At Power of Love’s 2011 afterparty, “bubble girls” descended from the ceiling to pour Dom Perignon for guests.
In its 20 years of raising money to treat patients with neurodegenerative diseases and assist their caretakers, Keep Memory Alive’s Power of Love gala draws a star-studded roster of attendees. This year, the event celebrates Tony Bennett’s 90th—expect surprise performances.
KMA has accomplished such feats as luring Celine Dion out of retirement to sing with Andrea Bocelli and bringing together Quincy Jones and Sir Michael Caine for their 80th birthdays. But the gala, which will attract more than 1,600 guests this year—always benefiting the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health—wasn’t always a massive affair, explains Camille Ruvo, co-founder of KMA with her husband, Larry. “It started with a small celebration of life for my father-in-law, Lou [who had died the prior year of Alzheimer’s] upstairs at Spago,” she explains. “Jean Paul DeJoria [founder of Paul Mitchell Systems] dropped by our table, and on hearing why we were there, pledged $5,000 to Alzheimer’s research.” An idea was born.
Once the party outgrew Spago and moved to Postrio—where Wolfgang Puck continued to donate staff and food—“It became this great dinner party where spontaneous auctions were happening,” she explains. One memorable auction item, in 2003, was a session with sexpert Dr. Ruth Westheimer. More recently, Cindy Crawford threw in her homemade apple pie to a retreat she and husband Rande Gerber offered to their vacation home in Cabo.
The highlights don’t end there: In 2008, Michael Bublé refused his entertainment fee, donating it back to KMA. The event’s 10th anniversary, catered by Puck, Emeril Lagasse, and Nobu Matsuhisa, raised $22 million, the largest single-night fundraising figure to date (assisted by the $700,000 sale of two custom Frank Gehry doghouses). The return of Siegfried and Roy in 2009 to perform with their tigers marked their first and last performance since Roy’s disastrous attack.
Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday included Stevie Wonder singing “Happy Birthday” and LL Cool J joined onstage by Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, and Tommy “Hitman” Hearns for “Mama Said Knock You Out.” In 2014, guests were treated to a duet between Gloria Estefan and Carole King. Plus: A black bustier-clad Rita Moreno made her way from the stage to shimmy for good sport Steve Wynn. Ruvo demurs when asked how she and Larry are able to attract such serious wattage each year. “This is about getting the message out the old-fashioned way—by talking to anyone we can. And everyone has been touched in some way by these diseases.” May 21; 702-263-9797