Hope Happens

Columnist Lois Caplan

By Lois Caplan

HOPE HAPPENS FOR PEOPLE WITH NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS at the 7th annual Evening of Hope, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12 at the Sheldon, 3648 Washington Boulevard. The event is hosted by Hope Happens, which financially supports the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders at Washington University School of Medicine. Cocktails and a buffet dinner will be followed by a concert by the Grammy-award nominated, internationally renowned Eroica Trio whose program will include “Songs from an American Journey.” After the performance, guests are invited to have dessert with the artists. For reservations at $250 per person contact Sandy Kaplan, Director of Development, at 314-725-3888 or [email protected].

My gut feeling is that I want to know what kind of bang for the buck I get when I attend a fundraiser.  The benefits from this event are boundless.  Hope Happens’ mission is to bring hope to patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson and Huntington’s diseases, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, stroke, brain and spinal cord injury.  By financially supporting cutting-edge research in diseases that share common underlying causes, Hope Happens is footing the bill for specialists at Wash U where research is taking place to find new treatments and cures for all of these diseases.

The evening will be a tribute to Christopher W. Hobler and Maestro Hans Vonk, former music director and conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, whose brilliant career was cut short by a neurological disorder. It is appropriate that the Eroica Trio, whose cellist is Sara Sant’ Ambrogio, the daughter of John Sant’ Ambrogio, former principal cellist with the SLSO for many years, will perform.

STEPHANIE L. RIVEN is more than a charming woman with a pretty face – in fact she is much, much more. Not exactly as proof, but to give you an idea, Stephanie was honored last month by Washington University when she was presented with a Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes graduates who have exemplified the ideals embodied by an Arts and Sciences education and have brought honor to Washington University through their lives, work and service. Stephanie, AB ’69 and MS ’71, created COCA (Center of Creative Arts), a nationally recognized multidisciplinary community arts center serving up to 50,000 people a year.  COCA provides 500 offerings in dance, theater, vocal music and visual art at its primary location in University City and in 45 schools throughout St. Louis City and County. A founder of Central Reform Congregation, Stephanie received the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts and Education Council. Retiring after 23 successful years at COCA, she is today a visiting practitioner at Harvard’s Graduate school of Education and a consultant with the New York based firm David Bury & Associates, working with nonprofit organizations throughout the country. The best part of this deal is that Stephanie has remained in the St. Louis community doing what comes naturally elsewhere.

SPRING SPECTACULAR 2011: A Celebration of Style and Success on Wednesday, May 11 will mark the St. Louis Crisis Nursery’s 25th anniversary year.  It is in honor of the thousands of children and families who have successfully benefited from the Nursery’s vital programs and services. Never one to understate anything, Roberta Cohen, co-chair of the event with Susan Block, told me: “This will be an unparalleled evening of glamorous fashion, scrumptious food and decadent delight…all to support the Crisis nursery. We’ll sip wine, champagne or Coca Cola, nibble on heavenly appetizers and sinful desserts, rub shoulders with the fashion glitterati, glimpse the latest and hottest trends in high fashion for men and women.”

The evening, starting in Dillard’s Galleria 2nd floor sportswear department with the cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m., will feature a professional Runway Fashion Show at 7 p.m. Then, to top off a fun evening, there will be a treasure hunt in which guests will follow clues to locate and win “incredible treasures” hidden throughout the store. The attire is “Business chic” but be sure to wear comfy shoes to take part in the exciting treasure hunt. For $25, you can participate in all the activities plus receive a gift bag.  You may also win an attendance prize.  For $75, you get all the above plus gifts from Dillard’s and Dior, and for $125 you will receive the aforementioned plus the knowledge that you are helping the Crisis Nursery to provide its services.  For reservations call Stephanie Kababie at 314-292-5770 or visit [email protected]

The St. Louis Crisis Nursery provides 24-hour care, 365 days a year, to children in the Greater St. Louis region.  Founded in 1986, it has cared for more than 64,000 children, and provided support and counseling to more than 81,000 families who may bring their children to the nursery for a variety of reasons – overwhelming parental stress, parental illness or death, lack of utilities, food or shelter, domestic violence or any other situation which jeopardizes the safety and well-being of the child and necessitates temporary child-parent separation.

Great cause? Great event?  You bet!

FRANCES FRANKLIN’S DEATH LAST WEEK sent me into a downward tailspin. She was one of the most remarkable and vital women I have ever known – intelligent, caring, warm, loving, and above all valiant. In spite of a terrible accident that left her in a wheelchair, she never complained, continued to smile and participated in her favorite projects like Lifelong Learning at Washington University, which she helped found. I will miss her terribly as will all those who had the privilege of knowing her.