History of the Phestival
The Phillies and The ALS Association became partners 36 years ago. Two indomitable women made it happen.
Malvina Charlestein, mother of Ellyn Phillips, the Chapter’s Board Chair whose husband Alan had ALS, met Nancy Giles and convinced her that, “ALS belonged in baseball.” After a meeting with Nancy’s husband, Bill, who was then President of the Club, the Chapter became the charity of the Phillies Wives. A dinner and fashion show was held featuring the Wives and their husbands strolling down the runway from 1984-1988. The first event raised $28,000. For the Chapter, whose income the previous year had been $4,500, that was extraordinary!
In 1989, the Phillies began the tradition of the annual Autograph Party and Auction. A small group of Phillies employees worked year-round to plan the event. Participating were the players, wives, coaches, manager and special guests. Phillies ownership, management, front office and game-day staff volunteered. The first event featured autograph and photo booths, grab bags, a dunk tank, games, and an auction. The event raised a staggering $310,000!
Over the years, the name changed to the Phillies Phestival and, to date, $19 million has been raised for ALS care services and research. Hall of Famers who have attended over the years include: Richie Ashburn, Jim Bunning, Steve Carlton, Pat Gillick, Roy Halladay, Harry Kalas, Cal Ripken, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith, and Jim Thome.
As the principal charity of the Phillies, our bond with the team has strengthened demonstrably as the staff and players have come to know our patients, and vice versa. In November of last year, it was our pleasure to honor the 35th anniversary of this unique, cherished partnership.