Cover Stories

Time to Shine: Friends of Kids with Cancer

Young patients at area hospitals have a special ally in Friends of Kids with Cancer. The nonprofit has been around for nearly three decades,brightening children’s lives as they undergo cancer therapy. Its educational,recreational and emotional support programs allow patients to build strength and self-esteem during and after treatment. With the help of health professionals, staff,volunteers and generous St. Louisans who support the organization, kids can restassured they are never in the fight alone.

Executive director Brandy Bimslager says one of the most meaningful ways people can get involved is by purchasing tickets to the nonprofit’s annual Fashion Show & Boutique fundraiser. This year, it is scheduled for Nov. 11 at The Ritz-Carlton. “The two-part event features lunch and dinner fashion shows and items for sale from local shops,” Bimslager says. “It raises a significant amount for our programs and is a major portion of our yearly budget.” The shows feature fall clothing and accessories from Mister Guy and Dillards and shoes from Famous Footwear. Young patients walk the runway as fashion models and get to keep a few of their favorite items. They are treated to a red carpet experience with gifts, hairstyling, makeup and photos, and each child’s family receives a complimentary stay at the hotel.

At the evening show, there will be some extra excitement. Members of the St. Louis Blues will be in attendance, mingling with fans and getting to know the kids. “Players will escort our models on the runway,” Bimslager says. “This is the team’s second year of involvement, and they have been wonderful partners. It’s such a thrilling experience for the kids to meet them, especially after this year’s Stanley Cup championship.”

KSDK anchor Anne Allred and Fox sportscaster Jim Hayes will take the stage as emcees, cancer survivors will share their stories, and Mercy oncologist Dr. Rob Hanson will speak. There will be special tributes to military veterans, a designer handbag raffle at the luncheon event, and silent and live auctions at the evening soiree. And for guests looking to do a little holiday shopping, the boutiques will offer clothes, jewelry, home products, accessories and gifts. Moneta is Runway Sponsor, and Golden Oak Lending is the Spotlight Sponsor.

Shopping gets under way at 10 a.m., lunch is at 11:30 a.m., and the first fashion show follows. In the evening, guests can enjoy shopping and cocktails at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and the second fashion show and auctions afterward. “We often have former patients buy a table each year to celebrate with family and friends,” Bimslager says. “They always refer to it as an unforgettable experience. It’s gratifying to see how the event has grown over the years, both in the number of guests and the funds raised.”

According to Bimslager, the shows don’t just generate dollars; they also raise an abundance of joy, hope and well-being for young patients and their families. “It’s a fun, incredible day,” she says. “St. Louis is such a philanthropic, community-driven city. This is an amazing way for people to show their commitment and see how their support makes a difference. It’s exciting to cheer for the runway models as they enjoy the spotlight and forget about their treatment for a day. They get a chance to shine, their personalities really come through, and each one can enjoy just being a kid.

Friends of Kids with Cancer helps pediatric patients at Mercy, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, providing educational, recreational and emotional support during and after treatment. The organization will hold its annual luncheon and dinner fashion shows Nov. 11 at the Ritz-Carlton. Pictured on the cover: Fashion show models with Louie, the St. Louis Blues Mascot, and show producer Marilyn Hanish. For more information, call 314.275.7440  or visit

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography

Pictured at top: Fashion show models with Louie, the St. Louis Blues mascot
Photo: Tim Parker Photography