Life Fitness, Rosemont, Illinois, welcomed its founder, Augie Nieto, back to its factory in Franklin Park, Illinois, on Sept. 16. Nieto visited the factory with his wife, Lynne, to see the showroom dedicated to him and as part of the filming of a documentary about Nieto's battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Life Fitness President Chris Clawson and Life Fitness employees greeted the Nietos, who live in California, when they arrived at the factory, which had been company headquarters when Nieto was president. Clawson gave the couple of tour of the Augie Nieto Fitness Center, a showroom that was dedicated to Nieto a few years ago, according to a company spokesperson. He was unable to attend the original dedication.
Clawson also showed Nieto and Lynne the factory, shared with them how the business had evolved since Nieto's departure and then treated the two to lunch with some of the Life Fitness employees.
Nieto was diagnosed with ALS 11 years ago. Since then, he and his wife have been raising funds through their Augie's Quest organization to find a cure for the muscle-wasting disease. The money raised goes to fund research at the ALS Therapy Development Institute.
One of the most recent fundraising efforts involves staff and members from health clubs across the country joining together as TeamQuest4ALS to run the Brooklyn Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Oct. 8 in Brooklyn, New York. Thirteen clubs and vendors are participating in the event and have raised $318,000 in donations as of Monday. The goal is to raise $375,000.
The documentary about Nieto's battle began production in October 2015 and has finished filming for the most part, according to Kayla Thornton with PCH Films, the documentary production company. She said she is uncertain whether footage of the Life Fitness visit will be included in the final version of the documentary, which likely will be released in 2017. A distributor for the film is unknown at this time, she said.
PCH Films also produced for CNN the documentary "Glen Campbell – I'll Be Me." That film, which originally aired in June 2015, was about country singer Glen Campbell and his battle with Alzheimer's disease.
The company's other productions include "Walk the Line," "Groundhog Day" and "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" among others.
PCH Films was founded in 2007 by actor and director James Keach, actress Jane Seymour and Trevor Albert, according to the company's website. Keach is directing the documentary.