Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fighting for the future

Muhammad Ali Fights in Vegas

HE’S BEEN CALLED THE GREATEST: Muhammad Ali, nee Cassius Clay was one Hell of a boxer. He fought in the ring and was excoriated outside the ring especially in during his early career. The brash young man had the audacity to have an in-you-face, arrogant style that he backed up with victories wrapped in poetic predictions. He was an amazing boxer and has since become an icon. Last night he came to Las Vegas to fight for the eighth time. But this time the fight was against crippling, vicious, debilitating opponents.

A BIT OF HISTORY: Las Vegas is a relatively young town. When my wife’s family arrived here from Illinois the population was less than the number of fans who can be seated in a college football arena. Services of many types were limited so when one of her classmate’s father began to show signs of Alzheimer’s the family took him out of state for treatment. The father passed away from the disease and the son vowed to provide a research center to attend victims and their caregivers. Thus the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health was conceived.

LARRY RUVO’S MISSION: Larry Ruvo, the Las Vegas High School alum and son of Lou Ruvo, was not sure what to do to help those in need of attention so he gathered a group of local Las Vegas business leaders and passed the hat. He then phoned the National Alzheimer’s Association and asked how the funds could best utilized. They suggested that he provide a means locally that could attend patients of the disease. Larry found land, convinced Frank Gehry, one of the world’s premier architects to design a building, and began construction in 2006. Patients were seen beginning in 2009 and was expanded to address various neurological diseases. He partnered with the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic and the result is the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Located in downtown Las Vegas on what used to be the railroad yards the Center provides treatment and research for suffers of neurodegenerative and neuromuscular illnesses.

The Center has drawn giants in the field and has begun research on the effects of boxing and other brain injury events on the brain. They are working on the development of a mouthpiece that will record the severity of blows to the head and transmit the data instantly. Larry Ruvo has raised funds to get the Center to the place it currently is, but maintenance of the facility is expensive. To help supplement the funding he holds an annual fundraiser called Power of Love Gala. Stars locally and from around the world pitch in and help with the fundraising. This year, on the occasion of the 70th birthday of Muhammad Ali, whose physical prowess has been ravished by Parkinson’s disease, The Power of Love Gala included a celebration of Ali’s 70th birthday. The event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was a benefit for Keep Memory Alive, the fundraising arm of the Clinic as well as the Muhammad Ali Center, a cultural and educational complex in Louisville. ABC will broadcast the event at 2:00 pm on February 25 and ESPN2 will rebroadcast it later that evening.

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center in Las Vegas treats illnesses such as the one that has virtually silenced the Champ, once known as “The Louisville Lip” for his quips, providing care for patients with dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s Disease, and Lou Gherig’s disease (multiple sclerosis).

In addition to Mr. Ali and his wife, other celebrity guests included Larry King, Stevie Wonder, Samuel . Jackson, Snoop Dog, Cee Lo Green, Jim Brown, Anthony Hopkins, Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, Ken Norton, Roberto Duran, Earnie Shavers, Leon Spinks, Ray “Boob-Boom” Mancini, and Lenny Kravitz. Other attendees included David Beckham, Ken Jeong, Siegfried and Roy, Andre Agassi and Steffie Graf, Dave Koz, James Gandolfi. Robin Leach was the MC.

WORLDWIDE AND LOCAL: Cleveland Clinic is known worldwide and has locations in three states and the Middle East. The Center in Las Vegas estimates that 80% of the 4,500 patients treated to date were Las Vegas locals. The Ruvo Center is conducting more Alzheimer’s clinical trials than any other institution in the country. Such research is crucial as one in eight people beyond age 65 will develop Alzheimer’s and one in two over age 85 will be so afflicted.

A history and photos of the Center can be found on Wikipedia at:

A little blogging music Maestro… Crystal Method – “Keep Hope Alive.”

Dr. Forgot

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