Tag Archives: philanthropy

Alicia Keys Rescues Unemployed

Alicia Keys is tackling the unemployment epidemic, one fan at a time.  On April 6 the neo-soul singer-songwriter-philanthropist proudly announced she is partnering with the jobs Web site www.Monster.com to launch her Web site IAAS.com (I Am a Super Woman) and have it fully operational with all the bells and whistles in July. 

Keys is specifically looking for a full-time “head blogger,” and she’s taking applications through May 1. 

So, if you’re in Las Vegas this Saturday, April 9, don’t forget to stop by Keys’ Freedom Tour at Mandalay Bay Event Center, with plenty of resumes in hand– she just may snatch yours blowing in the stiff unemployment wind as she’s singing her message-laden songs. 

Failing this, you need to wait until Keyes is in Portugal to start the European leg of her tour.

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Las Vegas’ Colorful Legend Bob Stupak Dies

The brash, enterprising Las Vegas legend and casino mogul who brought the Stratosphere to the Strip has sadly died.  Bob Stupak, 67, died Friday afternoon from leukemia at Desert Springs Hospital, with his family by his side. 

Stupak accomplished a lot of things in life and met a lot of people over the years since coming to Vegas in 1971, and on Friday night, friends remembered a man they called a legend. 

“I was surprised and stunned,” said Dr. Lonnie Hammargren. 

As word spread of Stupak’s death, the memories of the casino mogul were still very much alive. 

“Bob had ideas and did things that people wouldn’t do,” Hammargren said. 

Perhaps no one has more memorabilia in one place than former Lt. Gov. Hammargren. His backyard is a lasting legacy to Stupak’s creations, including a model space ship that graced the top of Stupak’s Vegas World in the late ‘70s. 

 “He loved to rock the boat,” said Howard Schwartz. Schwartz met Stupak in the early ‘80s while working at the Gambler’s Book Shop. “He came into the store, and he always had questions about new games or something innovative he wanted to try,” Schwartz said. 

That innovative spirit led Stupak to build what still is the tallest structure in Las Vegas — the 1,149-foot-tall Stratosphere — in 1996. 

The Stratosphere seemed a metaphor for all of Stupak’s life struggles: Its construction was stalled by a dramatic fire high in its pedestal that rained embers onto the street, and three months after its 1996 opening — and a year after he nearly died in a motorcycle crash — he resigned as chairman as the property was falling into bankruptcy. 

It was after that when he pitched his Titanic casino, which Las Vegas city officials promptly rejected. 

Stupak’s bickering with city and county politicians, and his contention that he could do a better job, led to several blustery runs for public office and a stint at publishing his own maverick weekly newspaper, the now defunct Las Vegas Bullet.

In his inaugural run for mayor in 1987, he sent gift fruit baskets to potential voters. Stupak also financed the unsuccessful Las Vegas City Council campaigns of his daughter Nicole in 1991 and his son, Nevada, in 1999. 

Stupak also was credited with helping to get his then nurse-turned-girlfriend, Janet Moncrief, elected to Las Vegas City Council in 2003. She wound up being the only council member ever to be recalled from office. Stupak tossed his hat into the political arena for the last time in 2006, making a run for lieutenant governor of Nevada. He finished third, garnering 17 percent of the statewide vote. 

In the late 1990s Stupak began helping charitable causes through his foundation, including opening a community center in one of the poorest areas of town. 

For his philanthropic efforts, the Las Vegas City Council on Feb. 23, 1996, issued a proclamation citing Stupak for his “valuable pioneering efforts” and “his outstanding generosity … in answering the call of children, the homeless and the underprivileged.” 

In more recent years, a seemingly mellower Stupak kept a much lower profile, content to play in high stakes poker games at the Bellagio and other major Strip resort card rooms and shirking the limelight he once sought with much fervor. He also was seen occasionally on televised poker events, including a final table during the first season of the World Poker Tour. 

Streetwise and poker-savvy, abrasive and ambitious, Bob Stupak was always the ultimate Las Vegas gambler and huckster, always pushing the envelope if it would bring him publicity. 

Always the independent (his nickname was “the Polish Maverick”), he was more aggravating than charming, but always a topic of conversation, which pleased him. 

“He thought of himself as larger than he was and could often come off as gruff and angry, especially if you disagreed with him,” said Howard Schwartz, operator of the Gamblers Book Shop. “Bob Stupak liked being controversial — he swam upstream. It was almost overkill how he tried to earn people’s respect, which he never truly got. People would smile and shake his hand then talk about him behind his back.” 

Stupak was sometimes the survivor — like after a horrific motorcycle crash that crushed every bone in his face and left him in a coma 14 years ago — and sometimes the loser, running unsuccessfully to be the Las Vegas mayor, a Clark County commissioner and the Nevada lieutenant governor. 

What he did win at was poker. A fixture at the old World Series of Poker at what is now Binion’s, in 1989 he won a $139,500 purse in the $5,000 buy-in no-limit deuce-to-7 world championship. He made the final table of that event three more times during his career. 

“Bob was a decathlon gambler — sports bets, propositions, poker — everything at once,” said Las Vegas oddsmaker and gambler Lem Banker, who gave Stupak the advice to take Cincinnati plus 6 1/2 points in the 1989 Super Bowl against San Francisco for Stupak’s legendary $1 million winning bet. “He had a lot of heart and a lot of brains.” 

Besides children Nevada and Nicole, Stupak is survived by another daughter, Summer; two sisters, Linda Phillips and Nancy O’Conner, and two former wives, Sandra Blumen and Annette Hatton. 

Stupak requested that there not be a funeral service.

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Las Vegas’ ‘Robin Hood’ Reaches Out to Captain Phillips & Crew of Maersk Alabama

In 2008, a Las Vegas gambler came up with a grand plan:  use his special skills at the gaming tables to assist families in need.  He then set up a Web site and chose two families to assist.  Robin Hood 702 (“Robin Hood,” as in taking from the rich casinos and giving to the poor; “702” for the Vegas area code) flew the two families to Vegas in October 2008 and sent them home with more than $20,000 each. robinhood

Now, Robin Hood 702 wants to give to the captain and crew of the Maersk Alabama.  The Maersk Alabama encountered Somalia pirates just a week ago and Captain Phillips was taken hostage in the Maresk’s emergency launch.  

RH702 has offered to bring Captain Phillips, the 19 member crew of the Maersk and each of their significant others for a weekend in Las Vegas.  He’ll pick up the airfare, the hotel room and the cost of all meals. 

“It really touched my heart that someone would sacrifice their own life … for pirates to take him and spare his crew,” Robin Hood 702 said. “It touched my heart…I decided even though Robin Hood 702 is about helping people in financial crisis, I wanted to do something special for these people too.” 

Robin Hood 702 hides his good deeds behind the cover of a secret identify in order to keep the focus on the deed and not on himself.  This isn’t a celebrity stirring up publicity.  And locals who know the true identify of RH702 can’t say enough about him.  

Barry Dakake, executive chef at the 9 Steak House in the Palms Hotel and Casino, said “… this is what kind of person this guy is. This is coming from him. This ain’t coming from no organization, this is him. Robin Hood is putting this together himself and it’s very unique, very special.” 

But RH702 believes it is Captain Phillips and his crew who are special:  “…I want to recognize them as heroes.”    

Captain Phillips may be reunited with his family today.

Welcome to Vegas, Maersk Alabama!  Courtesy of the one, the only. . . Robin Hood 702 (please click on link).

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Cerda’s Enjoy New Las Vegas Home from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

The Cerda family in Las Vegas woke up the morning of March 10 to a call from Ty Pennington and the crew from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and on March 19, they went to sleep in a completely rebuilt, environmentally friendly home designed around the special needs of their children. cerda

While Wright Custom Home/Wright Engineers and more than 500 volunteers were demolishing and then framing out a new house in northwest Las Vegas, the Cerda’s were relaxing in Maui and trying to adjust to the change in their future.  Occasional video showed them limited progress on the building and they had no idea what the final structure would look like. 

After exiting the limo that whisked them home from McCarran International Airport, Chuck Cerda kissed the Extreme Makeover bus.  Surrounded by family, friends and well wishers, the Cerda family shouted “Move that bus!” and for the first time, saw their new two story home in Las Vegas. 

The Cerda’s children, Molly and Maggie, both suffer from Combined Immune Deficiency Disease (CIDD) which makes them more susceptible to lung and upper respiratory infections.  Because of their condition, the girls have limited contact outside the home that makes it even more important that the house be in pristine condition.  The HVAC system will filter the air better than a standard home heating/cooling system.  An advantage that was noticeable soon after entering the residence when Terri Cerda realized her daughter Molly wasn’t having breathing difficulties and didn’t require a nebulizer treatment. 

In addition to the valley volunteers that helped to build the new house, many local businesses contributed build related or maintenance assistance.  Walker Furniture donated furniture for the main rooms; Alarmco donated security services; Freedom Exterminators gave pest control treatments; and The Soroptimist International of Metropolitan Las Vegas provided a musical touch, donating oboes, a flute and $2,000 worth of music lessons for the girls. The four Las Vegas Raising Cane’s restaurants encouraged customers to donate a dollar to every ticket and gave the funds directly to the family to assist with ongoing expenses. 

However it wasn’t just the Cerda family who benefited during the home build.   The United Blood Services bloodmobile parked at the spectator site and visitors and volunteers took the opportunity to donate to the Vegas valley blood bank.  And the Three Square food distribution center in Las Vegas was the recipient of a non-perishable food collection also conducted at the spectator site. 

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition currently plans to air the Cerda family episode on May 10.  The television series airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV channel 13.

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