Aiden Tai Gossage, 16, died after being struck by an alleged speeding driver on Sept. 4, 2021, according to authorities. Photo courtesy of Lily Gossage.

A Long Beach gym opening up next month will offer a membership program memorializing 16-year-old Millikan High School student Aiden Gossage, an aspiring bodybuilder who was crashed into and killed while walking home in 2021.

“When we heard about Aiden’s story, … we really felt passionate that this was something we really wanted to do,” said Anthony Carter, who—along with his wife Eileen—is opening an Anytime Fitness gym near Millikan. “At such as young age, 16, he already understood the importance of eating healthy and taking care of your body.”

Aiden’s drive to stay healthy started when he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that left him hospitalized at 10 years old, according to his mother Lily Gossage.

That experience was very painful for him, Lily said, adding that the medication for his disease caused him to gain a fair amount of weight, which led to bullying in middle school.

It never fazed Aiden, who deflected the bullying through his charm and humor. But he wasn’t happy either, his mother recalled.

By the time he was 16 years old, Aiden’s commitment to health and fitness was undeniable. Not only had he discovered a love for the gym and clean eating, but he soon found a passion for bodybuilding.

At its graduation ceremony, Millikan honored Aiden Gossage, who was killed when he was struck by a driver on Sept. 4, 2021. A chair holds his graduation gear and photo during the 66th Annual Millikan High School Commencement at Long Beach Veterans Stadium, Wednesday, June 9, 2022. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Hardly ever home, Aiden could be found spending countless hours at the gym each day, according to his family. When he wasn’t exercising, he often thought about how one day he’d be helping train other people on their journey to good health.

“He told me he wanted to live forever,” Lily said.

But on the night of Sept. 4, 2021, Aiden’s life was cut short when he was walking home from the gym. He was hit by a driver, who prosecutors allege was speeding. The suspect in the case is still awaiting trial on charges he was doing so negligently after charges he was under the influence of alcohol were dismissed.

Aiden was just a few weeks shy of his 17th birthday when he died. Since that night, Aiden’s family has been fighting for justice while making efforts to keep Aiden’s memory alive.

“When he was killed, I wanted to find a way to memorialize him,” Lily said, “I was hoping to do something he would like, not something that I would like.”

Then, just a few weeks ago, the idea to create a gym membership in his name came to fruition after she met Carter, who, along with his wife, owns the soon-to-open Anytime Fitness. It’s just two blocks from Millikan and taking over the space from Fitness 19, where Aiden worked out and was employed.

Lily explained to Carter how much time Aiden had spent at Fitness 19. In order to honor Aiden’s memory, she said, she hoped to sponsor memberships for a group of 16 students.

Carter was moved by Aiden’s story, so he accepted Lily’s offer and decided to match it to create the Aiden Tai Gossage Membership.

The membership will offer an inaugural group of 16 students the opportunity to join Anytime Fitness Long Beach for $1 and receive five free months. The gym usually charges a $99 enrollment fee along with a $50 deposit. The number 16 was chosen for Aiden’s age.

To apply, students must be enrolled at a Long Beach Unified school or a Long Beach college, commit to a healthy and clean lifestyle, and practice safe driving habits.

After the first 16 students are chosen, Carter plans to offer the Aiden Tai Gossage membership indefinitely, allowing anyone who meets the criteria to pay only $1 to join the gym.

“We always want them to mention Aiden’s name to keep his message alive,” Carter said. “As long as we’re open, they’ll always be able to join for $1.”

Anytime Fitness will open on Oct. 30. Anyone who thinks they meet the criteria for the membership program is asked to contact Lily Gossage at [email protected] for an application.