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

Summer 2018

INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Dinner with ths Stars Recap .... Page 6-8 Curtain Up / Variety Theatre .......Page 13 Catching up at Camp .............Page 14-15

Executive Director

Dear Friend of Variety, I want to personally thank you for your support of Variety St. Louis. The success of Variety Week 2018, through your generosity, helped us raise awareness and provide funds to unleash the power within Variety Kids. This power can be witnessed when a child uses a wheelchair or walker to go to class on her own, is able to stand for the first time with the help of orthotics or a stander, or practices what he learned in speech therapy to communicate with friends. It is also seen in real and powerful ways this summer at Adventure Camp. Camp is well underway, and it is truly incredible. Our campers learn skills, make friends and experience new things, all while having fun! So far, Variety campers have already gone ice skating, learned about Robotics, climbed rock walls, made music, caught fish and even got a special preview of the new, completely accessible St. Louis Arch Museum. You can also see the power of Variety Kids through our Performing Arts program. This year, Variety Theatre will celebrate its tenth year of teaching confidence, theatre skills and more to an inclusive Children’s Ensemble with our production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.” So, as you can tell, there are many ways the power that has been unleashed during Variety Week will help Variety Kids year-round. Thank you for that.


Brian Roy Executive Director


“Variety is the best for everything.” – Hibah, Carole and Nabeel’s Mom

Stronger Together The bond between siblings Nabeel and Carole is as unique as it is strong. They enjoy many of the same activities, songs and TV shows, sharing similar interests as well as plenty of smiles and giggles. They also share a similar medical diagnosis – cerebral palsy. Nabeel and Carole’s journey thus far has not been an easy one. The two were born in Jordan, where advanced medical care and equipment for those with disabilities is difficult to find.

So, Hibah found Variety. “Variety is the best for everything,” she says.

Almost three years ago, their parents made the decision to leave their home to move to the United States in order to get better care for their children. At the time, Nabeel, who is now eight years old, was still using a stroller as well as an infant car seat for transportation. And neither child had any access to therapy. But, Hibah, their mom, knew that these things, and more, could improve the quality of life of her family.

Thanks to Variety, Nabeel now has both a wheelchair and a car seat that fit his needs and will grow with him. The family has also received a bath chair to make bathing the children both easier and safer. And both children have started physical therapy, which will help make them stronger and more independent.

The challenge was coming up with the funds to cover these medical necessities. Medicaid is not available to families who have been U.S. citizens for less than five years and insurance doesn’t always cover everything the children need.

Together, they are working towards reaching their full potential. Variety, and our supporters, will provide them with the access and opportunities needed to help them along this journey. 3

On April 28, Variety Kids and Teens took the stage for our 52nd annual Dinner with the Stars. They shared their inspirational stories and showed what is possible when given the opportunity to shine. The inclusive Variety Children’s Chorus gave two incredible performances, including a moving finale of “Glory” alongside the night’s headliner, talented singer-songwriter John Legend.

Variety Kids and Teens singing on stage with John Legend

The power of our supporters was felt throughout the Peabody Opera House that evening. Their applause was thunderous for our Variety Kids, John Legend and our Man and Woman of the Year, L.B. Eckelkamp, Jr. and Cheri Fromm. In all, the event raised more than $2.3 million. Thanks to our underwriting partners, dinner guests and attendees, these funds will go towards unleashing the power within children with special needs through access to durable medical equipment and therapy, and opportunities to participate in educational and recreational programs. Generously Underwritten by Steward Family Foundation , World Wide Technology and Centene Charitable Foundation

Variety Children’s Chorus sing “Glory” with John Legend

John Legend 4

L.B. Eckelkamp Jr. and Bonnie Eckelkamp

Cheri and Ron Fromm

Kimberly, David and Thelma Steward

Corey Stelling and Amy Best

Deborah Ward, Yvette Holmes, Caira Butler, Chajuana Trawick, and Kim Sherman

Belma and Dr. Henry Givens

Ambassador Sam and Marilyn Fox

Pat and Mark Burkhart

Greg and Tracy Berg, Scott and Jill Mannis, Steve and Aemi Tucker, Michele and David Bernstein, Mike and Debbie Lefton

Bill and Marsha Rusnack, Ron Fromm

Don Ferguson and Mary Ann Haidrey

Mun and Suzanne Choi, Carol and Tom Voss

Stacey and Rich Liekweg 5

Richard and Kathy Winter

Keith and Stephanie Williamson, Julie Tang and Mark Eggert

Branko and Gina Marusic, Kelly and Steve Gross

Jerrod and Valerie Miliken, Larry and Jill Otto

Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, Zack, Sophie and Mary Ann Srenco

Randy and Davida Layer, Gail Abernathy, Paige and Craig Klein, Sue Abernathy, Pete Peck, Lori and Jim Doybrie, Jacob Burkholder

Mike and Laura Ellenhorn, Dawn Gilbertson, Erin Warner Prange, Ron Fromm, Brian Enos 6

Shelitta and Gary Harlson, Gilbert and Lourdes Bailon

Kevin and Juanita Logan, Duke and Marcia Nieringhaus, Karen and Jim Shaughnessy, Cari Whiting, Tyler Troutman, Kerrie Caldwell-Troutman

Family Celebration Our second annual Family Celebration Day, held on April 22, was again a big success. Variety Kids and their families gathered to spend time socializing with one another while enjoying interactive games, face painting, live music, the Bubble Bus, the Purina Pro Plan Performance Dog Team and so much more!

Variety’s Family Celebration is generously supported by:


(front) Leslie Wilson, Lesley Hoffarth, Jan Niehaus, Jackie Nhotiphay and Ashley Adams (back) Ljiljana Cvijanovic, Tamara Sheffield, Denise Tyson and Beth Knysak

Thelma and David Steward and Ameren Power Kids

Cynthia Oliver, Kimberly BrowningHoffman, Michelle Tucker Runway Lights Fashion Show is generously underwritten by:

(front) Stephanie Meadows, Dawn Gilbertson, Erica Randall, Valerie Hoffmann (back) Kimberly Browning-Hoffman, Debbie Andrews, Laura Ellenhorn 8

With support from: Ralph Lauren 2018 Spring Fashions

Runway Lights Fashion Show kicked off Variety Week on April 21, this year featuring designs from the Ralph Lauren Spring 2018 Collection, and was once again led by the inspiring Thelma Steward, who served as honorary chair. Ameren Power Kids also appeared on the runway, modeling Ralph Lauren fashions as well as their impressive power chairs. Variety Kid Kimira and her mom, Carol, shared their story and helped us raise more than $130,000 for the TherHappy Kids program – a new record for this event.

Karen Stratman, Cara Knox and Bonnie Eckelkamp Mary and Dave Steward II

Fran Zamler, Iris Buffen, Ellen Soule

Addie Tonkins, Betty Davidson, Cathy Cline and Tracy Wolz

Wendy Brumitt, Carol Voss and Julie Catron

2018 Runway Lights Fashion Show luncheon space

Kenya Williams, Alishea Johnson and Ann Marr


Variety in the Morning A crew of Variety Kids took over Fox 2’s set, presenting audiences from around the region with “Variety in the Morning” on April 24. These reporters-in-training brought St. Louisans the day’s weather, traffic and news stories, with a side of fun.

Variety Teens Kara and Rachel with Monica Adams

Variety Teen Brendan with meteorologist Glenn Zimmerman


Variety Teens Brian interviews Garon Mosby of the St. Louis Fire Department

Variety Teen Lindsey

Imo’s for Kids Day On April 25, fans of the “Square Beyond Compare” could order anything off the menu at a participating Imo’s location and help Variety Kids. For Variety Kids Mireya and Liam, those menu items were their own personal pizzas they made alongside Carl and Kelly Imo, and Fox 2’s Lisa Hart. This was Imo’s for Kids Day, and 10 percent of proceeds from that day’s sales were donated to Variety.

Variety Kid Liam making his own Imo’s pizza

Carl and Kelly Imo with Variety Kids Mireya and Liam

Variety Kid Mireya and siblings enjoying Imo’s pizza

Variety Kid Liam showing off his new Imo’s shirt


Ryan’s First Pitch Variety Kid Ryan got the once-in-a-lifetime chance to take the mound at Busch Stadium on April 26. Thanks to our partner, Bank of America, Market President Michael Lawrence and Variety Board Member Amy Best, he threw the ceremonial first pitch before joining his family, and other Variety Kids and their families, to enjoy the game from luxury suites provided by Bank of America, Ameren and World Wide Technology.

TRIBUTES AND MEMORIALS HONORARIUMS In Honor of L.B. Eckelkamp Jr. Gerald and Mary Beth Daniels William and Leslie Wilson In Honor of Cheri Fromm Catherine and James Berges Gerald and Mary Beth Daniels Marylen Mann In Honor of Gracie Gibson Kim and Greg Stone In Honor of Vinny Majino Margurite Spent Julie Swider In Honor of Jacob Menner LuAnn and Tom Noelke In Honor of Tonya Muro Leigh and Gil Muro In Honor of A.J. Puricelli Robert and Kathryn Henry 12

(February 1 – April 30)

In Honor of Ann Rice Deborah Tharpe In Honor of Nancy Steele Robert Steele In Honor of Karen Steitz Deborah Tharpe In Honor of Thelma Steward Alfred Brown In Honor of David and Thelma Steward Eric and Sheila Pearson In Honor of the Steward Family Foundation Alfred Brown In Honor of Carol Voss Suzanne Choi In Honor of Luke Thomas Waltman Richard and Joyce Becker

MEMORIALS In Memory of Chad Eatherly LuAnn and Tom Noelke In Memory of David Boyd Kimberly Boyd In Memory of Declan Hierman Sally and Kenneth Hierman In Memory of Don Chesser Stephen Hendel Larry and Margaret Dooley R. Julayne McNary Bruce and Nancy Clark In Memory of Veronica Kodelja Kirk and Julie Jackson Katherine Schwartz In Memory of Tom Tift Elizabeth Wilson

Auditions are done and the cast list is set. What’s next for Variety Theatre 2018? Our Curtain Up Camp, of course! All of the kids and teens that make up our inclusive Children’s Ensemble will spend a week in June learning scenes, songs and dances from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. They’ll even wrap up the week with their very own performance of the production. You can also see the Children’s Ensemble, and their accompanying professional adult cast, take the stage October 18 – 21, 2018 for Variety Theatre’s 10th anniversary production. Tickets for Disney’s The Little Mermaid will go on sale August 1st.

Visit for more information.

2018 Theatre Circle Award Winner!

Celebrating 10 years of Variety Theatre!

Touhill Performing Arts Center Thursday, October 18 – 7pm Friday, October 19 – 10am & 7pm Saturday, October 20 – 1:30pm & 7pm Sunday, October 21 – 1:30pm

Tickets on sale August 1st 13

ADVENTURE C When it comes to Adventure Camp, we know it can provide increased socialization, new skills, improved independence and established self-esteem, but we asked our Variety parents for their perspective on what Adventure Camp means to them, and their campers.

“There is something special that happens at Variety Camp. Kids are so relaxed and feel so included and valued that they are also excited about the other kids around them. Friendships develop and that is a treasure.” – Peggy, Tori’s Mom


“Adventure Camp provides a safe and nurturing camp environment so that Andrew, with mobility and communications differences, can fully experience FUN at summer camp. It is also nice for Andrew to not stand out for a change, and be fully accepted.” – Ann, Andrew’s Mom



You can help these campers, and their parents! Tax credits awarded by the State of Missouri’s Youth Opportunity Program (YOP) are available to boost our fundraising for Variety Adventure Camp. Your contribution of $1,000 or more is eligible for this tax credit. This is a smart way of maximizing your contribution and minimizing your tax liability, while also giving back. Learn more about this program at

“My son has been a part of Variety for many years and has had so many opportunities at camp to do things he would never be able to do otherwise. Dominic says that camp makes him feel much more confident.” – Missy, Dominic’s Mom

“As a parent of a child with special needs, Variety gives me a peace of mind knowing my child is well cared for so I am able to fully engage with my other children or get some much needed rest!” – Meg, Emory’s Mom 15

Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis 11840 Westline Industrial Drive Suite 220 St. Louis, MO 63146

POSTMASTER: Return Address Service Requested

Do you have or know of a child or teen with special needs? Variety can help! Call 314-720-7700. Variety serves children with physical and developmental disabilities from birth to age 21 who live in our service area, which covers thirty counties in the St. Louis region. Parents or guardians must only complete a simple application process. We focus on unleashing the power within children with special needs by giving them access and opportunity through medical equipment, therapy services, summer camp, a performing arts program and other accessible educational and recreational activities.

Phone: (314) 720-7700 •

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

Variety Summer 2018 Spotlight  

In our Summer 2018 edition of the Spotlight newsletter, you'll find a re-cap of Variety Week events, an inspiring story about siblings who a...

Variety Summer 2018 Spotlight  

In our Summer 2018 edition of the Spotlight newsletter, you'll find a re-cap of Variety Week events, an inspiring story about siblings who a...


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