St. Louis (November 13, 2012) – Variety the Children’s Charity is pleased to announce the allocation of more than $4.5 million to support more than 14,000 St. Louis children living with disabilities. The $4.5 million goes to support the various needs of the Variety child, whether through Variety’s own programs or through programs provided by select Variety partner agencies. Variety will announce these grants at this year’s Champions for Children Summit at the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis’ Central West End this Tuesday, November 13. Variety will also name St. Louis’ own Cedric the Entertainer as this year’s Champion for Kids.
“The Champions for Children Summit is where Variety takes the funds we raised in the past year, a record-setting $4.8 million in 2011, thank the tireless individuals who raised those dollars, and allocate them to the children with physical and developmental disabilities who need our help in this community,” said Jan Albus, Variety CEO. “Variety is proud to be the Go-To organization that parents count on to address ALL the needs of their child. You will see that mission reflected in the programs we honor today.”
The Champions for Children Summit begins with an educational forum for parents and the leaders of the St. Louis agencies which support children with disabilities. The highlight of the forum is the keynote speech, given this year by Dr. Robert Hughes, President and CEO of Missouri Foundation for Health. The day then culminates with the Champions for Children Luncheon and Awards Program.
From recognizing the company that invented a new medical device that helps children walk to honoring volunteers who give countless hours to allocating much-needed dollars to dozens of programs, the Champions for Children Summit is a celebration of the generous heart of St. Louis.
2012 Champion for Kids
Each year Variety honors a national celebrity from the entertainment industry who has worked on behalf of children with special needs in education, recreation, or therapy. This year’s Variety Champion for Kids is St. Louis’ own Cedric the Entertainer, who has shown the true heart of show business with his constant support of and commitment to enriching the lives of Missouri’s youth through the Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation.
A famous actor, comedian and director, Cedric the Entertainer was born in Jefferson City and graduated from Berkley High School in the St. Louis area, then graduated from Southeast Missouri State University. He is best known as the co-star of the WB sitcom The Steve Harvey Show, as Eddie in the Barbershop films, and as one of the four comedians featured in the Spike Lee film The Original Kings of Comedy. He is currently starring in TV Land’s The Soul Men.
2012 President’s Award
Variety presents the President’s Award to an outstanding corporate partner. This year Wells Fargo Advisors, a company known in St. Louis for its support of Variety initiatives, takes the honor. The Wells Fargo Advisors investment in the cause has reached the highest corporate gift level and illustrates the values and priorities of this outstanding company.
2012 Avatara Innovation Award
Technology often makes the biggest difference in the life of a Variety child, giving them an “I Can” attitude and removing barriers that challenge a child with a disability. Variety honors Innovative Neutronics with the Variety Avatara Innovation Award for their medical device, the WalkAide. Variety has just begun providing this device to children, allowing them to gain more and more mobility.
Stellar Performance Awardees
Variety also recognizes St. Louis agencies that have demonstrated exceptional dedication to the mission for children with physical and developmental disabilities. The Stellar Performance Awardees are Behavioral Counseling: St. Louis Transitional Hope House, Camping: Sunnyhill Adventures, Clubs and Community Centers: Jewish Community Center Fit for Life, Early Child Care and Education: St. Martin’s Child Center, Hospital: Ranken Jordan Pediatric Specialty Hospital, Schools: Miriam Foundation, and Special Disabilities Agency: Jamestown New Horizons.
Sunshine Coach Vans Awardees
Variety’s Man and Woman of the Year, Michael Neidorff and Thelma Steward, have the honor of handing over the keys to two Sunshine Coaches, the legendary vans that transport children to doctors’ appointments, therapy sessions or special outings. The Howard Park Center Coach will take Variety kids to aqua therapy, physical education classes and field trips. The Epworth Children and Family Services Coach will replace the retiring Sunshine Coach used by Epworth’s Emergency Shelter, taking children to medical appointments, recreational outings and opportunities to meet vocational goals.
It is the core of Variety’s mission to meet the multitude of needs every Variety child and parent faces. Variety’s Emerson Resource Center has all the answers to the complex questions that arise regarding medical needs, education, recreation, transportation, and therapy. Variety Children’s Theatre this year allowed 35 Variety children to work and perform side-by-side with stage professionals. Variety Adventure Camp makes the impossible, possible. Variety kids aged 4 to 16 with physical and developmental disabilities enjoy swimming, rock climbing, bike riding and much more. The Variety Sunshine Coach vans transport children across the St. Louis area to medical appointments, therapy sessions and special outings. One of Variety’s newest programs, Ther-Happy Kids, provides scholarships to assist families when insurance does not cover needed and numerous therapy sessions. These are just a few of Variety’s many programs which address the needs of the whole Variety child.
About Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis
For 80 years, Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis has helped thousands of children with disabilities say “I can” by providing them with vital medical equipment, as well as educational, therapeutic and recreational programs such as the annual Adventure Camp and Variety Children’s Theatre. An international leader in fundraising, Variety the Children’s Charity also distributes grants to more than 80 qualified agencies throughout the St. Louis area to fund programs and/or services that directly impact the lives of children with physical and mental disabilities. David Steward, chairman and founder of World Wide Technology, Inc., is the organization’s president. For more information on Variety, including upcoming events and volunteer opportunities, visit www.varietystl.org.