Glennon Giving As A Family Tradition
Written By Johnny Fugitt
Photographed By Suzy Gorman
Bloodlines matter in equine sports. Stud fees from champion racers often outpace earnings from track purses. The world’s top polo player, Argentina’s Adolfo Cambiaso, famously clones his favorite polo ponies. Bloodlines are also important for humans. Genes certainly influence our prospects to make it professionally in athletics, but, more importantly, genes are fundamental to family and, thus, purpose, support, community and love.
The 7th annual Glennon Gallop, to be held September 21st at the Kräftig Polo Club in Defiance, MO, is a family affair, but one that would have seemed unlikely three generations ago. Peter Danis lost both parents at an early age so he was raised by his grandmother until she passed away when Peter was just 12. The Jesuit education offered by Saint Louis University drew Peter from the state of Washington to study medicine. After receiving his diploma in 1931, he stayed in St. Louis to become the first pediatric resident at St. Mary’s Hospital. After World War II, Dr. Danis was one of the founding physicians for a new medical facility created to serve any St. Louis area children in need of medical care. The new hospital was Cardinal Glennon Memorial Hospital for Children, named to honor the St. Louis Archbishop who served for more than 40 years and who died shortly after becoming a Cardinal in 1946.
Today, his granddaughter, Dr. Heidi Sallee, continues the family tradition of serving St. Louis area children as Medical Director at the Danis Pediatric Center bearing her grandfather’s name. “I see my work as a pediatrician as a vocation,” says Dr. Sallee. “I am called to help parents raise healthy children and improve the family's overall well-being. Being with children energizes me. Seeing the difference that I can make, having my former patients bring their new children to see me is very gratifying.”
The Danis Pediatric Center currently facilitates more than 22,000 patient visits per year. With growing demand, expansions of both physical spaces and services are needed and in the works. Additionally, the Center trains 175 medical students and 60 pediatric residents, many of whom become pediatricians in the St. Louis area. The reach of the Center is wide and has likely touched, in some known or unknown way, the lives of most St. Louisans.
This provision of services, physical expansion and training the next generation of care providers is only possible through dedicated community support. With 1,200 attendees last year, Glennon Gallop is the most attended annual fundraising event for the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation. The 2019 Glennon Gallop promises to be bigger and better than ever.
Another granddaughter of Dr. Danis and cousin of Dr. Sallee, Claire Todorovich, is co-chairing this year’s Glennon Gallop along with her husband, Michael, and Molly and Doug Sansone. For Todorovich, the event is an opportunity to remember and honor her grandfather and his mission to help under-served children. But she isn’t solely focused on previous generations as the hospital impacted her family in another very personal way. “One of our daughters was treated at Cardinal Glennon at a young age for a heart defect and the doctors and personnel at Cardinal Glennon were truly amazing,” says Todorovich. “We cannot express in words how much we appreciate them. We simply love Cardinal Glennon, its mission and its people and we are honored to be a part of the Glennon Gallop to help raise funds and awareness.”
When the Glennon Gallop began in 2013, it included the polo match, auctions and hors d’oeuvres. It has grown over the years with the addition of a lunch buffet, row of boutique retailers and additional entertainment. This year’s pre-match tailgate will feature live music from a previous SSM Health Cardinal Glennon patient’s band.
Unfamiliar with polo or perhaps even a bit intimidated by it? This event is the perfect introduction to the sport in a casual setting filled with plenty of other activities and entertainment. “Watching the beauty and strength of the horses and the battle of the match is thrilling,” says Todorovich. Dr. Sallee adds, “It’s just a fun day outside, to spend with friends, supporting a worthy cause and learning a little something new. Also, there will be good food and wine, and even shopping.”
The dress code is flexible, but this is an opportunity to show off favorite pastels, cocktail dresses and hats. Pro tip from Todorovich: the event takes place on the grassy polo grounds, so for women, flats or wedges are recommended over heels.
Additional committee members for the event include Dr. Matt Broom, Ashley and Matt Carr, Tim Danis, Erin and Tony Estopare, Diana Ford, Marti Gurley, Dr. Ken Haller, Amy and Joe Hertwick, Scott Johnson, Dr. John Peter, Dr. Heidi Sallee, Christina and Tim Schellhardt, Elaine Smith, Susie and Peter von Gontard and Dr. Jason Werner.
The event is hosted by the Saint Louis Polo Club and the doctors of Danis Pediatric Center. The White Hot Presenting Sponsor is the T. Danis Charitable Trust. The trust was started by twin brothers Tim and Tom Danis, two of Dr. Danis’ eleven children and, as Todorovich explains, “is funded by them for the purpose of improving the lives of children and adolescents through education and healthcare.” Other key sponsors include the William K. Busch Brewing Company, A. Bommarito Wines, Fabick Cat, Sandberg Phoenix & Von Gontard P.C. and Heartlands Building Company.
More information may be found at glennon.org/gallop.