Robyn Pilliod

The world-class luxury and glamour of international entertainment epicenter Macau, the Monte Carlo of the Orient, will take center stage at Peabody Opera House on April 6. Amid soft lighting, red velvet curtains and exquisite carvings, guests of the A Night at Macau: Betting for a Cure Gala will indulge in fine dining on the venue’s stage and enjoy entertainment in an upscale casino atmosphere reminiscent of the James Bond thriller, Skyfall

The high-rolling evening will benefit the American Diabetes Association, which works to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of those affected by the disease. Robyn Pilliod, the organization’s new executive director, infused new life into the gala last year. “We needed to pump new blood into the event and blaze new trails with the theme,” Pilliod says. The idea was a sold-out success, drawing 400 attendees and raising a record $485,000. And Pilliod hopes to continue that fundraising growth this year.

Dave Glover of 97.1 FM News Talk will emcee this year's event, while Dr. Robert Hagan and his wife, Brenda, serve as gala chairs. At Hagan’s private practice, the Neuropax Clinic in west St. Louis County, one of the focuses is nerve damage repair related to neuropathy, a complication that affects diabetics.

Pilliod says the gala fundraiser provides much-needed dollars for local diabetes research and programs. Organization-wide, the American Diabetes Association has donated more than $35 million to researching the disease. “What’s really exciting is the fact that annually, $3.2 million returns to our own community to fund research projects at institutions such as Washington University and Saint Louis University,” she notes. The gala funds also will benefit local programs such as the annual Camp EDI held at Blue Mountain Camp in Fredericktown, Miss., running June 8 to 15 for diabetic patients ages 9 to 17. “The focus of the camp is to encourage diabetes management in a medically safe environment, as we have pediatric endocrinologists available 24/7,” she says.

Locally and nationwide, Pilliod emphasizes the rising number of diabetics is staggering. In the greater St. Louis area, about 291,000 or 9 percent of adults 20 and older have diabetes, while 3,000 youth have the disease. “Every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes; and there are 9,000 new cases annually,” she notes. The disease has become the seventh-leading cause of death and the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and non-traumatic amputations.

As the association’s new leader in St. Louis, Pilliod hopes to help prevent and cure the disease that has affected so many lives around her. “It seems like every time you turn around, someone in your life is challenged with this disease,” she says. “We have to make a positive impact.”

ON THE COVER: A world-class casino experience—A Night at Macau: Betting for a Cure Gala—will take the Peabody Opera House stage April 6 to benefit the American Diabetes Association, which works to prevent and cure diabetes. Pictured on the cover: Venue, Peabody Opera House; flower arrangement, Peacock Blooms Floral Design. For more information, call 822-5490 or 888-342-2383, or visit

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