Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 | 6 p.m.
“Iron Chef” winner Kerry Simon is back home after his first week of stem-cell treatments at the Mayo Clinic. He had an emotional homecoming with his restaurant partner Elizabeth Blau and Europe’s leading Multiple Systems Atrophy scientist, Dr. Gregor Wenning from Austria, who had been meeting with Kerry’s physician, Dr. Ryan Walsh from the downtown Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
Kerry underwent two days of stem-cell injections at the base of his spine that had been harvested from him in a December visit to Mayo in Rochester, Minn. He told me they were “exhausting and painful” and that his return to Las Vegas over the weekend was delayed a day while fighting a low-grade fever.
It is unknown if the treatments will benefit him in the crippling disease for which there is no cure or treatment. He will return to Minnesota in March for two months of additional stem-cell surgeries and clinical trials.
First up, though, is his celebrity chef fundraiser and rock concert at the Brain Center on Feb. 27. An after-party for the food and music stars will follow at his restaurant Simon in Palms Place. For information and tickets, please go to KeepMemoryAlive.org.
Sammy Hagar, Alice Cooper, Vince Neil and Slash are among the performers, with Oscar-nominated actor and comedian Bill Murray as MC. Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud and Charlie Palmer are among the 15 guest chefs.
Meantime, the Las Vegas hospitality industry is helping Kerry’s fundraiser with auction items that Christian Kohlberg will sell. They include chef dinners from Mario Batali, Thomas Keller and Todd English and celebrity chef restaurant dinners from Guy Fieri, Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck.
Additionally, autographed memorabilia from Mike Tyson, Magic Johnson, Carlos Santana, Graham Nash and Jackson Browne and meet-and-greets with Strip entertainers Criss Angel, Terry Fator and Meat Loaf have been donated.
Music maven Shep Gordon has donated a 10-day travel package for two to the Royal Palaces of India, and George Maloof has arranged an overnight stay in the Fantasy Tower Sky Villa of the Palms with a private box to watch Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty’s show with a backstage meet-and-greet with the star.
Kerry also received an update on the Fight MSA organization that has been created as his foundation. Dr. Elizabeth Walsh, Dr. Wenner, high-technology venture capitalist Lily Shih, investment banker David H. Park and I were at Honey Salt awaiting Kerry’s return in order to help the foundation get started.
Dr. Walsh and Dr. Cummings from Cleveland Clinic have agreed through Larry Ruvo’s Keep Memory Alive organization to add the research and trials for MSA to its continuing work to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and Huntington’s. Dr. Wenner has agreed to provide support from European medical researchers who have been working on MSA.
If all goes as planned, Kerry’s legacy will be to establish the first worldwide MSA organization headquartered here with the mission to find treatments and a cure. Support Kerry’s fight by buying tickets for his Feb. 27 fundraiser at KeepMemoryAlive.org.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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