Blues Catch Disco Fever
Players, coaches gather for team's third annual Casino Night
Monday, 02.1.2010 / 2:32 PM CT / St Louis Blues - Features
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues
Her husband, Danny, was sitting nearby and insisted the dealer had been cheating.
"By now I should have lost $8,000," Michelle said. "He has been helping me out. He's awesome."
Michelle's dealer was Blues captain Eric Brewer. The $4,000 she lost was fake money. Everyone around her was wearing big hair, sunglasses that were way too large for their faces, platform shoes and a colorful (often loud) wardrobe. The only thing 'real' about Sunday was the cause everyone had gathered to support: the St. Louis Blues 14 Fund and Ranken Jordan Pediatric Specialty Hospital.
The Casino Night, which was named Sunday Night Fever, raised more than $70,000. The money will be donated to both organizations.
For nearly five hours Sunday, fans mingled with players, ate dinner and gambled for charity. The Scottrade Center floor was turned into a 1970's disco, complete with mood lighting, plush white leather couches and plenty of Andy Warhol-style popart. The event was presented by United Fruit and Produce Co.
Blues forward Cam Janssen certainly played the part. He wore white jeans, sunglasses and a disco ball earring.
"It's overall a great thing to do. We're raising a lot of money for charity and we're having a good time," said Janssen. "Everybody's gambling and meeting with the players and people in the organization. I think it's great for everybody."
Coach Davis Payne said he was impressed with the event.
"When you have 20,000 people showing up to watch you work, if we can give something back that make's somebody's life a little bit better, it's a no-brainer for us," he said. "For our guys, the way they've embraced this night and got behind it with the costumes and really showed a willingness to be here to raise money for the 14 Fund and all of its benefactors, it's a great evening and a great statement by our guys.
"Ultimately, it's what we all should do."
Jerry Pisarek has been a Blues fan since 1967 and said he didn't have much luck at the casino this year, either.
"I lost it all, that's how my luck goes," he said. "That's why I don't go to casinos."
But Pisarek knows that wasn't really the point of Sunday's event.
"It's really neat that the Blues are really oriented towards the community. That's a really cool thing," he said. "It's a phenomenal deal and that's why we come."
The Blues 14 Fund was originally established by players and alumni more than 12 years ago when former player Doug Wickenheiser was in the midst of a battle with lung and brain cancer. Wickenheiser, who scored perhaps the most memorable goal in franchise history, was 37 years old when he passed away in 1999. Since then, the Blues 14 Fund has continued to raise money to support cancer research with children.
Ranken Jordan Pediatric Specialty Hospital is one of a handful of hospitals in the country that provides rehabilitation for children regardless of their family's ability to pay. They help bridge the gap between traditional hospital treatment and going home.
"Fans do not want to miss this event each and every year," said Blues broadcaster Chris Kerber. "It's one of the best that we do, the guys are great and it's certainly one of the most fun."