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October 20, 2014

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Guest Columnist:

BMX and reality-TV star Ricardo Laguna: Where I get to shine and show love to Las Vegas

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Scott Harrison/Retna/HarrisonPhotos.com

Chippendales guest Ricardo Laguna, second from right, at the Rio on Jan. 5, 2012. Jaymes Vaughan, James Davis and Chaun Thomas are with Laguna.

Ricardo Laguna Hosts Jump for Joy Foundation

BMX pro Ricardo Laguna performs a jump trick during the Jump for Joy BMX fundraiser in front of InsertCoin(s) Videolounge Gamebar, Monday Sept. 3, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Chippendales Guest Ricardo Laguna

Chippendales guest Ricardo Laguna at the Rio on Jan. 5, 2012. Launch slideshow »
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Ricardo Laguna.

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2013 Miss Nevada USA Hilary Billings and Ricardo Laguna at Terry Fator’s fifth-anniversary celebration Friday, March 7, 2014, at the Mirage.

As Robin Leach winds down his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — with a visit to Pisa and its Leaning Tower, plus, a stop in fashionable Milan — many of our Strip personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with Alfredo Sandoval at his new restaurant Mercadito at Red Rock Resort and BMX stunt racer and reality-TV star Ricardo Laguna. Here is heartthrob Ricardo.

Me the new Mr. Las Vegas?!

OK, maybe I am not the New Mr. Las Vegas (I think George Wallace already claimed that title!), but I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of some amazing events in the city over the years, which led to me putting together my own event this year.

People outside Las Vegas often say we lack culture and community, and I’m here to tell them, based on personal experience, that it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Sure, I’ve oiled up with the guys from Chippendales at the Rio to perform in front of hundreds of screaming ladies, and I’ve hosted morning radio shows that began with tequila shots at 8 (and are kind of blurry to remember!), but those are just a couple perks added to a packed yearly schedule of benefits, events and appearances in fabulous Sin City.

Each year, I am able to build the tallest dirt course in the United States for Extreme Thing, the largest sports and music festival in Nevada with tens of thousands of attendees enjoying the show. I judge many events, including Miss Nevada, Nuestra Belleza and Models for Mutts hosted by Land Rover of Las Vegas benefiting the Nevada SPCA.

Those are my favorite events — the kinds where we get to give back. Hometown Heroes, the After Christmas Helmet Giveaway and Ben and Jerry’s Free Cone Day are a few of the ones I look forward to each year. This is where I get to shine and show love to the city of Las Vegas.

There are a lot of great things in Las Vegas, and I am grateful to be a part of all the action. You never know in this town when meeting someone will lead to something huge. I’ve had two amazing honors that have come from the time I spend with the people of Las Vegas.

I had the honor of driving the vice president to the airport, which will be the first and last time that I am allowed to run all red lights. And just recently North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee named me an honoree citizen of North Las Vegas.

All these events are a privilege, and I do not do this to be Mr. Las Vegas. I am just a guy who rides little kids’ bikes for a living and who has a dream to make a positive impact in the community. So it really was a no-brainer when an opportunity to have my own festival was brought to the table.

It started with one thought and two friends who knew that they could make a difference in the Latino community. From that spark, Angel Escamilla, Artem Khomyakov and I created the first Hispanic Festival for the City of Las Vegas.

Following months of hard work, the Celebrando Hispanic Festival took place Saturday, June 28, at Clark County Amphitheater and was more than just a traditional festival. It was about giving back and celebrating culture.

Celebrando included eight nonprofits such as Three Square, Mi Familia Vota, Boys and Girls Club and Jump for Joy as part of the event. Proceeds from ticket sales went to these fabulous organizations, and attendees brought food donations, which further benefited Three Square.

Many events occur in Las Vegas, as they should since it is after all the capital of fun, but throughout the year it’s the spotlight on those that find a balance between fun and giving that truly are the bright neon lights of the city.

Celebrando provided a day out for the entire family with food, drinks, entertainment and a kids’ zone that had all the youngsters worn out and ready for bed by the end of the day! It was more than a day out; it was a celebration of culture.

Who would have thought that riding a bike would lead to all of this? Thank you, Las Vegas!

Be sure to read our other guest column today with chef owner Alfredo Sandoval of Mercadito at Red Rock Resort, and on Thursday it’s Las Vegas bandleader Louis Prima Jr. and Las Vegas artist Michael Godard.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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