By Tom Momberg
The kids of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children got a special treat as the hospital’s celebrity board member Nick Cannon hosted the largest annual charity concert in Times Square for the third year last week at the Hard Rock Café.
The morning before the Oct. 15 show, Cannon previewed the concert at the hospital with some of the other scheduled performers. The children had a blast as members of the Harlem Globetrotters showed them how to do a few tricks with a basketball, and Cannon’s fellow musicians played some pop favorites.
Cannon, a career entertainer from a young age, has put the concert together every year to help the hospital, its staff and its kids shine in the spotlight. On every visit he makes to the hospital, Cannon takes the time to learn each kid’s name and tries to make their lives a little happier.
“To see everybody and to see these smiles, it makes my day. You guys help me put everything into perspective, because you are the strongest people I have ever met,” Cannon said.
St. Mary’s President and CEO Edwin Simpser said Cannon’s philanthropy and care for children’s well-being are what helps the hospital to treat its kids, who often face life-threatening illness or disability.
“All of us here at St. Mary’s owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Nick Cannon and his team,” Simpser said. “Nick is a very special guy. You can see even right now, he gets down on the floor and plays with our kids every time he is here. He has dedicated an enormous amount of time to help raise St. Mary’s visibility and raise money so these special kids can get the great care we try to provide every single day.”
Giving a glimpse into the night’s concert, “Nick Cannon ROCKS Times Square for St. Mary’s Kids,” the 34-year-old film star, musician, author and comedian was joined by Grammy-winning artist Nelly, R&B singer and songwriter Kehlani, the pop group Anthem Lights, singer and dancer Amanda Dilks, as well as “American’s Got Talent” stars Alicia Michilli and the Craig Lewis Band. The show was performed in the atrium of the hospital, since some of the kids could not make it to Times Square later that night.
“This is a wonderful event that highlights the work our special staff does for our special kids every single day,” Simpser said. “We’re the place that takes these wonderful children who have been in the hospital, and we give them the best life that they can possibly have. We help them reach unlimited possibilities that they and their parents never thought they could do.”
St. Mary’s specializes in post-acute care for children with special health care needs. Based in Bayside, the system is the city’s largest care provider for kids in long term care, specialized care, rehabilitation and education.
The annual concert was a special event for the children in St. Mary’s care, but other guests, celebrities and sponsors tallied up the total turnout to about 500 attendees. JPMorgan Chase and Company was the event’s main sponsor.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb