Since 1934, Variety the Children’s Charity of Greater KC has been helping children right here in our community. We’re proud of our long heritage and are working hard to continue making a difference in children’s lives and a true impact on inclusion for families today…and for decades to come.
But The Variety Club’s true calling came a few months later on Christmas Eve, 1928, when the manager of the Sheridan Square Theatre in Pittsburgh found an infant abandoned in the theatre. The baby girl had a note pinned to her clothing:
“Please take care of my baby. Her name is Catherine. I can no longer take care of her. I have eight others. My husband is out of work. She was born on Thanksgiving Day. I have always heard of the goodness of show business and I pray to God that you will look out for her.”
– A Heartbroken Mother
The Life of Catherine Variety Sheridan
She later served her country as an officer in the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict and as a registered nurse in Vietnam. Joan raised a family of her own and spent much time working with children. She took great pride in the fact that she had “started it all”. As Mrs. Joan Mrlik, she lived in Charleston, South Carolina, where she died of cancer in 1994. Her inspirational story that motivated the establishment of Variety the Children’s Charity lives on. Her memory remains strong in the hearts of every member of the Variety family.
84 Years of Heart
Variety’s first banquet was held under a “Circus Big Top” — complete with circus acts, sideshows, popcorn and cotton candy. The insignia for the affair was a mustached “barker” wearing a high silk hat. This enormously successful event was the beginning of Variety’s circus tradition: the Barker became the official logo, each chapter was called a “Tent,” its members were “Barkers,” the president, the “Chief Barker,” the treasurer, “Dough Boy,” and the secretary, “Property Master.”