This evening, Pam and I had the privilege of attending and covering Augie's Beach Bash, a fundraiser for ALS research. This was the third annual bash, and the second bash I have attended. And believe me, each year the event seems to get bigger and bigger.
Held at the Marriott Hotel and Marina in San Diego, the event began with cocktails outside and a silent auction. Pam and I were running late and barely missed the open bar. (Pam didn't mind, but I was a bit bummed. A long day at a trade show is always made a bit better with a good glass of chardonnay, after all.) But we did arrive to in time to mingle and take some photos.
Once inside the ballroom, Pam took photos of the venue, which was decorated with a beach theme (surfboards, people in bikinis, etc.), while I took notes. Sometimes the best part of being a journalist is having an excuse to stand right up front at events like this. Natalie Morales from "The Today Show" emceed the event, and Ronnie Lott, NFL Hall of Famer and former San Francisco 49er, gave the keynote address, telling everyone to bring "whoo" to what you do every day. Whoo, Lott said, is that little extra effort and really living in the moment. He also said that Augie Nieto had definite whoo, saying, "I respect Augie for everything he's done and how he's exhausted the moment."
Augie and his wife, Lynne, also took the stage. Since Augie received his diagnosis three years ago, Augie's Quest has helped raise $12.5 million for ALS research. The group's goal is to discover the cause of ALS by 2009, Lynne said.
Augie also said a few words, appreciating all the love and support he'd received over the last three years.
"I spent my whole life making people normal and healthy. That's a cruel irony," Nieto said. "But I'm happier today than I've ever been in my whole life."
The event's 1,100 attendees raised $1.5 million for Augie's Quest, including a $50,000 donation from Bally and a $200,000 pledge from the Clubs for the Cure program, which was begun by the Atlantic Clubs in Manasquan, NJ. --Jennipher