Featured in this article: Honors for Luke ** Augie Nieto receives national recognition ** Pussycat Dolls promote ALS battle ** Virtual duffers enjoy Jerry Lewis Online Open ** Empire State Building lights up for MDA ** 'Love Network' station helps recover wheelchair
Luke continues to earn honors
Former MDA National Goodwill Ambassador Luke Christie continues to demonstrate his academic prowess.
At a gathering of Future Business Leaders of America in Atlanta, Luke took fifth place in the Business Presentation awards of excellence. More than 7,000 FBLA participants from around the world attended the gathering and Luke, who had just completed his high school freshman year, competed against 100 other students, including seniors.
“My goal was to make it to the top 10; when I learned I’d been awarded fifth place, I was really excited,” he said.
In addition to reaping scholastic recognition and staying busy in Boy Scouts, Luke is currently the 2008 MDA Harley-Davidson Goodwill Ambassador.
Augie receives national recognition
|Augie and Lynne Nieto|
Augie Nieto recently received the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ 2008 President’s Award.
The award recognizes journalists and industry pioneers whose contributions provide inspiration for Latinos to enter journalism or help to improve news coverage of the U.S. Latino community.
Nieto, 50, a pioneer in the fitness industry, learned he had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) in March 2005.
Since then he has increasingly relied upon communications, respiratory and mobility technology as the disease has caused progressive paralysis.
“This award is a testament to the choice I’ve made to live for what I can do instead of mourning the things I’m unable to do,” Nieto said. “I’m proud to have been selected for such an honor.”
Pop music group promotes ALS battle
Augie Nieto was a pioneer in the fitness industry (he is the co-founder and former president of Life Fitness, and current chairman of Octane Fitness), so it’s not surprising that the industry wants to join in his fight against ALS.
|The Pussycat Dolls|
As part of the industry’s Clubs for a Cure campaign, Bally Total Fitness recently raised funds for MDA’s ALS Division by offering members and non-members alike the chance to attend special exercise classes and donate to Augie’s Quest.
Bally’s effort was promoted by the pop music group the Pussycat Dolls, which taped commercials and public service announcements. The group’s performance attracted national attention when MDA National Vice President Nancy O’Dell, host of the TV newsmagazine show “Access Hollywood,” covered the event.
O’Dell, whose mother lost her battle with ALS earlier this year, has partnered with MDA to raise public awareness and funds for its ALS Division. O’Dell also served as a co-host for this year’s Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.
Virtual duffers enjoy Jerry Lewis Online Open
MDA, in conjunction with World Golf Tour, conducted the 2008 Jerry Lewis Open, an online golf fundraising program, Oct. 10-30.
Visitors to www.jerrylewisopen.org could play realistic virtual golf on simulations of the world’s most famous courses, testing their skills, competing for best score, and entering a sweepstakes. In addition to having fun, players could make donations to MDA: $10 for the sweepstakes; $20 for the skills contest.
Empire State Building lights up for MDA
Each of the three nights, the upper levels of the building were swathed in alternating blue and white light panoramas from sunset to midnight.
Recognition for MDA was part of the building’s “Lighting Partner” program that also helps promote the good works of charitable organizations throughout the year.
“We’re pleased we can acknowledge the good works of MDA,” said Jim Connors, Empire State Building general manager, adding that the Association “works so diligently to help people from all walks of life.”
Jerry Lewis expressed delight at the light show, calling the Empire State Building “an American icon.”
MDA’s “Love Network” television station in Norfolk, Va., recently did great work as a lost-and-found resource for 13-year-old Bryce Patton of nearby Chesapeake.
Bryce, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and his family had headed for Virginia Beach on a Saturday, and left his wheelchair near where they parked their car.
Mary, Bryce’s mom, checked periodically to make sure the chair was still there while they enjoyed the beach, but when her back was turned, it disappeared.
“At first we thought maybe someone had confused it with one of the beach loaner chairs, but after we’d looked and looked, we realized it was truly gone,” she said. “I was really upset because the chair belonged to close family friends who’d loaned it to us.”
The Pattons filed a police report, but Mary also thought to call WAVYTV because the station has an “on your side” type of public assistance program. The station aired the story of Bryce’s missing wheelchair, and within minutes three people called to say they’d loan Bryce a chair until his could be found.
That wasn’t long. A woman called and said she thought she may have spotted it, tucked between two parked cars about six blocks from the beach. The police picked it up, and Bryce and Mary went down to identify and retrieve it.
“We were just ecstatic. First, people were so willing to help us, complete strangers. Then we got Bryce’s chair back,” she said.
Bryce was especially glad. This time of year he volunteers to visit area fire stations and thank members of the International Association of Fire Fighters as they head out on their annual MDA Fill-the-Boot fundraising drives. He visits as many as eight stations per day, and his enthusiasm is a big motivator for them, his mom says.