On Saturday, February 18, more than 1,400 guests came to the MGM Grand Garden Arena to attend the 26th annual Power of Love® gala benefiting Keep Memory Alive, the fundraising arm of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
Over the course of the evening, which commenced with a Dom Pérignon reception and silent auction, followed by a dinner by chefs Tal Ronnen and Wolfgang Puck, a live auction, and concluded with a fantastic all-star music jam, guests celebrated the evening’s honorees. A pair of Community Leadership Awards were bestowed upon Eloise and Jean Paul DeJoria, commemorating their longtime support of the organization (Jean Paul having written the first check to what would eventually become Keep Memory Alive. It's a great story, and really deserves its own article; so look for that in the future...).
A moving tribute to the late David Humm followed—the ‘original Las Vegas Raider,’ Humm was a Las Vegan who played for the Raiders and succumbed to multiple sclerosis in 2018—during which Humm’s daughter, Courtney (his primary caregiver), and his brother, Tom, were brought out. Raiders owner Mark Davis (on behalf of the Raiders Foundation) made a $1 million donation to create the David Humm Endowed Chair for MS; which was immediately followed by the announcement that the Ruvo family would match the donation, making a total of $2 million given to funding MS research as well as treatment and support of patients and caregivers.
Chef Tal Ronnen presented a vegan appetizer course (which I dubbed the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gluten” course). This was followed by a stunning entrée by Chef Wolfgang Puck (who’s been with the organization since that first dinner—a celebration of Lou Ruvo’s life—in the PDR at Spago Las Vegas), in the form of a sensational Chicken Pot Pie with Black Truffles. Toques-off to the chefs and servers, because it is not easy to present a dish like this to 1,400+ people, let alone to do so in such a way that everyone is able to savor the light and flakey crust, succulent chicken, and truffles so fresh they might as well have been shaved tableside!
The live auction was a smashing success, and went by at a speedy clip, raising millions as bidders snapped up multiple yacht vacations, a tour of the world via private jet, a sunset cruise with Sammy Hagar, a dinner with Jon Bon Jovi, and more.
And then came the entertainment. Under longtime Power of Love musical director Greg Phillinganes, accompanied by his band, GPX (the Greg Phillinganes Xperience), the lineup included comedian Nikki Glaser (“I’ve heard that donating money makes your penis bigger and your vagina tighter!”), Sammy Hagar (who served as a de facto emcee, and performed, both solo as well as with a number of the other artists), the iconic Sam Moore of Sam & Dave (who not only sang “Soul Man” as a duet with Hagar, but performed a cover of “Imagine” by John Lennon that found all of us at the foot of the stage wiping tears from our eyes), Chad Kroeger of Nickelback (who sang his band’s signature song, “How You Remind Me,” which Billboard rated the number one rock song of the 2000s), shock/glam rock maestro, Alice Cooper (who performed his classic rock staple, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”), and Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon (who performed his band’s chart-topping, platinum-certified soft-rock power-ballad, “Keep On Loving You”). At this point, things really heated up, when Cronin was joined onstage by Hagar, and an absurdly youthful-looking Rick Springfield (who all sang Hagar’s 1978 single ‘I’ll Do Anything for You” that had been a Top 10 hit for Springfield when he covered it in 1981, after which Springfield remained to perform “Jessie’s Girl,” the song for which he won his Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance). Next, the incomparable John Mayer took the stage and, despite having a cold, treated us to his guitar virtuosity while performing “Last Train Home” and “Gravity” (the latter of these having won him his seventh Grammy Award). Mayer then remained on the stage, where he accompanied Michael McDonald in a jam-tastic rendition of the Doobie Brothers’ soulful Grammy-nominated hit, “Minute by Minute,” before the night’s entire lineup returned to the stage where, as the evening’s finale, McDonald led them all in performing “Takin’ It to the Streets” (the first song he wrote for the Doobie Brothers on which he sang vocals).
After this stirring finale, those guests who were still standing upright danced until the wee hours to the dulcet discoreography of DJ88, while noshing on Tempura Prawns, Pizza, and Buffalo Chicken Sliders.
I’d like to issue a special note of congratulations to Anna Robins, Dawn Russi, and everyone at Keep Memory Alive, MGM Resorts International, and the OneSeven Agency, who executed this massive event so deftly. To wit, what has previously been seen as a very long, albeit always fun evening (“It’s a marathon, not a sprint!”), went by especially smoothly, with nary a lull. And that, my friends, is how we do it, in fabulous Las Vegas!
Keep Memory Alive’s 26th annual Power of Love® gala
MGM Grand Garden Arena
Saturday, February 18
Click HERE for info
Get into it!