Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 | 2 a.m.
The power of love in Las Vegas is a reason for celebration.
Las Vegas has meant many things to the many hundreds of millions of visitors who have made our city the Entertainment and Fun Capital of the World. That will not change, even though we have been going through a hard patch, because our history has proven our ability to transform ourselves from one generation to another.
Anyone, anywhere is likely to tell you that Las Vegas is either on their bucket list or a place they’ve already visited and look forward to revisiting. That feeling is universal, and it is why our next success story is just around the corner.
That’s how we’re viewed by the outside world. From the inside, we’re viewed a different way.
Far more important than what we do for those who come for just a few days is what we do for our neighbors and friends. How we live our lives as a community; how we improve this place we call home — that is how we should judge ourselves.
I am reminded of two very different undertakings in Las Vegas that provide meaning to the word community. Each one shows us how we value the people who live, work and dream here.
The first major achievement is transformational in its scope and in its execution. The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is relatively new to Las Vegas even though it had its beginnings more than 60 years ago when Lou and Angie Ruvo moved here with their young son, Larry.
Today, the Ruvo Brain Center may be the No. 1 place on the planet where people suffering from diseases of the brain like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and multiple sclerosis can go to get cutting-edge treatment. It is also the place where many of us believe the research conducted within its walls will provide the cures for these dreaded diseases.
Without question, the Ruvo Center has put Las Vegas on the medical map as a world-class medical institution.
And the Ruvos’ son, Larry, has grown up to not only be my friend but a fundraising and entertainment impresario par excellence. By that I mean he has dreamed it, raised the money for it and built the Lou Ruvo Center (with much help from his many friends) as though his life depended on it. Actually, the lives of thousands of Nevadans and millions everywhere depend on the work that is done by the best doctors and researchers in the business.
To help pay for all that good work, Keep Memory Alive has been producing fundraisers. Last year, we thought Larry Ruvo had reached the apex of his fundraising ability when he convinced the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali, to celebrate his 70th birthday in honor of the Ruvo Brain Center.
How could he ever top that?
He found a way. On April 13, Keep Memory Alive will celebrate the 80th birthdays of the incredible Quincy Jones and the incomparable Sir Michael Caine. And they are bringing their friends with them. If you get a ticket to this year’s Power of Love evening, you will see and, very likely, hear from Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Lion (yes, he changed his name), Bono, Carlos Santana, Scarlett Johansson, Will.I.Am and many others.
This will be a show that you shouldn’t miss. There are still tickets available — and even if there aren’t, Larry Ruvo will find a few more to sell — so make the commitment if you can and show the power of love.
Another institution that gives us reason to celebrate is the Las Vegas Sun Summer Camp Fund. Maybe it’s smaller and gets less fanfare than the Ruvo Center, but it’s just as important because it focuses on kids and their dreams.
If you have ever had the privilege of a summer camping experience, you know how it opens the mind and allows youngsters to imagine a life far better than the one they may have at the moment. It often gives that spark that is the measure of difference between success and failure.
The Camp Fund provides a camping experience for children whose families could not otherwise afford the luxury some take for granted. I was reminded of the good that the Camp Fund does by this letter from “Kathy,” who wrote:
“Many years ago, I was a single mom of three young children. With no child support, I struggled for years to support my children, pay my house payments, child care and just get by the best way I could. There was no money for vacations or any of the fun things for any of us.
“Because of the Summer Camp Fund, my kids were able to go to camp a few times. ... I am a retired senior on a fixed income now. This is all I can afford to send, but I want to thank you for this gift you gave to my little family years ago.”
Kathy enclosed what I know was a very sizable donation for her. This is a story that could be repeated every year because there are always so many children who could benefit.
Kathy didn’t tell us how her kids turned out, but I’m certain her words of thanks said it all, especially about the impact that summer camp had on their lives. So if you have a little extra money and are looking for something really good to do with it, please follow Kathy’s wonderful example and give some needy children a shot at a more imaginative and dream-filled future.
By helping the Ruvo Brain Center and a young child yearning to dream bigger, we can show the power of love. The power of a real community. The power of Las Vegas.
Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.