Photography by Vince Bucci
The 2015 Visionary Ball, benefiting the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery, was held October 29, 2015, at the Beverly Wilshire hotel. Hosted by television personality Jeff Probst, the annual event raised more than $3 million, which will help to increase the pace of discovery of new therapies for rare and complex neurological disorders.
Actress and producer Roma Downey and Emmy-winning producer Mark Burnett received the Visionary Award at the event. Variety recognized the married couple as "trailblazers" and listed Downey as among the 100 Most Powerful Women in Hollywood. The Hollywood Reporter listed Burnett as No. 1 on their Reality TV Power List, and TIME magazine named him one of the world's most influential people. When Cameron, Burnett's son by his previous wife, became ill, he and Downey were out of the country with their children while filming. Cameron was admitted to a local hospital but did not improve and was flown back to Los Angeles, where he was diagnosed with a neurocytoma, a type of neuroendocrine tumor. Committed to getting Cameron the best possible treatment, Downey and Burnett had Cameron admitted to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, the only hospital on the West Coast dedicated to research in this area. Cameron, now thriving and enjoying life with his family, received this year's Courage Award.
Dr. Melvin Cheatham, a member of the UCLA Neurosurgery Advisory Board, was honored with the Medical Visionary Award. In addition to serving as past president of the California State Neurosurgical Society and past president of the Western Neurosurgical Society, two organizations of the top neurosurgeons in the United States and Canada, Dr. Cheatham, along with his wife Sylvia, a surgical nurse, has devoted himself to full-time medical-relief work in developing and war-torn countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Rwanda, The Congo, Sudan, South Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, the former Soviet Union and North Korea, a country Dr. Cheatham has visited 26 times.
A star in the FX series Fargo, actor and stand-up comedian Brad Garrett accepted the Rodney Respect Award. He has won three Emmys and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his role as Robert Barone on the television series Everybody Loves Raymond. Following in the footsteps of Rodney Dangerfield, who founded the comedy nightclub Dangerfield's in New York, Garrett recently opened his own comedy club at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Performances by singer-songwriters Pharrell Williams and Chris Martin of Coldplay were highlights of the event, along with patient testimonials.
For more information, contact Karen Colimore at: (310) 267-0496
For more information about the Visionary Ball, go to: neurosurgery.ucla.edu/visionary-ball