Stanley Cup Makes Everyone a Champion—Even Those Unable to Lift It

Ken ArmerSenior Writer IJune 15, 2008

Even with the Stanley Cup under new ownership, it cant seem to stop visiting Southern California. After Chris Osgood and Nick Lidstrom took it on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Tuesday night, it went on to appear at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood Wednesday night for the premiere of "The Love Guru." After basking for one more fun filled evening of the Hollywood glow, the Cup made a more somber trip, one to the living room to fulfill a promise.

Chris Osgood fulfilled the promise when he lifted the 115-year old, 35 lb. trophy onto the lap of Augie Nieto, 50, a former weightlifter who no longer has the strength to lift his own arm due to ALS.

"It feels like I'm a champion – I'm part of a dynasty," said Nieto, though almost no one could understand his words. His son Austin, 22, who is used to his dad's slurred speech, translated.

Nieto made a name for himself through bodybuilding, a sport which he revolutionized. Once a man known for his strength and speech, while in college he co-founded what is now called Life Fitness. Life Fitness, for those of you work-out freaks, probably made the exercise bike you use.

In 2005, Nieto was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease slowly paralyzes those with it until they can no longer eat or breathe on their own. Most die in three to five years.

Nieto, the man who made a name for mastery of his body, took on the challenge and fought the disease. He teamed up with the Muscular Dystrophy Association to launch "Augie's Quest," which raised more than $14 million in the last three years for ALS research.

Nieto even appeared in Parade Magazine, asking successful business leaders to give back without expecting something in return. One such individual was Mike Illitch, the Owner of the Red Wings. Illitch donated $250,000 to fight ALS and made a promise: if the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup, we'll bring it to your home.

On Wednesday, the promise was completed as Chris Osgood presented Nieto with the trophy.

"Mr. Ilitch wanted me to deliver the cup to him," he said. "I didn't know what to expect. But you just feel this energy and positive feeling from him."

He said it felt good.

That's exactly what Nieto wants. And what he talks about in his book: give something to someone without expectations and magic happens. With a struggle, he slowly added: "You end up getting more back than you ever could've hoped for."

As a writer, and a hockey fan this is an awe inspiring story. At the end of the day, regardless whose trophy case it sits in, or who wins it, it brings people together. The Cup sees no bias; it knows no pain except for the pain to win it. The Cup is eternally happy, and shares this euphoric emotion where ever it goes.

Source: Berg, Tom. "Stanley Cup pops up in Corona del Mar." O.C. Register 11 Jun 2008 Sports. 15 Jun 2008

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