St. Louis (July 26, 2018) – Variety International presented top honors to local philanthropist Judy Jones and Ameren Corporation during its 2018 world conference earlier this summer. Variety St. Louis also won the Mort Sunshine Award for Electronic Excellence.
Jones, awarded the 2018 Presidential Citation Award, has been a friend to Variety St. Louis for many years and was honored as Woman of the Year in 2016. Jones is a strong believer in helping children with special needs reach their own potential, as well as spreading a message of inclusion throughout the area.
This is why she and her late husband, Dennis Jones, stepped in as the lead contributors to the Dennis and Judith Jones Variety Wonderland Playground – an inclusive playground in St. Louis’ Forest Park. The half-acre oasis was designed for children of all ages and abilities to play together.
Ameren Corporation is dedicated to powering the quality of life for individuals and families throughout the communities it serves. For more than a decade, the “Ameren Power Kids”program has brought the latest technology in medical equipment to Variety Kids. Since 2003, more than 70 Variety Kids have received power wheelchairs thanks to Ameren gifts.
“I am inspired by the powerful impact Variety makes in the lives of children,” said Warner Baxter, chairman, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Ameren Corporation. “Ameren has proudly supported the organization for more than thirty years, giving children in need the chance to experience a more active and independent life. We share the same commitment of making our communities better and a brighter places to live.”
These gifts are crucial to the livelihood of the children they serve. Power chairs give kids increased mobility and independence, improving overall quality of life.
Many of Ameren’s top leaders have dedicated their time and resources to ensuring Variety Kids reach their full potential. Baxter currently serves as president of the Variety Board of Directors and was named Variety’s Man of the Year in 2017. Tom Voss, past Ameren president and CEO, was awarded the same distinction in 2014.
The Mort Sunshine Award for Electronic Excellence is awarded yearly to one of the 41 Variety chapters in 11 countries worldwide for outstanding communications. Variety St. Louis sends a print annual appeal during the traditional “Season of Giving” between Thanksgiving and the new year each year. This year, for the first time, the chapter backed the printed piece with a strong digital effort.
The printed piece featured the story of 18-year-old Gracie Gibson and her journey with Variety since before her first birthday. The mailing was distributed the week after Thanksgiving to coincide with a new digital appeal campaign on “Giving Tuesday,” leveraging the movement online. Not only did this campaign raise funds for Variety kids like Gracie, it also increased awareness for Variety.
Variety empowers children with physical and developmental disabilities, also referred to as children with special needs, and improves their quality of life. Our programs highlight ability rather than disability. This holistic approach gives access to critical medical equipment and therapies, along with innovative Camp and Performing Arts programs, which provide opportunities for recreation, socialization, and artistic expression. Children gain or maintain independence, boost socialization among their friends and family, demonstrate belief in themselves, and increase skills they need to engage their world as fully as possible.