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Star-studded Silver & Black Gala brings attention to Raiders Foundation's mental health initiatives

Where in Las Vegas can you find Antonio Pierce singing Motown jams, Anderson .Paak mixing '80s hits at a DJ booth and members of the community coming together to provide awareness to a vital cause?

It all happened at the Raiders Foundation inaugural Silver & Black Gala presented by Intermountain Health last Saturday at The Wynn. The charitable event featured top-tier entertainment and food, as well as items and experiences auctioned off in efforts to raise funds for mental health support in Nevada.

Raiders Owner Mark Davis opened the evening with an impassioned speech.

"When we began our partnership with Las Vegas and the state of Nevada, we made a promise that you'd be getting more than a football team, that you'd be getting an army of former players, current players, Raiderettes, front office staff and the power of the NFL," he said to the room of 1,100 people. "We promised that we'd be working in the community, that on the field wasn't the only thing that we were after."

"We determined that mental health was something that was very important to everybody in this room," Davis continued. "It's something that was not lacking in this community but could be built in a much greater way."

In addition to the proceeds raised for mental health initiatives for the local community, the Raiders Foundation surprised the Legal Aid of Southern Nevada's Resiliency & Justice Center, which provides resources and support for victims of trauma and violent crime, with a check for $500,000. The center, which is in need of expansion, provides services for nearly 200,000 clients across the Las Vegas valley annually.

"It was an incredible evening. There are not too many organizations like the Raiders that recognize mental health," said Barbara Buckley, executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. "With this support, I have no doubt this construction of the center will become a reality."

Las Vegas Raiders President Sandra Douglass Morgan, executive director of the Raiders Foundation Kari Uyehara, board of directors member Larry Delsen, Owner Mark Davis and executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada Barbara Buckley pose for a photo with a check during the inaugural Silver and Black Gala at Wynn Las Vegas.

The Raiders also took time to recognize four people who have made significant contributions in the mental health field in Las Vegas through hard work, dedication and leadership.

Larry and Camille Ruvo of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and Keep Memory Alive were honored with the first Mental Health Commitment to Excellence Award. Together, the Ruvos launched the nation's first and only Alzheimer's prevention program for women and funded an endowed chair to study the health of dementia caregivers. The award was accepted on their behalf by Dr. Dylan Wint.

Bob Brown and Linda Smith of Opportunity Village were honored with the second Mental Health Commitment to Excellence Award for their dedication to fostering community partnerships and raising funds to continue the organization's work in helping individuals with disabilities thrive.

Along with .Paak, performing as DJ Pee .Wee, the lineup of live performances included Grammy Award-winning artists David Foster, Babyface and Andra Day with special appearances by Loren Allred, Katharine McPhee, Jordin Sparks and Pia Toscano. Comedian Michael Yo hosted the evening.

"Any time kids and fans idolize players on the gridiron, they're heroes to them. So, when your heroes say, 'Hey, I go through the same problems you have,' there's a connection to them," Yo said of the Raiders' efforts to address mental health challenges. "Now they know it's ok to come out and talk about my problems and find someone to help me out."

Members of the Raiders front office staff and locker room were also in attendance, including Head Coach Antonio Pierce, President Sandra Douglass Morgan, board of directors member Larry Delsen and quarterback Aidan O'Connell to name a few.

"I played in the league; I've dealt with a lot of players that are good friends of mine that struggle," Pierce said. "Mental health is serious, it's a silent killer.

"I think the key part about it is that it's real. It's something in which you can't physically touch it, but when you can hear about it and see it it's different. I think for the Raiders organization to give back is huge."

Take a look at the best photos from the Las Vegas Raiders Foundation inaugural Silver & Black Gala, an event focused on mental health awareness and fundraising for the Legal Aid of Southern Nevada's Resiliency & Justice Center.

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