Keep Memory Alive raises funds for Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

Country star Blake Shelton recognized for charitable efforts at annual event

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by Mary Chapman |

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A host of entertainers and other celebrities turned out for the 27th annual Power of Love gala to celebrate country music star Blake Shelton and support the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

Held at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the event was presented by Keep Memory Alive, an organization that raises funds through special events and community partnerships for the center at Cleveland Clinic Nevada.

Part of the clinic’s philanthropy department, the organization works to raise awareness and funds to fight neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and memory disorders of all kinds, according to a press release.

Many people with Parkinson’s have issues with mental health and cognition that may include problems with memory. Parkinson’s patients also have a six times higher chance of developing dementia.

Entertainers performing at the star-studded affair included Shelton’s wife, singer Gwen Stefani, as well as Jay Allen, Colbie Caillat, Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Grammer, Mickey Guyton, Gary LeVox, Cassadee Pope, and Jay Pharaoh. The gala included silent and live auctions, and a gourmet dinner for about 1,500 attendees was prepared by prominent chefs Wolfgang Puck and Evan Funke.

Other notable guests included Maria Shriver, founder of the Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center. Shriver is also chief visionary and strategic advisor for The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center at Cleveland Clinic, touted as the first such center in the U.S. designed specifically for women.

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Celebrating ‘generosity’

At the event, Camille Ruvo, co-founder of Keep Memory Alive along with Larry Ruvo, paid homage to patient caregivers.

“Before there is a cure, there is a caregiver,” Ruvo told the crowd. “Until the cure, there is a caregiver. A topic we rarely think about, yet it is more prevalent than we realize. Each day at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, a patient is diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease such as [Alzheimer’s], Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. And standing beside them facing this life changing reality is a caregiver.”

Larry Ruvo updated the audience on the center’s progress since its opening 15 years ago. Highlights included the establishment of Nevada’s first and sole Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, the state’s only National Multiple Sclerosis Society Center for comprehensive care, and a Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s.

The Ruvos presented Shelton with the Lou Ruvo Philanthropic Award for his charitable efforts, saying the entertainer lived “a life of true generosity and giving so freely to so many causes.”

Country singer Allen sang “Blank Stares,” his hit song inspired by his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, and comedian Jay Pharoah injected some levity into the evening before performers offered a mix of original songs and renditions of Shelton’s hits.

Nearly every celebrity at the gala, including Meredith Marks, Crystal Minkoff, Deniece Williams, and Pope, spoke of the “profound” impact of brain disease in their family.

Shelton, who took to the stage to perform a number of hits, was joined by Stefani for the closing duet, “Nobody But You.”

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which opened in 2009, is headquartered in Las Vegas and has locations in Cleveland and Weston, Florida.