White Hot: SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital
Hooves pounding, mallets striking a ball, excited guests cheering—these are the sounds of Glennon Gallop, the annual polo match and party thrown by SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. Held in support of the Danis Pediatric Center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon, the Sept. 16 event provides a day of fun for all ages.
“We basically build a small city on the Kräftig Polo Club field in Defiance and call it ‘A White Hot Affair’ because everyone wears white,” says Sandy Koller, vice president of philanthropy for the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation. “The women put on hats, and it’s very glamorous. Everyone enjoys not being in the usual gala ballroom and instead, breathing fresh air in the country.” This year, the band Pik’n Lik’n will perform, and a silent and live auction will keep the party atmosphere going. “There also will be Retail Row with vendors selling fashionable items—ties, hats, all kinds of fun things you can wear that day,” Koller adds. A huge tent will accommodate several hundred VIP guests as they enjoy champagne, a mid-match divot stomp and more.
Koller says guests have a choice of ticket prices. VIP ticketholders can access the party tent with live music, auctions, vendors, champagne and more. Field-side guests can either bring their own food or purchase it from on-site food trucks. VIP tickets are $150 per person and $1,500 per table, and field-side tickets are $25 per carload. VIP gates open at 1 p.m.; for other guests, gates open at 3 p.m., and the match starts at 4 p.m. The event also features fun activities for kids.
Polo ponies and teams appear courtesy of the St. Louis Polo Club, says Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard attorney Peter von Gontard, who co-chairs the event with his wife, Susie, and Chrissy and Mike Nardini. Putting on a polo match is quite an elaborate production, he notes. “The eight players change horses during the match, and each player brings a minimum of six. So at least 50 horses are needed, and there are usually around 75,” he says. “You need staff to transport and handle the animals, and then there’s all of the tack, clothing, equipment and trailers.”
But von Gontard says the effort is well worth it to support an important cause.
While a great time is had by all in the festive field atmosphere, Koller says everyone stays mindful of the event’s purpose—to help area children stay healthy and strong. “The Danis Pediatric Center provides full access to health care without regard to a family’s ability to pay,” she notes. “It was designed to help 5,000 patients annually, but it’s now serving about 21,000 per year. The center doesn’t turn anyone away.”
Funds raised by the Glennon Gallop will help expand the center to serve even more children. The presenting sponsor for this year’s event is the T. Danis Charitable Trust; A. Bommarito Wines, Kräftig Brewery, the St. Louis Polo Club, Fabick Cat and McAlister’s Deli are sponsors as well.
“We celebrated the hospital’s 60th anniversary last year,” Koller says. “Bringing our mission to the excitement of the polo field is a great way to connect more people with Cardinal Glennon. We want to remind the community that we are staying at the forefront of children’s health care and sharing our vision for the next 60 years.”
The 2017 Glennon Gallop supports the Danis Pediatric Center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. Pictured on cover, front row: Peter and Susie Von Gontard, Alayna Sansone; Second Row: Mike Nardini, Dominic Sansone, Chrissy Nardini; Third Row: Matt and Ashley Carr, Maria Sansone. For more information, call 314.577.5605 or visit glennon.org/gallop.
Cover Design by Allie Bronsky | Cover Photo by Tim Parker Photography