Kidney cancer survivor hopes to raise funds for research

Against all odds, Leon Bialecki beat advanced kidney cancer. It was 1996 when 50-year-old Dr. Bialecki, director of Critical Care Medicine at Christian Hospital, was diagnosed. “I was very fortunate to have responded favorably to immunotherapy, designed to enhance my immune system and to two major surgeries,” Leon said. In 2001 his grateful family established the Bialecki Kidney Cancer Foundation, a not-for-profit organization with the purpose of promoting research in kidney cancer. All proceeds go to the National Kidney Cancer Association in Evanston, Ill. where all research grants in the name of the Foundation are allocated to senior investigators in kidney cancer.

On Saturday night, Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon Aug. 30 at 4:30 p.m. Richard T. Katz, M.D., and his wife, Dr. Stacy Smith, will host a summer musical event at their home, 7475 York Drive in Clayton, to benefit the Bialecki Kidney Cancer Foundation. Dr. Katz, in private medical practice, is certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and has an awesome r ésum é, which would be longer than this column.


He is also an experienced jazz and classical musician both as a performer and composer and recently competed in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. At the benefit soir ée, Dr. Katz will be accompanied by violinist Silvian Iticovici, Second Associate Concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and soprano Gina Galati of the New Opera St. Louis.

They will perform works by Schubert, Puccini and others. As if this were not dayenu there will be selected wines and gourmet hors d’oeuvres. The suggested tax-deductible donation is $60 per person, which will be matched by Leon and Ilana Bialecki. Seating is limited, so make your reservation soon for these enchanting events. RSVP to Ilana at 314-322-4219 or on line at [email protected] According to Bialecki, “Kidney cancer strikes about 50,000 Americans a year, of which almost a third will have spread to other parts of the body at the time of diagnosis. For reasons that are not clear, the rate of kidney cancer has been increasing at about 1.5 percent per year. No ages are spared, though most patients are stricken at the prime of their life.

“Until recently there was no effective treatment available,” he continued. “There is some good news. Over the past four years several encouraging new drugs for the treatment of kidney cancer have been approved by the FDA but much work remains to be done.”

ST. LOUIS SHOW STOPPERS are stomping up and singing up a storm again for the 21st time, if my calculation is correct. Since 1988 Babe Rosenberg has been producing musicals throughout the St. Louis area, featuring casts that range in age from six to youngsters in their 80s. This year the Show Stoppers will perform at Clayton High School Auditorium on Saturday evenings Aug. 15 and 22 and Sunday afternoons Aug. 16 and 23. Songs and dance numbers from the Broadway hits Damn Yankees, Can Can, Sweet Charity and Alexander’s Ragtime Band will be featured. Proceeds from the show will go to Barnes Jewish Hospital for Cancer Research, while the opening night is dedicated to the Brain Injury Association of Missouri. To order tickets at $15, or for more information, call Babe Rosenberg at 636-532-5501.

LISA GREENING has joined Ready Readers as its new Executive Director. This award-winning non-profit organization is committed to inspiring love of reading in at-risk preschool children. Each week Ready Readers sends more than 450 trained volunteers to read aloud to 6,500 low-income children, ages 2-5, visiting the same classroom and reading to the same preschoolers, thus forming strong bonds with the young lives they are helping to shape. If you are interested in reading aloud to young children, donating books or becoming a sponsor, visit

MARY POPPINS, that charming, beautiful and indestructible musical nanny, is coming to the Fabulous Fox Theatre Aug. 13-30, and although the theater seats lots of people, I imagine that everyone’s kid and grandkid will want to see it. Frankly, I want to see it. The original Broadway stars, Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee, will reprise their roles as Mary Poppins and Bert, the Chimney Sweep, which adds to the charm of the production. So this is a reminder to get your tickets now.