VARIETY Southern Nevada has served more than 20,000 children and raised and distributed more than $7,000,000 in grants and specialized equipment in our community.
History of Variety Southern Nevada
As Las Vegas continued to transform from a small gambling town into a major metropolis, one thing remains unchanged: The business of entertainment is the driving force behind Las Vegas’ success. No city in the world can claim a greater tie to show business than Las Vegas, and no story of our city’s rich, vibrant history would be complete without noting the vast contributions of those in the show business industry that have made our community home. And at the very heart of it all is Variety.
Affectionately called “The Heart of Show Business”— and for good reason—Variety The Children’s Charity of Southern Nevada was founded in 1950 with the mission to build and staff what would be the first school in Southern Nevada for children with special needs.
Through the generosity of stars like Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Vincent Price and Jane Russell; the hard work of Chief Barker Ben Goffstein; and the kind words and endorsements from community members like Hank Greenspun; the Variety School for Special Education opened its doors in 1952.
And from there, Variety blossomed, becoming Las Vegas’ most recognizable and respected charity for years to come. In December of 1952, Jack Benny made his first appearance in a “supper club” to support Variety. In April, Las Vegas hosted Variety’s International Convention and the whole town got involved. Businesses welcomed conventioneers with signs and streamers; downtown Las Vegas hosted a parade at which tens of thousands crammed the sidewalks to see their favorite performers; and Variety’s “Night of Stars” took over Cashman Field and became the toughest ticket in town.
Soon, Variety was the talk of the town. Stars like Sammy Davis, Jr., Ed Sullivan, Carol Channing and Jane Powell filled rooms at the Silver Slipper, Thunderbird and Flamingo Hotels to aid Variety’s mission to improve the quality of life for children with special needs. With community support overflowing, Variety opened the Variety Day Home in 1956 to accommodate the child care needs of low-income working families. And not far behind were the John F. Miller School, Sunshine Coach Program, and Bikes for Kids Program, all of which still bring smiles to the faces of children in our community today.