The Gateway Men’s Chorus will perform a “Salute to Broadway” at the Gateway Center in Collinsville on Saturday, June 17th. The performance will benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children – St. Louis.
“You’re going to hear a spectacular music presentation taken from a familiar songbook of Broadway songs, while knowing that you’re helping one of the best-known true charities in the country,” says Mark Maxwell, administrator for the Ainad Shriners of Southern Illinois.
Maxwell says the concert is a new fundraising event for the East St. Louis-based Ainad Shriners.
The Ainad Shriners are a local chapter the Shriners International fraternal organization. Their most well-known philanthropy is the network of Shriners Hospitals for Children, which focus on several subspecialties: Orthopedics, burn care, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate reconstruction.
The St. Louis hospital specializes in orthopedic care and research into pediatric muscular and skeletal conditions. In 2015, it moved into a new building at Clayton and Newstead avenues along Interstate 64 in St. Louis. “We’re building two new facilities, one in Los Angeles and one in Lexington KY, but before those two, the St. Louis hospital was the newest in the system,” Maxwell says.
Maxwell says one of the important features of the Shriners Hospitals is the willingness to care for young patients regardless of their families’ ability to pay. Since 1922, the national hospital network has treated more than 1.3 million children.
Here in Southern Illinois, the Ainad Temple helps children in 40 counties across the southern third of the state, Maxwell says. In addition to fundraising, members volunteer to drive families to one of three hospitals – St. Louis, Chicago or Cincinnati – depending upon the children’s needs. He notes that the Shriners Hospitals have been recognized nationally as an extremely well-run charity.
The Gateway Men’s Chorus was founded in 1987 with the mission of affirming and promoting gay culture and acceptance through excellence in music performance and education. It is finishing up its 30th anniversary season. This benefit concert is part of the group’s effort to increase community outreach, says artistic director Robert Stumpf. “We want to build bridges to groups outside the LGBT community,” Stumpf says. He says the chorus was looking for more opportunities to perform in the Metro East, and when the Shriners benefit came up, “a light bulb went off in our heads that this was a perfect opportunity.” He notes that several members of the chorus are from the Metro East, “and that number is slowly rising.” Stumpf says the chorus performed last summer to benefit another pediatric charity, one to aid children with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a potentially fatal birth defect.
The concert will serve as an encore performance of the chorus’ “Shine: A Celebration of Broadway” concert, featuring music from such shows as “Miss Saigon” “The Sound of Music,” “Sweet Charity,” “Porgy & Bess” and “Fun Home.”
“It’s a hodgepodge of stuff spanning 125 years,” Stumpf says. “Everything from Rodgers and Hammerstein to recent musicals like ‘Something Rotten!’ and ‘Hamilton.’” Maxwell says that based on the success of the June 17th concert, the Shriners may sponsor future similar fundraisers. In addition to the music, Maxwell says the event will feature short presentations about the work of the Shriners and the Shriners Hospitals.
Morgan Swanner, an Edwardsville High School student, is slated to appear at the concert as a patient ambassador. Morgan was born with part of her right arm missing, and credits Shriners Hospital with help her adapt to her disability, to the point where she can play sports and even play the violin.
“Our patient ambassadors talk about their experiences as patients in the system,” Maxwell says. “They tell their heartfelt stories about the care they received and how it benefited them.”
Want to go?
What: Gateway Men’s Chorus performance, “Salute to Broadway”
When: 7-9 p.m. Saturday, June 17 (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Where: Gateway Center, 1 Gateway Drive, Collinsville.
Tickets: $20 per person, available at the door or pre-purchase by contacting Ainad Shrine at 618-874-1870.
Proceeds to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children – St. Louis
The Gateway Men’s Chorus will perform June 17 at the Gateway Center in Edwardsville, with proceeds benefiting the Shriners Hospitals for Children – St. Louis.
Morgan Swanner, an Edwardsville High School student, is scheduled to give a presentation at the concert as a patient ambassador, speaking about her experiences being treated at Shriners Hospital.
In 2015, Shriners Hospitals for Children – St. Louis moved into a new building along Interstate 64
The St. Louis hospital specializes in pediatric orthopedic care as well as research into muscular and skeletal conditions.