Thank you for your interest in supporting Team #NESTORSTRONG & EMPOWER Personalized Fitness!

Ever since Nestor’s diagnosis in 2015, we the EMPOWER Personalized Fitness community have been personally touched and inspired by Nestor’s story and we are committed to raising funds and awareness for the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke.  Please join us in this fight against brain cancer so that we can help more people like Nestor create and experience the life they envision and live to tell their positive and inspirational stories.

In 2016, Nestor challenged the EMPOWER community to assemble the largest team of runners and walkers for the 23rd annual Angels Among Us 5K and Family Fun Walk, and WE DID IT with over 100 registered team members!

In 2017, we set the goal of raising $20,000 for Angels Among Us, and WE DID THAT TOO!

Watch Nestor and his neuro-oncologist Dr. Henry S. Friedman speak at a #NESTORSTRONG fundraising event HERE:  

This year, in 2018, we continue our fight against brain tumors and brain cancer as Nestor’s journey enters a new phase:  creating and experiencing the life he envisioned before cancer struck. There are many ways for you to get involved and support this cause that is so near and dear to the EMPOWER Community, to Nestor, and to his wife Ashley.  Please consider joining us in this ongoing fight against brain cancer through one or more of the following charitable opportunities:

Angels Among Us – April 28, 2018 – 8:00 am

Join Empower and Team #NestorStrong for this family-friendly event that is sure to be a blast for everyone. The day begins with a 5K run through the Duke campus, followed by a 3K family walk through Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Angels Among Us also offers a silent auction, fun activities for children, live music and food trucks.

Register HERE for the 5K RUN or 3K Walk on TEAM #NESTORSTRONG

Can’t make it to Durham, NC on April 28?  You can still support TEAM #NESTORSTRONG when you register for the race, purchase a TEAM #NESTORSTRONG T-shirt, and run a 5K or walk a 3K in your hometown or wherever you are on April 28th while wearing your #NESTORSTRONG T-shirt.  Afterwards, TAKE A PHOTO/SELFIE in your T-shirt, then show your support on social media by posting it to Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram with the hashtag #NESTORSTRONG.  Let’s start a trend on April 28!


NEW DESIGN for 2018 –  Team #NestorStrong Race Shirt

Get Yours for Only $30

(Men’s and Women’s sizes available)

Proceeds will be donated to the Brain Tumor Center at Duke

Pick up in studio or we will ship! (Must order by April 1, 2018)



Do you own a local business? Please consider becoming a CORPORATE SPONSOR of Angels Among Us!

A personal letter from Nestor and Ashley Paonessa:

As you likely already know, the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center (BTC) at Duke has been an incredibly important part of my and Ashley’s life over the last three years.  The Duke BTC, it’s doctors, researchers, and staff are THE reason why I am still alive today after having received the diagnosis of a grade IV glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) malignant brain tumor in July of 2015, a disease that traditionally has a survival time of only 12-15 months even with treatment.  Ashley and I have since joined the Planning Committee for the annual Angels Among Us 5K run/walk, which is the single largest source of unrestricted funding for the BTC with 100% of funds raised going directly to the BTC so that the doctors and researchers can use the money for exactly what they need, whether it’s purchasing new lab equipment or recruiting the best and brightest minds in the world to develop cutting-edge treatments and, hopefully someday, a cure.  Please watch the following short video to learn more about Angels Among Us and the Duke Brain Tumor Center:

I sincerely hope you will consider becoming a sponsor of this event, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary on April 28th, 2018!  For more information regarding sponsorship please click here!

Learn more about Angels Among Us HERE:

Read about the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center HERE:

With love and gratitude,

Nestor and Ashley Paonessa

Make a Secure Online Donation

Every little bit helps in the fight against cancer! Please consider making a tax-deductible, secure online donation of any amount directly to The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke.

Donate Online

(Please choose #NestorStrong)

Nestor’s Story

As most of you already know, our Assistant General Manager Nestor Paonessa was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July of 2015.  Just days after diagnosis, most of the tumor was surgically removed at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke.  Immediately following surgery, Nestor began immunotherapy, intense radiation treatments, and a 2-year-long regimen of chemotherapy that he finally completed in August of 2017.  Thanks to doctors Henry and Allan Friedman and the rest of their elite team of researchers, doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and radiologists, Nestor has been EMPOWERed to face a historically fatal cancer diagnosis head-on and to fully live the life he envisions once again.

To see how Nestor is truly living his best life click here!

#nestorstrongMeet Nestor

  • M.S. Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • B.A. Exercise and Sport Science – Athletic Training, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
  • Athletic Trainer – Retired
  • NCBATE Licensed Athletic Trainer
  • My top 3 songs on my playlist right now: You won’t find individual songs on my playlist – instead, I prefer radio “stations” covering the genres of Merengue, Bachata, Samba, Bossanova, and other Latin/Smooth Jazz.
  • Favorite Movie – Star Wars – The Last Jedi (if you haven’t already, see it in IMAX 3D – it will blow your mind!  Can’t wait for Episode IX…)
  • Favorite place to spend my free time – Somewhere in the middle of the woods backpacking with my beautiful wife Ashley


Thank you for your support of TEAM #NESTORSTRONG and the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke. Your donation gives survivors like Nestor HOPE that they too can still chase their dreams and lead a long and fulfilling life; the life that they envision for themselves.


The EMPOWER Personalized Fitness TEAM