MANASQUAN, NJ – More than 800 clubs are now involved in the Clubs for the Cure effort to raise money for Augie’s Quest, says Pat Laus, owner of the Atlantic Clubs in Manasquan, NJ, and originator of the idea for the grassroots effort.

Clubs participating in the fundraising effort will conduct one event on one day for one hour by June 31 to raise money to help fund research for a cure for ALS, a disease with which Augie Nieto, founder of Life Fitness, has been diagnosed. Since his diagnosis, Nieto has devoted his life to raising money to find a cure for the disease.

“It’s a rewarding and emotional project to be a part of,” says Laus, a former nurse who worked with ALS patients. “Augie is so blown away by this.”

Laus had created a Clubs for the Cure program to raise money for Avon’s breast cancer fundraising efforts, but within the past few years, several people in her life beyond Nieto have been diagnosed with ALS, so she decided to take the process that her club had in place for the Avon program and apply it to ALS.

Clubs committing to the effort include a large number of independent clubs of all sizes, says Kevin McHugh, COO at The Atlantic Clubs, as well as multi-unit club companies, such as Life Time Fitness, Chanhassen, MN; Lifestyle Family Fitness, St. Petersburg, FL; Bally Total Fitness, Chicago; Xsport Fitness Centers, Chicago; Western Athletic Clubs, San Francisco; the Alaska Athletic Clubs, Anchorage, AK; and others.

The Clubs for the Cure team enrolled more than 200 clubs at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association conference last month. Clubs for the Cure has also begun developing strategic partnerships with equipment suppliers and consultants who are developing their own initiatives to become part of the effort, Laus says.

The Atlantic Club staff is working overtime on a volunteer basis to provide assistance to clubs who agree to participate. In addition, the public relations firm that the Atlantic Club works with is donating its services to create the marketing materials for participating clubs.

“A lot of people have stepped up to the plate on this,” Laus says, adding that although her staff and she are putting in a lot of extra time on this, they are still meeting their club’s business goals. “Here we are with the exceptional staff that I have and their willingness to make a difference and volunteer their hours over their normal hours. How could you miss an opportunity like this if you know how to help?”

Monetary commitments from clubs have already reached $1.5 million, she says, adding that she expects the commitments to reach at least $2 million.

“I’ve been active in the industry for 26 years. I can’t tell you how overwhelming it is to me that we were able to birth this program and see it be successful,” Laus says.

To participate in the effort, club owners can go to www.clubsforthecure.com.