A gift that keeps on ringing and ringing

Sep 16, 2003 9:43 AM

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Ron Terry, owner of Racing Images, a Las Vegas company that provides satellite uplinking, was surprised the other day when his phone rang and a sultry voice named Ginger from Oklahoma wished him a happy birthday. A short way into the conversation, Ron realized he had no idea who the creature was. Further conversation revealed that a billboard touting his birthday, complete with photo and phone number, was perched at the corner of Tropicana and Koval avenues.

Over the next three days more than 300 well-wishers — all strangers — called to wish happy birthday.

"What was interesting," said Ron, "is that every one of them felt they needed to tell me a story. Nobody just called and said ”˜happy birthday’ and hung up. I always got the full explanation of where they were, what they were doing and where they were going. It was a lot of fun. I even got a call from a girl at one of those adult places. She invited me down for a lap dance."

To protect his privacy, Ron’s billboard friends used a temporary number from the local phone company. Then they forwarded that number to his home, office or cell phone to make sure all the calls got through to him personally.

"I have to admit, it’s the most unique gift I ever received," Ron added.

STARS SHINE ON FIGHT NIGHT: The usual plethora of "beautiful people" that comes with a big Vegas fight turned out for the Oscar de la Hoya title match with Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand last Saturday. Making sure they were seen by everyone were Tiger Woods, Andre Agassi, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, Lennox Lewis, Tommy Hearns, Roy Jones, Jr., Christina Aguilera — well, you get the picture.

The crowed actually turned ugly when renowned ring announcer Michael Buffer matter of factly announced "Kobe Bryant" which attracted a cascade of "Boo’s" from the arena’s rafters. Even Tommy Lasorda was treated better.

If that’s a sample of what Kobe is in for when facing arena crowds, his upcoming NBA season is going to be a long and tumultuous one.

The MGM Grand is to be commended for its tribute to U.S. Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson, the American POW soldier who was rescued in Iraq. It’s nice to see there are still heroes left to admire!

IT WON’T BE THE SAME: We’re talking about the Gaming Expo this week where, as in past years, GamingToday will have a booth in the exhibit hall. Problem is our old friend, Joe McKeever won’t be there to greet the hundreds of visitors who usually stop by to say hello.

Joe, a close friend and Penn State classmate, has been trekking from Philadelphia each year to join the GT staff in manning the booth and distributing the special gaming issue that annually depicts convention activities.

A few weeks ago, Joe was told that he probably would need angioplasty surgery to open up a little arterial blockage. But at a follow-up doctor’s visit, he was told that the problem was more serious than originally thought and he would require quadruple bypass surgery.

The good news is that he is recuperating beautifully and will soon be up to another Las Vegas visit. The bad news is that it won’t be this week for the G2E.

So, Joe, we’ll miss you this year but we look forward to having you here in 2004.

LET’S RING ONE UP FOR STATIONS! Our hats are off to Station Casinos and the Fertitta family for their continued support of the Assistance League of Las Vegas’ Operation School Bell program. Station contributed $50,000 this month, which will be used to help underprivileged kids throughout southern Nevada.

Operation School Bell will use the funding to provide clothing for homeless and helpless kids, who are often stunted emotionally because of the lack of proper clothing.

Station’s Caring for our Community program began in 2001, and every other month the company donates $50,000 and TV and print ads to a local non-profit organization.