When a 12-year-old boy named Tyler in SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center recorded his first song, “Faith Through My Weakness” in 2009, Maryville’s Kids Rock Cancer charity was born.
“With the only fully accredited Music Therapy program in the St. Louis area, Maryville was in a unique position to bring children at area cancer treatment centers together with a certified music therapist, who could help them use music and songwriting as a vehicle for expressing their emotions,” said Liz Haynes, Maryville’s Director of Special Programs.
On Saturday, Feb. 24, Maryville University takes on the University of Missouri-St. Louis at home for the crucial final game of the regular season in a night known as the fifth annual #1000Saints Night, a night to benefit the very charity Tyler began nine years ago.
“It’s going to be a big game on a lot of levels,” said Jim Powers, Maryville’s Coordinator of Athletic Communications. “The teams get to play the cross town rival and for the men’s team, it’s a seed game so there’s a lot on the line. They can possibly be as high as a five seed if they take care of business.”
Not only is Maryville aiming to raise $20,000 for Kids Rock Cancer, but the game will be an outlet for the children and a chance to put their creativity and musical bones to work.
“Last year our goal was $10,000 we got over $16,000, This year we raised it to $20,000,” Powers said. “The kids will get a chance to get out and perform in front of 1000 people and perform their song.”
The opposing teams are always informed of the charity long before the game and although the spirit of competition is to leave your opponent high and dry, the spirit of humanity usually takes over.
“In the past, some teams have contributed in some way and we’re hopeful that this year will be no different,” Haynes said.
In order to make an event like #1000Saints Night work year in and year out, it always requires all hands on deck.
“Number one is having a committed administration,” Powers said. “Our president Mark Lombardi is 150% on board with this great committee that works year round to make this successful. Also with the help of our title sponsor of the River Front Times. When you have all three things in the right direction it goes a long way. The students are also on board. Everybody’s going to come together.”
The sense of pride and accomplishment Maryville has in #1000Saints Night is undeniable, but the success doesn’t come from just the money raised.
“This event has been a great way to develop a spirit of philanthropy across campus among students, faculty and staff, as well as the community outside of Maryville University,” Haynes said. “The money raised is absolutely a proud accomplishment as we keep blowing through our goal each year, which keeps getting increased. Finally, the joy and pride that the rock stars experience from performing in front of the audience is certainly a highlight of the event.”
As of Wednesday, Feb 21, Kids Rock Cancer had already raised $15,769 and with a suggested donation of $5 at the door, Maryville looks to once again break their goal.
The Maryville women’s game tips off at 5 p.m.
Walker Van Wey contributed to this article and you can find him on Twitter @Walker_VanWey