By Kat Riddler, Editor-In-Chief
Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis named Ameren chairman and CEO Warner Baxter, a University of Missouri-St. Louis alumnus and St. Louis volunteer Carol Voss as Variety’s 2017 Man and Woman of the Year. Baxter is the first UMSL alumnus named for this award since the creation of the awards in 1971.
Baxter has served more than 20 years at Ameren. He is a member of the University of Missouri–St. Louis Chancellors Council and he serves on the University of Missouri 100 Board.
He is a member of the board of directors of the Edison Electric Institute, vice chair for the Electric Power Research Institute, and serves on the management committee of The Edison Foundation’s Institute for Electric Innovation. He is the board chair of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and sits on the executive committee of Civic Progress St. Louis. Baxter also serves on the board of U.S. Bancorp. Additional boards he serves include Barnes Jewish Hospital and The Muny.
Baxter is actively involved with several charitable organizations. These include serving as council member of the American Cancer Society’s Coaches vs. Cancer National Board and as chair of the St. Louis Chapter of CEOs Against Cancer of Missouri.
Baxter and Voss were honored at the Dinner with the Stars event held on April 29 at the Peabody Opera House. The headliner for the event was legendary singer/songwriter, 5-time Grammy award winner, and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree James Taylor. Taylor signed on with Apple Records in 1968 and was able to sit in on sessions with The Beatles. He was very nervous when he played his first record label song “Something in the Way She Moves.” He said, “I was nervous as a chihuahua on methamphetamine.”
Also during the event the event, Variety the Children’s Charity asked to raise $250,000 for a six-year-old with cerebral palsy, Josh. The charity helps parents to provide power chairs and other equipment that parents might not be able to afford. Brian Roy, Variety’s executive director, said, “There are so many kids to help and so many milestones to achieve.”
Josh’s father said, “Our greatest hope is to eliminate as many barriers as possible.” The power chair would help give Josh and other children independence and socialization opportunities according to Roy.
Boston, another child, was autistic. Certain carseats disturbed his sensory issues. Boston’s parents found one that worked for him, but the insurance would not pay for the seat. Insurance called the carseat a “convenience item.” According to Roy, the average cost to cover a child with special needs per year is between $15,000 and $30,000.
By the end of the event, they had reached and surpassed their goal during the night.
Variety the Children’s Charity serves children with physical and developmental disabilities in the St. Louis region from infancy to age 21. Since 1932, the organization focuses on five core areas to help kids become independent and productive. Each year Variety honors one man and one woman who play an active role in shaping the St. Louis community for the better.
For more information, visit www.varietystl.org.