Heart Ball, Jewish Mystic Jam and Ready Readers

By Lois Caplan

‘TOGETHER TO END STROKE’ reads the invitation to the Heart Ball, the American Heart Association’s annual fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Starting at 5:45 p.m. with a cocktail reception, followed at 7 by dinner and dancing to the music of Synergy, this event benefits the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to reducing disability and death from diseases of the heart and stroke, America’s No.1 and No. 3 killers. Suggested dress for the evening is “black tie or elegant evening attire — red accessories optional.” For more information about reservations for the Heart Ball, call 314-692-5617.

My special interest in the 2014 Heart Ball is that Dr. George Kichura will be awarded the prestigious Hugh D. McCulloch Award in recognition of his significant contributions toward the association’s mission. “George’s work with time-critical diagnosis for heart attack patients is beyond legendary and will leave a lasting mark in cardiology history,” said Dr. Kimberly Perry of Christian Hospital. Kichura is the immediate past president of the American Heart Association Board of Directors for the greater St. Louis region. In addition, he is the state leader for the Missouri Time Critical Diagnosis (TCD) program for heart attack, stroke and trauma and has been recognized as one of the best doctors in the region.

I first met Kichura in the emergency room of the hospital where I was carted by ambulance in the middle of the night with a heart attack. Actually I did not meet him eyeball to eyeball for several days after he rescued me near death, not until I opened my eyes and said, “Who are you?” Anyhow, he knows all about me, and I know a lot about him and his family, as our office visits are sometimes chatty. How do you feel about someone who saved your life? Grateful? You bet! 

KIDS WHO READ SUCCEED! This is the mantra for Ready Readers, a St. Louis nonprofit organization that inspires preschool-age children from low-income communities to become readers by reading aloud to them, increasing their exposure to high quality books and providing stimulating literacy-related activities. At 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at Clayton High School, the Rep’s Imaginary Theatre Company will perform its one-hour, award winning production of Aesop’s classic fable “The Tortoise and the Hare.” Admission is $12 in advance for children and adults, $15 at the door. At 1 p.m., prior to the performance, youngsters can enjoy activities compliments of Circus Kaput, the Magic House, Puppet Guild of Greater St. Louis, Kidz Art, Mad Science, Bricks4Kidz, the Community Music School of Webster University and the St. Louis Science Center. 

Currently, 550 volunteers read weekly to 8,000 preschoolers. For tickets in advance, which include all the fun activities prior to the show, call 314-564-8070 or go to  readyreaders.org/events.

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT? Well, here it is: the inaugural Jewish Mystic Jam at 8 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center Saturday, Jan. 25. Presented by the JCC and the Rabbinical Association, the event includes storytelling, jazz, a drum cycle, Niggunim, Klezmer, poetry and a nosh. According to the JCC’s Diane Maier, “We have created a fabulous evening. When you enter the building, stop for wine and nosh.  Then we will begin with havdalah performed by Rabbi Jim Goodman. At that time, everyone will be given instructions on how the evening will proceed. The idea is that you can freely move from room to room and listen to some jazz, then perhaps some poetry, take a break, and have some wine or coffee and sweets.” 

Goodman, along with other performers including singers Andrew Bollinger and Leslie Caplan, Robert Fishbone, Rabbi Suzanne Brody, Alan Nemes, Kim Portnoy, Howard Schwartz and Will Soll, will be featured. Tickets for this interactive smorgasbord of music, stories and more are available in advance for $15, $20 at the door.  Get them online at brownpapertickets.com or by calling Maier at 314-442-3190.

A SPECTACULAR TEAPOT SHOW opened last week at Craft Alliance in the Delmar Loop in celebration of the start of its 50th anniversary year. There are several dozen magnificent teapots on display and for sale, with prices ranging from modest to $16,000 for a fabulous work that I hear has been sold (so you won’t be disappointed). Over the years I have been to several teapot shows at Craft Alliance but this one is so special that it should not be missed. Purchasers must leave their pots at Craft Alliance until the show closes March 23, so you have lots of time to see the entire show.