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Mikhail Gorbachev promises an oversized check will go a long way to help sick children in Russia and the other former Soviet republics.

"It's a big check," the former Soviet president said Tuesday, joking about the large piece of cardboard from the National Children's Cancer Society that represents $25,000. "We hope to be your friends and partners now and in the future."

Gorbachev was in St. Louis with wife Raisa for an appearance in a national motivation program. He is the honorary chairman of The International Trust for Children's Health Care.

Gorbachev said that despite aid from the United States and elsewhere, the former Soviet bloc countries are critically short of pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies.

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