For many of us, St. Louis and Cardinals Nation are practically synonymous, and it’s our connection to this great city that makes up an integral part of who we are. We love our toasted ravioli and Provel cheese, we’ve visited the Arch more times than we can count, and we’re not ashamed of our undying loyalty to the Redbirds. We’re fortunate to have great men and role models play for our St. Louis Cardinals.
One such player is beloved Cardinals left-fielder, Matt Holliday. Matt and his wife Leslee have made St. Louis their home for many years now, and in that time, they’ve made a difference that extends well beyond the field. The Hollidays are the driving force behind the successful Homers for Health and K’s for Kids program. This season-long pledge program benefits patients and families at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, and has raised more than $2.7 million in just four years to help patients and their families through difficult times.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with Leslee Holliday and learn more about their work with SSM Health Cardinal Glennon. Plus, I was able to get a glimpse into the family life and exquisite home of one of the Cardinals’ most prominent players. When Matt Holliday signed with the Cardinals seven years ago, Leslee felt a great need to give back to the community. His signing with the organization was a humbling experience, compelling Leslee to do everything she could to show their gratitude. “I want to give back to this community because I’m just so proud to be here,” said Leslee.“ I have pride for the city and organization, and I wanted to represent it the best way I could.”
Leslee and Matt were blown away by SSM Health Cardinal Glennon and their mission. It’s a simple concept that requires an unmeasurable amount of work and support. If your child is sick, but you can’t afford medical care, it’s the hospital’s responsibility and privilege to
provide the best doctors and medical care to your child, regardless of your family’s financial status.
Since 2012, the Hollidays have been working to make their mission possible. By pledging to donate for every home run hit by a Cardinals player, or every strikeout thrown by a pitcher, supporters of Homers for Health and K’s for Kids have made a huge impact on the lives of patients and their families. Pledges start at 25 cents per home run and just 5 cents per strikeout, but there’s no limit to what you can give to this incredible cause.
Led by Leslee, the Cardinal wives also put on the annual Homers for Health Game Shows, hosted at Ballpark Village, to raise money for the hospital. In front of a live studio audience, Cardinals players participate in hilarious game shows. It’s a night full of laughter and fun where fans get to see some of their favorite players off of the field. This year, Leslee and Matt will be playing in the Wed to Red game, based off of the well-known Newlywed Game. Other games include Clubhouse Feud, a version of Family Feud where the hitters and pitchers face-off for some side-splitting entertainment.
There will be plenty of audience participation, auction items, and a mystery photo booth where attendees will be able to take pictures with some of the players. This summer, the event will be held on June 16, and tickets can be purchased at glennon.org.
“It’s a fun, light evening that raises at lot of money for Cardinal Glennon,” said Leslee. Proceeds from this year’s Homers for Health Game Shows will be used to meet the immediate needs of the hospital, including renovating the oncology floor. With the funds, the hospital will be able to build private bathrooms for each room and create plenty of space for parents to stay overnight with their children. With enough money, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon will be able to brighten up the floor with a beach themed environment and provide some fun features for the kids to make their stay as comfortable as possible.
During their first year with the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation, Leslee and Matt were asked to meet a young baseball fan in the hospital, Maggie Bohannan. She was close in age to one of their own children, and the decision to face the pain and reality these families go through every day was difficult, but after meeting the young girl, the Hollidays pledged to meet as many children as possible.
“I met eyes with her mother and said, ‘I’m all in. I’m going to do everything I can to raise money for this place because this matters,’”
said Leslee. That same little girl is in high school today and is doing very well. Her mother, Karen, is one of Leslee’s dearest friends. It’s that kind of compassion and generosity that makes the Hollidays such an incredible family. Leslee and Matt have been together for 17 years and have four beautiful children—three boys and a girl. Together with their helper, Hannah, the Hollidays manage their busy schedules by taking it one day at a time. Even with everything she has on her plate, Leslee is also working towards a degree in Biblical Studies. It’s her hope to eventually create a ministry that caters to the specific needs and schedules of the wives of professional athletes.
For now, Leslee holds bible study at her home and at Busch Stadium for baseball wives.
“Our faith is what anchors us,” said Leslee.”
At the end of the day, baseball isn’t where our identity lies.” For the Matt and many of the other Cardinal players, it’s a privilege and an honor to be a part of a professional baseball team, but without their faith, it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable. Their faith and passion for giving back to St. Louis is what makes Leslee and Matt such great assets to the city.
A Closer Look into the Holliday Home
Both Leslee and Matt are originally from Oklahoma, but despite the many miles between, the couple has managed to make their St. Louis residence their go-to spot to feel warm, cozy, and right at home. The rustic and old world style of the house might surprise some Cardinal fans. We’re all used to Matt’s quiet, intense presence on the field, but the home he and Leslee have created really speaks to the humble, average guy behind that serious game face.
Leslee and Matt make one incredible pair, and it’s no question that Leslee’s sweet and caring personality gives a special spark to both her husband and her home. There’s a simple elegance and soft touch throughout every room that just begs for guests to grab a cup of coffee and make themselves at home. On over three acres, their sprawling 1.5 story home is private and so very unique. The land gives their kids the space to play and practice different sporting skills, a feature they just love, while also providing the Holliday family with room to get away and relax.
It’s the details that really stand out in the Holliday home. From repurposed wood beams and stonework to the unique 12-inch plank wood flooring throughout the main level, this home stands out not for its size or grandeur, but for its attention to detail, beautiful décor, and it’s simple, sophisticated features. The large living space on the main level really exemplifies the style of the home. It’s bright and open with an enormous window spanning the entire length and height of the far wall. The focal point of the room is a gorgeous stone fireplace with built-in shelving on either side. The wood work of the beams and window trim pair perfectly with the room’s unique chandelier. Every detail is clean and purposeful, making the subtle pops of color in the furniture and art really stand out.
The charm of the home’s rustic-style continues into both the kitchen and dining rooms. The earthy features of the stone and wide-plank floors bring a bright warmth to each space. Natural light pours in from large windows throughout the main level, highlighting the unconventional elegance of each distinctive detail of the home. In the basement, the wood flooring matches a custom pool table made entirely of repurposed wood. This gathering space is comfortable and laid-back. A large stone fireplace adds a rustic, cozy feel that’s perfect for quiet nights spent at home. Through stunning archways built into a barrel ceiling of stone sits a comfortable living area with a bar space, large couch, and a television fit for snuggling up and watching a big game. With a #7 pillow on the couch, their Cardinal pride blends effortlessly into the décor.
Out back, there’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a quiet oasis. Complete with natural-looking features and stonework, the water looks more like a small lake than a pool. Their easy-going, rustic style continues outside throughout the outdoor bar area. The stone floors and wood beams are lovely and flow nicely into an open-air dining space set with a large table that’s framed by a beautiful brick wall.
The Rick & Tracy Ellis team is so grateful Leslee and Matt gave us a chance to share their passions and their home in this issue. With the Homers for Health program and their dedication to giving back to a city that’s been a source of great blessings, the Holliday family has given so much more to St. Louis than home runs, strong throws, and great plays. They are two very compassionate people with such huge hearts. It’s easy to see fame hasn’t gone to their heads. Instead, Leslee and Matt have used their position to promote the importance of caring for others while remaining humble and down to earth. We sure hope they always call St. Louis home, but no matter where the future takes them, it’s safe to say they’ve made a lasting mark on our great city and our hearts.