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ACS Imagine Ball Honoree

Ricky Busey of Caesars

March 20, 2019

Ricky Busey is still battling the same disease that took his mother when he was three years old. “In my mind she didn’t die of cancer,” said Busey, Vice President of Human Resources for Caesers Entertainment in Tunica, Miss., near Memphis. “From a child’s memory, she was there and then she was gone. We weren’t talking early detection then and her doctor wasn’t looking for it.”


 Greg Broy

ACS to honor Ricky Busey of Caesars at March 30 Imagine Ball

Fast forward 50 years and Busey had to utter the words himself, ‘I have cancer.’ He said, “Those are the three hardest words to repeat ever. Though my battle with cancer was quick and successful, this is a battle we are all fighting. When I was growing up I thought this disease would be gone. No, the battle is not won.”

Busey will be honored at the March 30th Imagine Ball presented by the Memphis office of the American Cancer Society (ACS). Details can be found at Busey has been with Caesars almost 18 years and has directed the donation of more than $5 million in cash and in-kind contributions to charities throughout the Mid-South.

“I’m still in awe that they asked me,” he said. “There are doctors who are curing cancer! I didn’t cure anybody, I’m just a guy helping to fight a battle. For me, it means the journey that I’ve been on, the funds we have raised, the volunteers who’ve been organized, it’s all been for something good.”

He was in his teens before he better understood what cancer was, and how the disease could take someone close to him. It’s a worry he didn’t want his own four children to have when he learned he had prostate cancer Were they going to lose their father? “But I have the best wife on earth,” he said. “Florence said we’re going to beat this. Her support and positive mindset were amazing, and that is what everyone needs when they’re fighting cancer.”

Busey is a big advocate for the American Cancer Society Harrah’s Hope Lodge, which he called the “Statue of Liberty for cancer patients.” Why? He said, “Imagine traveling 100 miles for treatment. You’re in the dark hull of a boat with no one who understands you, and then you wind up at the Hope Lodge. This building is a beacon that says, ‘Hey, I got you,’ with a free room, food, and people going through the same journey.”

The ACS mission of fighting cancer and saving lives has found an important backer in Busey. Whether it’s research happening up the road in Memphis, coordinating local transportation for patients needing rides to cancer treatment, free wigs, or the 24/7 help line and website, something he used during his own cancer diagnosis.

“However you are participating, as a researcher or providing patient support, or talking someone off a ledge because you’ve been there, keep doing it,” said Busey. “This battle is all of our battles — to survive when you have cancer. And it’ll take everything we’ve got: research, fundraising, volunteering, and passion.”


The 2019 Imagine Ball will be presented at the Children’s Museum of Memphis. Details at Tickets are $250 each or $2000 per table. Doors open at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception and music by Nelson & Newman. A silent auction continues until 7:50 p.m. After-dinner entertainment is provided by Bob Nelson & Natchez.

This year’s Imagine Ball is sponsored by Horseshoe Tunica, West Cancer Center, Baptist Memorial Health Care, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, Dr. Thomas & Regina Russell, Kroger, and Empire Food Brokers.



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