In 2010, 2-year-old Ella McPheeters was diagnosed with autism. Her parents, Hope and Sam, soon became frustrated with the long waiting lists for behavioral-therapy programs and other services and decided to do something about it. They rallied the local community and won a Pepsi Refresh Project grant to found Ella's Hope for Autism. Ella’s Hope aims to raise awareness of autism and increase the availability of therapeutic resources for young children with autism-spectrum disorders. Working with the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Ella's Hope also sponsors scholarships for families and maintains an autism lending library.
For more than 25 years, The St. Louis Funny Bone has hosted national touring acts and local comedic talent in its cozy club for diverse 90-minute stand-up sets. While headlining jokesters dominate weekend slots, humorous hopefuls can sign up for Tuesday night open mics. During open mics, 12 to 20 performers test out their material in four-minute slots. The club strictly adheres to the time constraint, reprimanding participants who exceed 240 seconds with a month-long ban from the club and a nuggie administered by the nearest carrot top. Up to 300 attendees per show can witness these plunders and successes while sitting in either the VIP or general admission areas. Both sections offer alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, along with appetizers such as pizza slices, chicken wings, and toasted raviolis.
In 2009, while refereeing women’s flat-track derby bouts, the founding fathers of the St. Louis GateKeepers realized they wanted a taste of the speed, adrenaline, and action found in competitive roller derby. The pair gathered a crew of like-minded skaters and, in November of that year, the GateKeepers held its first league practice. By the end of their 2012 season, the league had expanded to feature three teams, plus a travel team that defends St. Louis from out-of-town opponents hoping to claim the Arch as a trophy. Despite its expansion, the GateKeepers stands by its original mission to provide a league for the players, by the players, and welcomes men from all walks of life to try on the sport's sweat-soaked jerseys and multicolored bruises.
Everything from the pickle spears to the guacamole finds the deep fryer at Kokomos Bar and Grill. The crispy fried appetizers complement a selection of unimpeachable pub food. There's a half-pound burger with sautéed mushrooms and swiss cheese, and another one with bacon and Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce. Also on the menu are cheesesteaks and pizzas for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. For entertainment, guests can toss darts at a dartboard, arcade game, high-definition TV, or occasional live-music act.
Unlike summer etiquette lessons or math camp, four days of baseball keep kids active and healthy while teaching them social skills and confidence. Whether or not kids go on to become players, they’ll learn the importance of sportsmanship as the friendly instructors make each day fun. Balls-n-Strikes pairs one certified instructor to every six kids. This ensures that the game will not have to go into the 16th inning before your child gets a chance to bat, and also removes the need to make up additional outfield positions such as "assistant to the regional shortstop" and "human foul pole."
Named St. Louis’s Best Driving Range by the Riverfront Times in 2007, Family Golf & Learning Center earns praise as an encouraging environment in which golfers of all levels can hone their games. The lighted range boosts golfers with a second story of hitting stations stacked on top of the first that offers a bird’s-eye view, if that bird is sitting on the head of a giraffe. The range also features both real zoysia-grass tees as well as artificial-turf tees, and it stays open year-round thanks to heaters that prevent golf clubs’ handles from developing frostbite.
Once thoroughly limbered up, golfers can tee off on the par 3 course, where a maximum hole length of 160 yards allows for practice with short strokes and putting. Should self-improvement reach a plateau, the center’s instructors stand ready to help players make further strides through onsite lessons.
Course at a Glance:
The Glo Run’s 5K fun run event always takes place at night, but it doesn’t seem like it. The course is lined with black lights and lasers, and runners sport glow-in-the-dark gear from t-shirts to sunglasses. On-course DJs add to the festivities, blasting tunes as the untimed participants run, walk, or dance to the finish line. Even more DJs await them there at the glow-in-the-dark after party, which lights up the night better than a raccoon that's swallowed a flashlight.