Serendipity and baseball. That’s what brought famed broadcaster Bob Costas to SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.
Thirty years ago, while in town covering a St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs game for NBC, Costas ran into Allen Allred, a longtime supporter of SSM Health Cardinal Glennon and a member of its foundation’s Board of Governors. At the time, Costas was planning to move back to St. Louis with his family and Allred took the opportunity to invite him to check out the hospital. “Bob came down and, being the generous guy that he is, asked what he could do to help,” recalls Allred.
As it turns out, quite a lot. With Allred’s encouragement, Costas not only joined the hospital foundation board, but also lent his name, starry connections and engaging presence to a new fundraiser: the Bob Costas Benefit. Held annually, this black-tie extravaganza gathered the crème de la crème of comedy, music and sports. The event attracted comic talents like Billy Crystal, Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld. Joining these entertainers were celebrated musical performers, including Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Diana Ross and Paul Simon, as well as legendary sports figures like Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Ozzie Smith.
After 27 years and more than $17 million dollars raised for the hospital, Costas hosted his final namesake benefit in 2015. One of the most tangible results of his decades-long fundraising efforts is the hospital’s Costas Center, which was renovated in 2014 and provides both in-patient and outpatient treatments for a wide variety of pediatric cancers and blood disorders.
Unlike the typical hospital floor – all sterile walls and harsh halogen lighting – the Costas Center is a bright, playful and, most importantly, inviting environment for children and their families. The center boasts an underwater theme, complete with a pirate ship, a 28-foot interactive yellow submarine and painted sea creatures swimming along the walls. Although it feels more like a playground, the center offers cutting-edge care and is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group, a clinical trials group supported by the National Cancer Institute and the largest global organization devoted to pediatric and adolescent cancer research.
Costas will be honored with the prestigious Glennon Award at the third annual Glennon Glow on Saturday, Nov. 17, at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis.
“The Glennon Award is the highest recognition given by our hospital,” explains Sandy Koller, vice president of SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the hospital that raises funds for education, facilities and programming. “This year marks 30 years of his support, so it was especially important for us to bestow it to him now.”
Inspired by the Costas Center’s deep-sea décor, this year’s Glennon Glow will be an exciting evening “under the sea.” Co-chaired by Jerry and Peggy Ritter and emceed by KSDK newscaster Anne Allred, the black-tie affair will feature a special performance by comedian George Wallace.
“When you walk in, the room will be transformed into something you’ve never seen before,” teases Koller. “It will be a wonderful environment.”
Unlike many fundraisers of its kind, Glennon Glow does not host an auction. Instead, the focus of the evening is on celebration and thanks. “It’s just be a fun night to celebrate [Cardinal Glennon] children and to support the hospital,” shares Koller.
All proceeds from the event’s ticket sales benefit the Costas Center. Because of this event and Costas’ continued support, the hospital was able to raise $7 million to overhaul the 4 North in-patient oncology wing, which is part of the Costas Center. Completed earlier this year, the renovated floor is now cheerfully beach-themed and is outfitted with a bone marrow transplant center, larger patient rooms, private bathrooms and showers, new nursing stations and an updated playroom. As Koller details, “it’s such a healing environment for kids who are often in the hospital from two weeks to several months.”
No child in need of care is ever turned away at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon. “We treat kids no matter their parents’ ability to pay,” explains Koller. “That’s why this hospital is so important to our region. And none of it would be possible without our generous donor support.”
SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation, 3800 Park Ave., St. Louis, 314-577-5605, 1-800-269-0552, glennon.org
6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17 at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis
Tickets - $500 per person
Special thanks to presenting sponsor Centene Charitable Foundation.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 314-577-5605 or visit glennon.org/glow.