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

Fall 2016

Perhaps no show yet presented by Variety Children’s Theatre offers messages of hope to kids with special needs quite like this year’s show, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It reminds these kids, and all of us, that it’s okay to be different, that inner beauty is what really matters, and that fear should never prevent the quest for new experiences.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Meet Chip ........................................................Page 3 Camp-atriots....................................................Page 4 RAC Grant........................................................Page 5 Turn off your phone.......................................Page 6

From our

INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Variety Kid Colin and Brian Roy

A recent news article pointed out a paradox the parents of children with special needs are all too familiar with: while the federal government requires states to accommodate the special needs of people with disabilities like cerebral palsy and autism, Congress has never provided the money to do so. Meanwhile, the lack of government funding is often accompanied by reduced private insurance coverage and higher co-pays. Recent estimates suggest about one in six children between 3 and 17 have one or more developmental disabilities, and the average annual cost of caring for such a child is $15,000-30,000. That’s like buying a new car every year. Many of these families rely on the income of one parent, with the other a fulltime caregiver. But even with two salaries, it can be hard to afford a $40,000 power wheelchair, especially when the child needs new ones as s/he gets bigger and taller. That’s why Variety is so vital. With funding almost exclusively from corporate and individual donations, Variety provides what government and insurance cannot, or will not. But even we can come up short of meeting the needs of these amazing kids and their families. It gives us no pleasure to report that, sometimes, when demand is unexpectedly great, we put kids on a waiting list. But like the families we help, we at Variety never give up hope. After all, St. Louis is the most-charitable city in the country, and has always believed giving our kids the chance to live life to the fullest is an investment worth making. On behalf of the Variety staff, and, most importantly, all the Variety kids, I thank you for your continued support.

Brian Roy Interim Executive Officer 2

Meet Keira. You can call her “Chip.” We’d like you to meet Variety kid Keira. She’s making her acting debut as Chip in the upcoming Variety Children’s Theatre production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Keira was born in Vietnam, and diagnosed with polio at 19 months. She’s come a long way since then, and not just geographically. Keira loves to sing, and has performed “God Bless America” and the National Anthem at various St. Louis events. She has a great voice, and excellent poise for one so young, and has potential show-stealer written all over her. Keira’s costume will also attract a lot of attention (no spoilers here). While patiently waiting through the initial measuring process, Keira told us, “I’m so excited to be Chip because I love Beauty and the Beast. But it’s also great because no one cares that I’m handicapped.” Keira’s just one of more than 100 talented people working on stage, and backstage, to bring you a truly memorable version of this timeless love story.

We hope you’ll “be our guest” at one of the five performances at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, October 21-23. Tickets available at


CALL THEM CAMP-ATRIOTS The bonds built at Adventure Camp can be long and strong. A perfect example: Variety Teen Ryan and his counselor Jason, who were paired together by chance the first year, and by mutual request the next six.

Oh, and even though Jason wasn’t at camp this year, Ryan knew he’d be in good hands. After all, his counselor this year, and probably for the next couple years: Jason’s cousin, Zach.

Their relationship wasn’t just something that renewed itself each summer; they texted during the school year, and sometimes went out for ice cream.

Here’s Ryan, sounding very much like a happy camper: “I look forward to Variety Camp every summer because I get to be with other kids all day and have fun. I also enjoy socializing with all the counselors. They make camp a lot of fun!”

When Jason went off to college, he sent Ryan a Duke shirt, and postcards to keep in touch. This summer, other duties kept Jason from returning to Adventure Camp, but he and Ryan still got together to have a laugh and reminisce over dinner and, of course, more ice cream.

If you know somebody who could benefit from Adventure Camp, as either a camper or a counselor, contact There’s a two-day winter camp between Christmas and New Year’s.

Jason promised to send Ryan postcards from Germany, where he’ll be studying this fall.

Variety Kid Ryan & camp counselor Jason

Camp counselor Jason & Variety Kid Ryan

Variety Teen Ryan & camp counselor Zach

Help Variety. With a yep. And a YOP What’s your favorite part of summer? Barbecues? Swimming? Snow cones? Vacation? At Variety, our favorite part of summer has to be Adventure Camp. Happily, Variety has received a three-year grant from the state of Missouri that provides tax credits to any Missouri taxpayer who donates at least $1,000 to our Adventure Camp program. These tax credits are available through Missouri’s Youth Opportunity Program (YOP) and will help ensure Adventure Camp continues to be a highlight of every summer.


For more information, contact our Director of Development, Linda Sanders at

Camp counselors Zach, Jason & Variety Teen Ryan

THERHAPPY MEANS HOPE This is Maria. Just looking at her you know that line from West Side Story is true: All the beautiful sounds of the world in a single word, Maria. But at the moment, Maria can’t say her own name. She has a motor speech disorder called apraxia that disrupts the messages the brain sends to the lips, jaw, and tongue to form sounds, syllables, and words. Words like Maria. With intensive speech therapy, and constant-to-thepoint-of-wearying practice, there’s a good likelihood Maria will be able to build the muscle memory that someday will allow her to speak clearly.

Maria’s parents say “speech therapy is Maria’s hope for a future where she can communicate,” and that “the biggest weight has been lifted off our shoulders” thanks to the financial help Variety provides. We, of course, couldn’t do anything without the support of Variety Women, our founding TherHappy partner Express Scripts, or the support of people like you. You know the last line of that song from West Side Story, right? The most beautiful sound I ever heard, Maria. “Maria” will never be a more beautiful sound than when Maria can say it herself.

Words like Maria. Her parents are determined to get her to that day. Her parents say Maria is determined to get to that day. And she’s making good progress, thanks to the therapy Maria’s getting through Variety’s TherHappy program. The supporters who make up Variety Women have made the TherHappy program their primary focus, and work very hard to raise money to provide kids with special needs whatever therapy they need: speech, physical, occupational, even hippotherapy. Variety Kid Maria during a speech therapy session

VARIETY EARNS RAC GRANT We’re happy to announce that once again the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RAC) has awarded Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis a Program Support grant, in the amount of $5,000, for their 201617 grant year.

Children’s Theatre production in October of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” See RAC’s donation in action at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, October 21-23. Tickets available at

The RAC makes these annual awards in recognition and support of organizations committed to the cultural development of the region–in our case in recognition of Variety Children’s Theatre. We thank the RAC for this award and will put it to good use as we prepare for this year’s Variety

Variety Kids & Teens performing in last year’s production of Disney’s “Mary Poppins”


CINSERE THANKS You don’t have to ride a bike very far to get very far. Cinsere is a 5-year-old with Autism.

To learn more about Bikes for Kids, and how you can help, contact

A little more than a year ago, his grandmother was searching the web and came across a post about a little girl and the adaptive tricycle she got through Variety’s Bikes for Kids program. As Grandma Jonna told us, “The laughter and joy from this little girl was priceless. This was the beginning of that same joy coming into our neighborhood.” And not just joy. But strength (in his legs). And confidence (in himself). His grandma says the custombuilt adaptive bike Cinsere got from Variety not only taught him how to make turns, but how to take turns with other kids. And now his grandma thinks he’s ready to make the move to a “regular” bicycle. One he’ll be getting from Variety at the next Bikes for Kids giveaway in November. Cinsere’s progress is the kind of thing that Bikes for Kids makes possible, and makes Bikes for Kids necessary. But these bikes don’t come cheap and your financial support for this important program is one for which we, along with Cinsere and his grandma, are extremely grateful.

Variety Kid Cinsere riding his adaptive bike

David B Lichtenstein Foundation Chip & Kathleen Rosenbloom Lucia Rosenbloom

SCREEN GEM Perhaps the best-loved release at the local cinema this summer was “Turn Off Your Phone.” Don’t recognize the title? That’s the name of the spot, running before every movie at every Wehrenberg Theatre, where Variety kids encourage you to well, turn off your phone. And unlike most summer releases, this one’s set for a long run. So you’re sure to see it some time(s). (If nothing else, you can see it on Variety’s Youtube channel.)

The kids in the spot were treated to an exclusive “premiere” at Wehrenberg’s Des Peres 14 Cine, where they were photographed on the red carpet, received popcorn and other goodies, and watched themselves on the big screen. Reports we’ve received say “Turn Off the Phone” is doing the job of getting folks to turn off their electronics…just as soon as they stop smiling.

Thanks to Checkmark Communications, the inhouse agency of Nestle Purina Pet Care, for creating and producing the spot. And thanks to Wehrenberg for providing not only the theatres to show it, but the theatre where the spot was shot, as well.


A snapshot of Wehrenberg’s “Turn Off Your Phone” spot featuring Variety Kids

Variety reaches out through Ethics seminar This past summer Variety’s Planned Giving Advisory Committee hosted an Ethics Seminar attended by more than 100 local CPAs, lawyers, estate planners, and certified financial planners. Through Dan West, a member of the committee, Moneta Group agreed to sponsor the seminar. Attendees earned continuing education credits and learned about Variety’s mission. Variety board member, and Chairperson of the Planned Giving Advisory Committee, Kim Springer shared, “I feel like we achieved our goals and put a roadmap in place for sponsoring future well attended professional seminars which will enable us to spread the word about Variety and its mission.” A big thank you to Variety’s Planned Giving Advisory Committee for making this event such a huge success. A very special thank you to seminar presenter Martha Brown, CELA for volunteering her time and talent in providing our attendees with an exceptional presentation on ethics. To learn more about becoming a member of Variety’s Planned Giving Advisory Committee, please contact Linda Sanders at 314-720-7712 or

HONORARIUMS IIn Honor of Kathleen Benoist Alan Owens In Honor of Lauren Conrad Knights of Columbus No. 4099

In Honor of David and Thelma Steward’s 40th Anniversary Nancy and Kenneth Kranzberg Karen Martin Fetauaiga Faye Walker

In Honor of Spencer Koch’s Birthday Edward and Cheryl Feutz

In Honor of Thelma Steward for Mother’s Day Fetauaiga Faye Walker

In Honor of Ryan Schulte Robert and Jane Ryan

In Honor of the Cast and Crew of “1776” at the Lyseum Theatre at Arrow Rock Whit Reichert

In Honor of David Steward’s Birthday Alfred Brown Lisa and Brandon Mann Karen Martin Eric and Sheila Pearson In Honor of David and Thelma Steward Joan Newbill

Young Variety Taste of October

October 14, 2016 • Anheuser-Busch Biergarten • 7pm–9pm

The 3rd annual Taste of October event takes place at A-B’s Biergarten. Appetizers and open bar provided; you bring your best mingling abilities. Tickets are $25 before October 2; afterwards $30. More details available on Young Variety’s Facebook page (Young Variety of St. Louis).

Trivia Night hosted by Young Variety Saturday Feb 4, 2017

Sold out in 2015, this night is perfect for questioning minds and giving hearts. Dozens of team compete for prizes (and bragging rights) while raising money for local kids with special needs. Some of those kids will be in attendance to help read questions, and root you to victory. Details available later this year on Young Variety’s Facebook page.

In Honor of the Cast and Crew of “Murder on the Nile” at the Lyceum Theatre at Arrow Rock Whit Reichert

MEMORIALS In Memory of E. Randall “Randy” George Don and Joyce Altholz


In Honor of the Cast and Crew of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Shakespeare Festival Whit Reichert

In Memory of John Hillman Gary and Sue Gianino Keith and Gail Gundlefinger Mary Kay Naber In Memory of Peggy Hillman Gary and Sue Gianino In Memory of Dale Manies Paul Ashby Ronald and Ruth Ann Bauers Molly L. Forman Patty Ann Hayes Linda Kahn Howard Seflin Charles and Deanna Stanford Marty and Debra Voss

In Memory of Hank Martin Gary and Sue Gianino In Memory of Lois Mulderig Nancy and David Bircher James and Mary Lou Krueger Nancy and John Quicke In Memory of Mark Toberman Emily Cooper Bunyan Mr. Paul Taxman and Mrs. Judy Bremer-Taxman In Memory of Ida Woolfolk Eric and Sheila Pearson



Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis 11840 Westline Industrial Drive NEW SS! Suite 220 RE ADD St. Louis, MO 63146

Tickets at POSTMASTER: Return Address Service Requested

Last day of camp You knew it was coming, but wish it deferred: Last day of camp Did four weeks of camp really fly by like that? No more swimming, or art, or times up at bat? Won’t my friends miss me and not know where I’m at? Last day of camp Chronicling these campers has been our great pleasure. We leave you with a hope and a reminder. The hope: that the friends, the fun, the memories, and the wonders of camp deliver you into a world of brighter possibilities. The reminder: that Winter Camp begins December 28th.

Phone: (314) 720-7700 •

Profile for Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis

Spotlight Fall 2016  

Meet Keira who is debuting as Chip in Beauty and the Beast.

Spotlight Fall 2016  

Meet Keira who is debuting as Chip in Beauty and the Beast.