Proceeds from ESPN-televised show to help natural bodybulding Mr. America John Pierce battle kidney cancer
Online PR News – 28-September-2011 – – At 43, reigning Mr. America John Pierce has exercised religiously, maintained an über-healthy diet, and is in the best shape of his life – except for the kidney cancer he only recently found out is trying to kill him.
But that's not stopping Pierce, a natural bodybuilder, from making his 'last stand' as guest poser at Fitness Florida.
The Fitness Florida extravaganza will debut Oct. 8 at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center, 75 Taylor St., Punta Gorda. The flagship event is MuscleMania, which has emerged as the world leader in natural bodybuilding – i.e. drug-free – competitions.
“This competition is a big one, with athletes from all 50 states as well as Canada and Mexico eligible to compete. We expect several of the finest natural competitors from all over North America,” said event co-promoter Brian McIsaac.
Also featured will be fitness, figure and bikini contests, which are known to attract scouts from some of the top modeling agencies in the entire country, McIsaac said.
Pierce has delayed having surgery in order to keep his commitment to attend. But he faces another challenge – no health insurance in the face of major surgery for his illness.
His predicament has rallied the support of McIsaac and co-promoter Dr. Mark Asperilla. They plan for part of the proceeds to go toward Pierce's medical bills, and the rest to area charities.
WINNERS NEVER QUIT
Pierce first entered bodybuilding contests in his early 20s, but soon realized that – without using steroids like some of the other competitors – he’d gone as far as he could go.
“I gave up on it. I looked around and told myself I can’t compete with these monsters,” he said.
He settled for keeping in shape and owning his own health club, New Image Fitness in Bonita Springs, Fla. But with the rise in natural bodybuilding competitions, he decided to try again.
Four years ago, Pierce gave himself an ultimatum to train as hard as he could for three years.
“I’ve got good genetics and I’ve been training hard all these years. I told myself if I bomb, I’ll never compete again,” he said.
He quietly entered last year’s MuscleMania competition in Las Vegas on the day of the show. Far from bombing, Pierce walked away with the Mr. America title.
Convinced he could compete in more contests, he turned pro in the MuscleMania organization.
And then his world fell apart.
HORROR AND HOPE
Pierce had always had a recurring problem with his sciatic nerve, and it had flared up a bit about seven weeks ago. His physician ordered an MRI.
“I was on my way back to the gym when my doctor called me to come back. He wouldn’t tell me what the problem was over the phone,” he said.
The MRI had accidentally uncovered a mass on one of his kidneys. Three weeks and numerous tests verified the worst – cancer.
“Now they’re talking about taking a quarter of my kidney out. But if the mass is too close to a main artery, they might have to take the whole kidney,” Pierce said.
Pierce was slow to break the news to McIsaac.
“I told him this is going to be my last show. When I finally did tell him the problem, he started freaking out. I told him, ‘I’ll do your show because I promised. After that, we’ll worry about my problem,’ ” he said.
Pierce has assured McIsaac that he’s in the best shape of his life. He plans to take the stage dressed like one of the Spartans from the movie “300.” He wants it to be his best performance because it may be his final time on stage. Without full use of both kidneys, his body wouldn’t be able to assimilate some of the supplements necessary to maintain the kind of muscle mass he needs to compete.
Pierce admitted that, being in such peak shape as a bodybuilder, he never thought about health insurance.
“My whole life I never had any health problems. I ate right, lived the most outstanding healthy lifestyle. There’s never been any cancer in my family. It just blows my mind,” he said.
Pierce said he’s keeping his thoughts focused on Florida Fitness, eating as he always has, living as he always has. But he confessed there are nagging concerns in the back of his mind – mostly about where he’ll find the money for his surgeries and treatment, what kind of loans might be available.
McIsaac and Asperilla have stepped in to make a contribution from the proceeds of Fitness Florida – an event whose profits were always slated for area charities. Asperilla, too, is pulling strings with others in the health care profession to get Pierce back on his feet.
“I feel so bad for him because if it can happen to someone in this kind of shape, it can happen to anyone. “There are so many uninsured and uninsured in this country. It’s a tragedy, which is why I’ve tried to do all I can to help these people get the health care they need even if they can’t afford it,” Asperilla said.
“This kind of thing takes the wind out of your sails. But I’m so grateful for the help I’m getting. That’s why I want to give Brian and Mark the best show I can, and leave with my head high,” Pierce said.