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Spotl ght A publication of Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis

Summer 2014 Issue Because of YOU

INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Dinner With the Stars.........................................Page 3-6 Runway Lights Fashion Show...........................Page 7-9 Mallory and Jenna.................................................Page 10 Help A Variety Kid Day.......................................Page 11 Imo’s for Kids Day.................................................Page 11 Night of the Rising Stars......................................Page 12

From our

Chief Executive Officer Jan Albus with Variety child Selah

Dear Variety Supporters, Every year during Variety Week, I experience moments that take my breath away and remind me of the importance of the great privilege of working for children with disabilities. This year, one of those moments came during Dinner With the Stars, as Harry Connick, Jr. knelt near the front of the Peabody Opera House stage and sang directly to a Variety child named Danielle, who was sitting in the front row with her family. Throughout Variety Week, we focus the spotlight on our children, highlighting all that they have achieved and overcome. But this moment stood out for its unexpectedness. Danielle swelled with joy as she received her personal serenade, and has scarcely stopped talking about it since. It made her feel special, honored and loved all at once. We thank you for passing on this feeling to our children with your generosity throughout Variety Week. This year we raised almost $5 million for more than 14,000 children with disabilities who live in 30 counties throughout Missouri and Illinois. Every time their families come to Variety for assistance — whether it’s for life-enriching therapy, a new piece of equipment or help connecting with medical resources — we will be there. We give thanks to St. John for bringing incredible fashions to our Runway Lights Fashion Show at the Chase Park Plaza. We celebrate our media partners at FOX 2 and KPLR 11 for hosting Help a Variety Kid Day, an all-day call-a-thon that spotlighted the stories of Variety kids. We treasure our long-lasting partnership with Imo’s Pizza, whose Imo’s for Kids Day saw the business donate up to 20% of all its proceeds to Variety. We cheered as the next generation of Variety supporters brought a stellar Night of the Rising Stars concert to the Pageant. And the week’s crown jewel, Dinner With the Stars, brought a New Orleans-style radiance to the Peabody, thanks to underwriting from World Wide Technology and The Steward Family Foundation with additional support from Centene. Because of you, this year’s Variety Week was one of our most successful yet! Your support means the world to us.

Jan Albus Chief Executive Officer


This year we raised almost $5 million for more than 14,000 children with disabilities...




Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis extends its thanks to the entire community for its generosity during Variety Week to help local children with disabilities say, “I CAN!”






Revenue generated from June 1, 2013-May 3, 2014 *Revenue generated from June 1, 2013–May 3, 2014


Lelia Farr was honored as the 2014 Woman of the Year. Pictured above: Variety’s 2013 Woman of the Year Noémi Neidorff, Chairman of the Board Greg Boyce, Lelia & David Farr and Variety child Josie

Tom Voss was honored as the 2014 Man of the Year. Pictured above: Tom & Carol Voss, Chairman of the Board Greg Boyce and Variety child Luke

At this year’s Dinner With the Stars, Variety honored two of its larger-than-life supporters and unexpectedly gained a new one along the way. As Variety’s Man and Woman of the Year, Tom Voss and Lelia Farr represent everything admirable about the St. Louis philanthropic community. Marrying vision with compassion, the two have become integral pillars of Variety’s mission to assist children with disabilities. Taking turns to speak from the Peabody Opera House stage, Voss and Farr shared the inspiration that they receive from Variety kids and families. Adding an exclamation point to the evening was a sparkling performance by Harry Connick, Jr. While on stage, Connick mentioned that he had done his research on Variety and was “blown away.” He backed those words up with generous actions, meeting with several Variety kids and later sending a substantial donation to our cause. Thank you to all who made this incredible night happen!

Photo by Diane Anderson

Jim & Stacey Weddle and Thelma & David Steward

Photo by Diane Anderson


Peter, Monica, Michael & Noémi Neidorff

Lenore Pepper, Bert & Carol Walker, Sam & Marilyn Fox

Mike & Laura Herring and Sharon & Dale Fiehler

Joe Mokwa & Jan Torrissi Mokwa

Lynne & Brooks Parriot

Cindy & Warner Baxter

Fred & Gayle Palmer and Lisa & Greg Boyce

Photo by Diane Anderson

Gold Patron Co-Chairs Steve & Kelly Gross and Emerald Patron Co-Chairs Mary Beth & Jerry Daniels

Variety child Selah, Jan Albus, Jim Byrnes & Ken Page Host Jim Byrnes, Variety CEO Jan Albus and Variety child Selah teamed to host a special equipment giving drive that raised more than $2.5 million! Special equipment for kids with disabilities is the bedrock of what we do at Variety, and we are grateful to all who gave. Steve Crimmins, Jim Lucas, Bill Cooper

All photos credited to ProPhoto STL unless otherwise noted.


Craig & Ann Marr

Laura & Spencer Koch with Thelma & David Steward

Bill & Marsha Rusnack

Photo by Diane Anderson

Nancy & Craig Schnuck

Variety girls Selah, Kaci and Gracie with Harry Connick, Jr. after the show

Photo by Diane Anderson

Jerry & Peggy Ritter


Variety Children’s Chorus performs, “I Am Your Child”.

David Farr & Benjamin Akande

Harry Connick, Jr. and his 14 piece band dazzled a crowd of 2,000 people

Wendy & Jason Brumitt, Tricia & Bryan Voss, Julie & David Catron

Kathy Iversen, Mike Fidler & Penny Pennington

Chad & Chrissy Frazier and Chris & Jessica Kerckhoff

Rodger & Paula Riney and Beth & Paul Stroble

Matt & Bethany Daniels

Paula & Jim David

Gary & Kara Funk, Kelly & Carl Imo


We’ve come to expect head-turning looks on stage at the Runway Lights Fashion Show — and this year’s featured designer St. John certainly brought out its best. But this year we also adored the spring fashions on display from our guests! Hundreds of our favorite St. Louis friends helped Variety to raise tens of thousands of dollars for children with disabilities. Variety Woman Penny Pennington got the crowd fired up for the TherHappy Kids appeal, where the spirit of giving couldn’t have been more apparent as the auctioneer read off paddle after paddle of generous pledge donations. Thank you to all who supported “couture for a cause” this year! Thelma Steward and Kimberly Steward served as Honorary Chair and Runway Event Chair.

Thelma, Mary, Kimberly and Trey Steward

FOX 2’s Sandy Miller and Variety teen Madison

Tom Voss, Pris McDonnell, Veronica McDonnell & Carol Voss


Kelly & Steve Gross in one of the test drive Rolls Royce cars

Variety teen Tori

Joan Berkman & Marilyn Fox

Cathy Vatterott, Paulette Isaac-Savage, Patricia Kopetz

Mike Lefton, Sydney Lefton, Marlene Lefton & Amy Lefton

Back row, Left to Right: Laura Varley, Susan Block, Elke Koch, Lynn Eastin, Karen Pepper Jacoby, Holly Blumeyer, Susan Sparks, Yvonne Trudeaux Front row, Left to Right: Megan Barry, Diane Barrett, Emily Castle, Sandra Ford, Carolyn Grove, GiGi Lombrano, Susan McHaney

Laura, Lisa & Amanda Boyce

Model wearing a dress by St. John

Penny Pennington encourages guests to pledge for Variety’s TherHappy Kids

Variety Children’s Chorus performing a Peter Pan Medley


Rosemary Burgess, Lori Putnam & Tammy Pryor St. John Vice President of Design Albino Riganello with Variety teen Mallory

Kimberly & Thelma Steward, Runway Event & Honorary Chair

Dr. Henry & Belma Givens

Leisha Gordan and Darlene Y. Sowell

Laura & Lauren Herring


Gina Borchert & Cheri Fromm

Fashion Show Finale - Designs by St. John

Mary & Kate Doehring

Kelly, Margie & Carol Imo


For Powerkid Mallory, this was an especially emotional occasion.


At the Runway Lights Fashion Show, professional models weren’t the only ones who got to show off the latest couture. Variety’s Ameren PowerKids also got in on the show, sporting both St. John fashions and hi-tech power wheelchairs. For PowerKid Mallory, this was an especially emotional occasion. At 20, Mallory is close to aging out of the Variety program, which works with children from infancy until age 21. She wouldn’t have many more big events to attend as an official Variety child. And yet Mallory understood that this wasn’t just about her. After her turn on the runway, Mallory helped to shepherd out Jenna, a three-yearold who struggles with shyness. Over the past year, she and Jenna have formed a special and loving bond. Once they get together, the two are inseparable, often joined by held hands.

In this case, that friendship became Jenna’s strength. No one was certain how she would handle the glare of the spotlight, but with Mallory beside her, she took to the runway undaunted. In rehearsal, Mallory had accompanied Jenna all the way up and down the runway like a mother duck leading her young. But this time, Mallory sensed that Jenna was ready to fly on her own. Halfway up the runway, Mallory pulled to a stop and let Jenna journey the rest of the way. The audience rose to its feet in a standing ovation. We are grateful for every penny raised during the Runway Lights Fashion Show. But it was moments like this one — with Variety kids taking bold new steps toward independence and self-discovery — that were truly priceless.


AT CARDINALS STADIUM Drew had practiced for weeks in the backyard with his dad and brother. Throwing, catching, chasing after balls that they’d tossed too hard. All the training was in preparation for his big moment: Variety had tagged the 8-year-old as its starting pitcher for Variety Week. Thanks to Bank of America and the St. Louis Cardinals, Drew would be throwing the first pitch of the Cards’ game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 27.

Variety child Drew tosses out the first pitch at Cardinals Busch Stadium with his dad John

When the time came to deliver, Drew made no mistake, hurling an arcing pitch toward Cardinals reliever Eric Fornataro. Afterward, Drew’s family and several other Variety families got to watch the game from luxury suites provided by Bank of America and Peabody Energy! 10

FOX 2 / KPLR 11

HELP A VARIETY KID DAY The best part about coming to work at Variety every day? The kids, no doubt about it. They’re dynamos packed with pure personality. Even faced with the added hurdles that come from living with a physical or developmental disability, they bring a natural joy to the room that is as uplifting as it is infectious.

Volunteers from Edward Jones Associates helped to field donation calls from the public. Here, they are pictured with Variety child Nick.

During Help a Variety Kid Day, St. Louis got a daylong dose of that special energy. A host of Variety kids appeared on FOX 2 and KPLR 11 throughout the day as part of a televised call-a-thon that raised more than $5,200 to support Variety programs. Each kid got some face time with a FOX or KPLR personality, while volunteers from Edward Jones Associates helped to field donation calls from the public.

PHOTOS: LEFT: Variety child Dominic got a VIP tour of the FOX 2/KPLR11 studio from Melanie Moon RIGHT: Variety child MacKenzie with Christine Buck of KPLR 11

IMO’S FOR KIDS DAY Variety kid Anthony, 4, had just finished creating a finely tuned work of pizza art: gooey cheese, tangy tomato sauce, mushrooms and bacon. Anthony was so excited, he took the whole pizza into his lap! It was far and away the cutest moment of Imo’s for Kids Day, an annual fundraiser during which Imo’s Pizza locations donate 10% or more of their proceeds to Variety. As part of the celebration, Margie and Ed Imo invited two Variety kids out to the private pizza kitchen built in the backyard of their home. Anthony and Mia got to make and eat their own Imo’s pies — for breakfast, no less! As always, we’re grateful to Imo’s for devoting an entire day to Variety. Their dedication has raised more than $1.4 million for our programs!

Carl Imo, Kim Hudson of FOX 2 and Variety kids Anthony & Mia finish cooking a pizza in the home of Margie and Ed Imo.


Variety kids Anthony and Mia made their own pizza with the help of Carl Imo.

Margie Imo pictured with Variety child Anthony




When we introduce Variety kids to entertainers or other celebrities, we know that they’re going to come away inspired. But we don’t always realize that those sparks travel both ways. Leading up to his performance at the Pageant for Variety’s Night of the Rising Stars, we watched as singer Nicholas David fell in love with our kids and our program. During a morning session at FOX 2 to promote

the show, David met two super music fans — Variety kids Sam and Gracie. They talked about their favorite tunes (Gracie really, really loves Elvis), while David let Sam wail away at his guitar. Recalling the experience later on his blog, David marveled at the kids’ “contagious” joy. “The cup of my heart is full,” David wrote.


David followed up with a performance that exemplified why he was a finalist on NBC’s “The Voice.” Thanks to our Young Variety crew for coming out to support us that night!

Old Salt Union of Belleville opened for Nicholas David

Jessica & Wes Poppenhager, Meredith & Jeremy Hollingshead

Brandon Moritz, Justin Kraudel, Erin Warner Prange, Jake Siewert


Finalist on Season 3 of NBC’s hit show “The Voice,” Nicholas David performing a soulful number

Jordan DeSocio of Wild 104.9 along with Night of the Rising Stars Co-Chairs Becky Clauss, Nick McGeehon & Adam Bryant announce the raffle winners

Rebecca Lich, Joe Denother, Kelsey Ryan

Eric Youngblood & Melissa Cerwin





Touhill Performing Arts Center | University of Missouri - St. Louis SHOW TIMES

Friday, Oct. 24 - 10:00 a.m. & 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25 - 1:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26 - 1:30 p.m. Variety Children’s Theatre is proud to present its sixth annual production, Disney’s The Little Mermaid. This show boasts some of the city’s greatest professional actors and designers, children of all abilities and a live orchestra.

diversity. The production is truly a lesson in acceptance, perseverance and the “I CAN” spirit that shines through all Variety programs. We all eagerly await the results of their craft — bringing the story of a mermaid named Ariel to life.

Variety Children’s Theatre uses musical theatre to introduce school-aged children to the concepts of inclusion and

Tickets go on sale August 1 for the show times listed above. Visit or call 314-516-4949.

Tributes and Memorials (February 19, 2014 - May 16, 2014) HONORARIUMS In Honor of Kaci Conley Laura & James Conley In honor of Sue Engelhardt Norma & Carl Fitzwater


In Honor of Lelia Farr Mary Ballinger Debbie & Jack Thomas Watlow Electric Mfg. Co.

In Honor of Leila Farr & Tom Voss Stephen & Kimmy Brauer Kara & Timothy O’Leary In Honor of Susan & Kirk Fickert Wedding Sherry B. Roedder In Honor of Marilyn Fox Anne & John McDonnell In Honor of Marilyn & Sam Fox

Kathy & Tom Schweich Lotta & Jeff Fox

In Honor of Emory Krenn Susan & Stephen D. Turner

In Honor of Nick George Luke Warrell

In Honor Jacob Menner & Family LuAnn & Tom Noelke

In Honor of Lee Kling Helen Liu Kelly & Sean Spencer

In Honor of Barbara Nielson’s 51st Birthday Patrick Eynon

In Honor of Elke Koch Barbara J. Shapiro

In Honor of Bennett Palliser Tim & Debra Niemann




From the moment that Zack settled in behind the soundboard at The Pageant, the eager grin wouldn’t leave his face. He was about to take the reins for the sound system at one of St. Louis’ premier concert venues. For a young man who had discovered his passion for sound design through Variety Children’s Theatre, this was like someone handing him the keys to a Ferrari. The opportunity was made possible by Night of the Rising Stars headliner Nicholas David, who had asked the 19-year-old Zack to handle the boards for his band’s soundcheck. David’s usual soundman Jim guided Zack through the process.

Kansas City. This summer, he’s headed off to Chicago to study sound design and make it into a career. Variety has been with Zack his entire life, helping his family to obtain wheelchairs, standers and other equipment. Now he’s nearing the end of his time with the program. But with the inspiration and independence he’s gained, Zack is more than ready to power forward.

Variety has been with Zack his entire life, helping his family to obtain wheelchairs, standers and other equipment.

Once the band started playing, Zack adjusted their levels while they practiced. “If you want to go big, you can go big,” Jim noted, helping Zack to pump up the drum track. Soon the entire Pageant was vibrating from the sound of percussive hits. “Sweet!” Zack exclaimed. As giddy as Zack was from the experience, this was hardly his first rodeo. In addition to running sound for numerous Variety Children’s Theatre productions, he’s worked at Shakespeare festivals in both St. Louis and Variety teen Zack checking out the sound board with Jim from the band of Nicholas David

In Honor of Nathan Radoll Joan Radoll

Dawn Leona Davis Lynda Earhart

Susie & Paul Nease John N. Wiles

In honor of David & Thelma Steward James & Valorie Brown


In Memory of Mary Desmond Betty & Vern Schmitz

In Honor of Kimberly & Thelma Steward Alfred Brown In Honor of My Students Brett Vuagniaux In Honor of Auggie Wachtel

In Memory of Hayden Barnes Amy Luke Busker In Memory of Donna Elizabeth Crews Flo Case Kimberly Vallero & James De Santis Kimber & Dale Kyle June Nease

Patrick Scarry In Memory of Brian Hovis Dorothy L. Chambers

In Memory of Chad Eatherly & Robert Schmidt LuAnn & Tom Noelke

In Memory of Clete Moll Christina Altholz Karen Haglin Sandy Moll

In Memory of Gerald Elliott Janet Boland Michael & Jamie King

In Memory of Stephen Wesley Rines Karen Haglin



Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis 2200 Westport Plaza Drive Suite 306 St. Louis, MO 63146

POSTMASTER: Return Address Service Requested


View photos and highlights from all five Variety Week events! Pages 2-12


ZACK Page14

Variety Children’s Theatre Production is set for October 24-26. Page 13

Phone: (314) 453-0453 •

2014 Summer Spotlight Newsletter - Because of You  

Variety Week 2014 consistently blew away our expectations as St. Louisans came in droves to support Variety and local children with disabili...

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