Harry Connick Jr. to Kick-Off Celebrations for Nationwide Childrens Hospitals New Main Campus

March 21, 2012

Nationwide Children’s Hospital is pleased to announce that Harry Connick Jr. will perform a private concert during The Opening Gala celebrating the completion of the hospital’s new main campus, the largest pediatric expansion ever undertaken in the United States. The black-tie Gala will be held the evening of Saturday, June 9, 2012 in the new main hospital building and surrounding campus. Tickets to the Gala are available for purchase on a first-come, first-serve basis and seating within the intimate venue is limited. All proceeds benefit Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Co-chairs of The Opening Gala are Cindy and Steve Rasmussen, Abigail and Leslie Wexner, and Ann and John Wolfe.

“The completion of this campus expansion has been an incredibly rewarding journey and one that will truly transform the patient and family experience at Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” said Abigail Wexner, board chair of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Gala co-chair. “Thousands have worked together for more than six years toward this moment for our community’s children and it’s incredible to realize that this major milestone in the hospital’s 120-year history is nearly here. We have much to celebrate, but our work does not stop here. We will always seek the best way to deliver outstanding patient care to our families and none of this would be possible without community-wide support.”

“We are honored to have Harry Connick Jr. for this special performance at The Opening Gala,” said co-chair Ann Wolfe. “He will be the perfect highlight to an unforgettable evening. Mr. Connick’s philanthropic efforts on behalf of New Orleans, his hometown, are admirable and his commitment to children is evidenced in so many ways including his composing and authoring of The Happy Elf musical CD and children’s book. We look forward to hosting him for this spectacular evening as we celebrate the expansion of our hometown treasure, Nationwide Children’s Hospital.”

“The entire community gives tremendous support to the hospital and Nationwide Insurance is proud to see the impact of our collective efforts to help make it one of this nation’s top hospitals for pediatric care,” said Steve Rasmussen, Nationwide CEO and Gala co-chair. “The new facilities will serve more than one million children in the first year, and every child will receive the finest care regardless of their ability to pay. The expansion of Nationwide Children’s will boost research to help find cures for the devastating diseases that continue to affect children. This community and families from across the globe will be better served as a result.”

The Opening Gala is one of three public events planned for the dedication weekend of Saturday, June 9 through Monday, June 11, 2012. Other events include a free community celebration and open house the afternoon of Sunday, June 10, and the official dedication ceremony the morning of Monday, June 11. Patients will be moved to the new main hospital on Wednesday, June 20.

Tickets to The Opening Gala begin at $1,500/person and can be purchased by calling Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation at (614) 355-0888. The Opening Gala is being totally underwritten by a number of sponsors so that all Gala proceeds with directly benefit Nationwide Children’s Hospital. For more information on the new hospital and grand opening event details, visit www.NationwideChildrens.org/grandopening.

About Harry Connick Jr.
Harry Connick Jr. is among today’s most successful and multi-talented artists, who has garnered acclaim in both the music and acting arenas. While he first reached a mass audience as a pianist, singer and bandleader, his subsequent success in theatre, film and television have secured his place in the public eye as a renaissance man and a versatile entertainer, earning him both Grammy and Emmy awards as well as Tony nominations.

His love of music and performing dates back to his childhood in New Orleans, where he studied piano with such luminaries as James Booker and Ellis Marsalis. He first performed publicly at age five, appeared on his first recording at age nine, and released his self-titled major label debut for Columbia Records at 19, only a year after his high school graduation and his move to New York City. He has since released 24 albums, totaling more than 25 million in sales, and has received numerous music honors, including three Grammy Awards.

Connick first achieved success as a musician when director Rob Reiner asked him to contribute the score to the 1989 smash When Harry Met Sally, leading to Connick's first multi-platinum album. The following year, he made his feature film acting debut in the World War II drama “Memphis Belle.” His acting credits also include Jodie Foster’s “Little Man Tate”; Jon Amiel’s “Copycat”; “Independence Day,” with Will Smith; “Hope Floats,” opposite Sandra Bullock; “Mickey,” written by John Grisham; William Friedkin’s “Bug”; Richard LaGravenese’s “P.S. I Love You,” with Hilary Swank; and “New in Town,” opposite Renée Zellweger. Most recently he starred alongside Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd in Dolphin Tale which reached #1 at the box office.

On the small screen, Connick starred in the ABC presentation of the musical “South Pacific” and played the recurring role of Grace’s love interest, Dr. Leo Markus, on the hit NBC series “Will & Grace.” In addition, he won Emmy Awards for the PBS Great Performances concert specials “Harry Connick, Jr: Only You” and “Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert on Broadway.” He also starred in two holiday specials, “When My Heart Finds Christmas” and “Harry for the Holidays,” both built around his best-selling holiday albums. One of his Christmas compositions, The Happy Elf, was the basis for a one-hour 3D animated holiday TV special which aired on NBC and became the inspiration for a full-length stage musical, a children’s picture book released by HarperCollins and the Marsalis Music instrumental album, Music From The Happy Elf.  Connick is currently guest starring on NBC’s “Law & Order SVU.”

No stranger to the New York theater scene, he returned to Broadway in the revival of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever following the sold-out, critically acclaimed 2010 run of Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre. His return to Broadway marked the 20th anniversary of his sold-out concert series at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1990. Connick received Tony nominations for his performance as Sid Sorokin in The Pajama Game which was hailed by New York Post critic Clive Barnes as “absolutely sensational” and “a Broadway deut of legendary proportions” and for the music and lyrics he composed for Thou Shalt Not which was directed by Susan Stroman.

As a New Orleans native, Connick was deeply impacted by the devastation caused by Katrina along the Gulf Coast. He teamed up with Branford Marsalis and the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity to create “Musicians’ Village,” a community in the Upper Ninth Ward which consists of 72 single-family homes and 10 elder-friendly apartments. Its centerpiece, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a performance, instruction and recording complex, dedicated to the education and development of homeowners and others who live nearby, celebrated its grand opening on August 25, 2011.

These diverse music, stage, screen and philanthropic achievements reflect a creative energy that makes Harry Connick Jr. unique in the world of contemporary entertainment.

Harry Connick Jr. 

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric health care systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.5 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at NationwideChildrens.org.