efforts and the efforts of the fitness industry that have given hope to ALS patients around the world."

We put a little asterisk by the amount raised since the final total may vary slightly once the final sponsorship checks, donations from SNEWS® subscriptions, and silent auction payments have been gathered up.

Ex-NFL pro quarterback Beuerlein alone managed to squeeze an additional $1,230 from golfers who ante'd up with a few bills extra to be able to use his drive instead of theirs on a tough Par-5 hole.

The silent auction, which raised nearly $4,000, saw generous donations from Brunswick (Life Fitness parent), as well as autographed pieces from LeMond Fitness co-owner Greg LeMond and Beuerlein, and non-industry manufacturers The North Face and CamelBak. Winners and items were:

>> Brunswick Foosball table: Tim Porth, Octane Fitness (in a tough bid to the end with SNEWS® co-owner Michael Hodgson)
>> Brunswick Pool table: Jeff Stewart
>> LeMond Fitness bike jersey autographed by LeMond: John Straub
>> Football autographed by Beuerlein: Chuck Last, Valeo
>> CamelBak hydration daypack: Cindy Gardner, Valeo
>> The North Face jacket: Marc Onigman, Stonehearth Fitness

An in-booth SNEWS® mini-golf putt-putt challenge saw additional money raised with top putter Jeff Stewart, knocking in so many consequent shots (27,… yes, 27) while balanced on a wobble board or sitting on a stability ball that the team finally made him stop out of fairness to give others a passing chance! Meanwhile, Beuerlein, NFL retired pro Trace Armstrong (GoFit co-owner) and Tour de France winner Greg LeMond (LeMond Fitness co-owner) made appearances in the SNEWS® booth to gain attention to the fundraising activities.

SNEWS® subscriptions were also offered at the show for half-price ($92.50) if the new subscriber also topped that with a $5 donation to Augie's Quest, which SNEWS® matched. (Tip: If you are a free retail subscriber or are a non-subscriber who has been passed this story -- naughty, naughty -- SNEWS® will announce an extension into early September of that special which means you could get the full-access SNEWS® for $1.77 a week.)

Said MDA Denver regional director Dave Bartels, "The way the retail fitness industry stepped up has been a real inspiration for me and for everybody else at the MDA. Augie himself is very appreciative of everybody's participation at any level and he has been flattered that so many stepped up to the cause.

"Even smaller events help us reach our goal," Bartels added about the quest (www.augiesquest.org) for a cure. "We will find a cure for ALS, one dollar at a time. Every dollar counts."

SNEWS® View: We too were overwhelmed and nearly giddy with the folks who stepped up to have some fun for a good cause, as well as the companies that didn't blink when asked for sponsorship donations. We hope not only that the energy will spread, that other companies will find ways to organize benefits, and that some may look at donations to Augie's Quest separately during the year.

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