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Utah's attorney general and a federal agent who busted drug labs in Utah County will be among the guests Saturday at a Las Vegas fundraiser with actor John Travolta.
Travolta is helping generate money for what's called the Heroes Health Fund, a nationwide program which provides treatment to soldiers and emergency responders who believe they were sickened by exposure to chemicals. The treatment consisting largely of exercise, time in a sauna and a diet of antioxidants has its roots in the Church of Scientology, of which Travolta is a well-known member.
The treatments have been given to Utah police officers who say they were poisoned by the meth labs they investigated and dismantled. Ninety-two Utah officers have undergone the treatment under what has been called the Utah Meth Cops Project, said Sandra Lucas, the project's director. It recently changed its name to the Heroes Health Project so it could begin treating firefighters and returning soldiers who say there were sickened by chemical exposure. The project has a clinic in Orem.
The treatment has been criticized by toxicologists and health professionals who say there is no medical evidence the regimen is effective or necessary. Lucas and other supporters counter that the treatment isn't meant to supplant conventional medicine and they have a litany of patients who say the treatment made them feel better.
One of the scheduled speakers at Saturday's event at the Wynn Las Vegas is Tim Chard, an agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who was assigned to a Utah County task force which busted meth labs. Chard says the detoxification treatment improved his health.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who is attending the Las Vegas fundraiser, met with officials at the Pentagon about 18 months ago and spoke with National Guard officials in Utah who encouraged him to begin trying the program on veterans instead of active-duty military.
"The Army is a huge bureaucracy," he said.
Shurtleff said they are trying to make the program available without government funding.
The treatment costs $5,200 per person, Lucas said. Saturday's event consists of a reception and banquet. Lucas didn't know how much money raised Saturday will go to Utah residents.
"It really depends upon the need and how many people we need to get through," Lucas said.
"Law and Order" star Vincent D'Onofrio was in Utah last week for a fundraiser for the Heroes Health Project as well.
Robert Gehrke contributed to this report.
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