Plenty of Play Will Balance the Science, Education at STS 2021

No event is complete without a social aspect. So even though the virtual format of STS 2021 prevents attendees from being physically together under the same roof, there still will be many opportunities to creatively gather and have some fun. 

The beloved STS social and wellness events will be a significant part of the weekend—woven throughout the 3 days—and offer the chance to participate in interactive shows and various workouts, as well as mix and mingle over coffee, cooking, and cocktails. 

The events are free and open to all meeting attendees. 


The Second City Improv 
A live show from the legendary improvisational comedy group, The Second City, will welcome attendees on the first night of the meeting. 

The evening will be full of excitement and entertainment, with customized comedy material made up of original scenes crafted by The Second City writers and based on the day-to-day life of the cardiothoracic surgery audience. Additionally, the show will feature special guest appearances by STS leadership and opportunities for interaction. And just in case more laughs are needed, the revue also will include "best of" Second City sketches and improvisation—all carefully chosen to fit the STS audience. 

Family Trivia 
Saturday night is the perfect time for a game night! 

Family Trivia is another event being offered to STS 2021 attendees, and it’s free and will be fun for the whole family. 

This virtual trivia event is hosted by a live, experienced host and scored in real-time. The game can be played individually, with others in the household, or attendees can form a team and play virtually with others. No matter what, a team name and a team captain must be selected.

The open-ended questions will require reason, not just recall, making it easier for everyone to play, no matter the level of trivia knowledge. The Family Trivia competition will test participants’ knowledge in entertainment, music, sports, geography, science, history, and pop culture. 

Before the main event, attendees will have the opportunity to get familiar with the technology and virtual setup, which will be via an STS private game on YouTube Live. A chat function also will be available.

Discussion with First Woman to Kayak the Amazon
What is an “expedition mindset,” and why is it important in every walk of life? 

Don’t miss this 1-hour conversation on Saturday night with adventurer, record-setter, and boundary-breaker Darcy Gaechter, who will lend inspiration and offer useful insight on how to overcome challenges.

Gaechter will take attendees along on her extraordinary and inspiring expedition to becoming the first woman to kayak the entire Amazon River—a feat that required paddling over more than 4,000 miles and 148 days. 

From tackling raging Class Five whitewater to cutting her hair in hopes of passing for a boy and being less of a target in Peru’s notoriously dangerous “Red Zone,” her heart-pounding journey will demonstrate how to find courage and strength when challenging yourself and pushing your personal limits. Gaechter will explain how having an “expedition mindset”—expecting the unexpected and seeing obstacles as opportunities for success rather than chances for failure—is key to any success. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in an interactive questions and answers session.

Cocktails and Cooking

Guac with a Doc
The 1-hour live “Guac with a Doc: A Guacamole Cooking Demonstration” is BYOA—Bring Your Own Avocados! So ahead of its scheduled slot on Saturday night, attendees will receive a shopping list and recipe card (via email). 

A professional, entertaining, and experienced chef from the RK Culinary Group in San Antonio, Texas, will provide coaching and expertise so that participants can do the cooking with confidence. 

The chef will guide the audience through every step of making next-level guacamole, while offering master smart cooking techniques, tips, and tricks. This cooking experience is fully interactive so attendees can ask questions and receive feedback in real-time. 

The recipes are flexible so they can be modified to fit specific needs. No more than 10 ingredients and no special equipment will be required; though it might help to have handy a molcajete (a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic rock—one of the world's oldest kitchen tools). 

Bourbon with a Surgeon
Another option on Saturday night is the “Bourbon with a Surgeon: Hot Toddy Cocktail Class.” This fully interactive virtual cocktail class—led by two top-rated bourbon experts from the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau—will help attendees master the art of cocktail making from home. 

The mixologists will demonstrate how to craft a “Hot Toddy” made with bourbon, while also sharing bartender secrets on shaking and stirring other classic and unique concoctions. Participants will be able to explore the versatility of this barrel-aged distilled spirit, discovering how the same ingredients are used in multiple recipes and how different techniques yield different results. The class also will cover the health benefits of bourbon as well as its history as a “medicinal spirit.” 

Recipes and the ingredient lists will be provided before the class.

Workouts, Wellness, and Meditation

Peloton Rides
Those who are part of the Peloton community will have the opportunity to sweat it out and stay inspired with colleagues by participating in live group cycling rides—one each day of the meeting (Friday-Sunday). 

The competition will be fierce, with real-time rankings available on the leaderboard. Along the way, riders can cheer on each other with high fives! By tapping the image circle next to a leaderboard name, participants can send a fellow rider a dose of virtual encouragement. This will send a notification that will pop up on the left side of the screen during class and the same will happen if someone sends one back. It’s a great way to support fellow riders and colleagues.

Make sure to add the tag #STSPelotoners and set it as the primary “leaderboard tag.” This will allow riders to be a part of the STS-exclusive group on the leaderboard and swarm these classes. 

The class details, including class type, instructor, and time, will be announced 2 weeks before STS 2021.

Yoga, HIIT, and Meditation
Each morning of the meeting will feature a selection of various yoga, HIIT, and stress management classes. In addition, a virtual Mindfulness Lounge will be available live every morning and on demand throughout the meeting. Via this “lounge,” a well-being expert will provide easily digestible training on mind-body-spirit wellness, stress relieving mindfulness and meditation techniques, as well as experiential relaxation exercise and guided visualization. When the lounge is live, 30 minutes of interactive questions and answers also will be available.

TSF Virtual Fun Run & Walk 5K 
The Thoracic Surgery Foundation—the Society’s charitable arm—is hosting a Virtual 5K Fun Run & Walk. This event provides an opportunity to stay active, engage with the cardiothoracic surgery community, and take part in some healthy competition.

This virtual race gives runners and walkers the flexibility to participate:

  • Any day and time from January 22 to January 31
  • At any pace
  • In any location—in the house on a treadmill or outside in the neighborhood

Times will be based on the honor system and will be uploaded and compared with those of other participants. Race results will be shared on a leaderboard during STS 2021 and on social media, with special recognition given to high achievers. Don’t forget to post photos on social media, using the following hashtags: #STS2021 and #TSF5K.

The cost is $50 (a portion is tax deductible), and each participant will receive a special TSF Fun Run & Walk t-shirt, which will be shipped to those who live in the United States or Canada. All proceeds will support the Foundation’s cardiothoracic surgery research and education programs. Sign up at




If you haven’t registered yet for STS 2021, there still is time to secure your spot. More information is available at