Big Slick began in 2010 as a celebrity poker tournament hosted by Kansas City Natives Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd, and Jason Sudeikis. In 2014, celebrities Eric Stonestreet and David Koechner were also appointed as official co-hosts of the event. Each year the five guys invite their celebrity friends to participate in the weekend; alumni from previous years has included Selena Gomez, Will Ferrell, Johnny Knoxville, and many others.
What started as a poker tournament, has now fostered into a weekend full of events organized to benefit and raise money for Children’s Mercy Hospital in downtown Kansas City (2401 Gillman Rd). On June 17th, the co-hosts along with their celebrity friends visited with children cancer patients at Children’s Mercy and participated in the annual “Star Spangled Softball” game held at Kauffman Stadium foregoing the Royals vs Tigers home game. On June 18th, the celebrities participated in “Red, White, and Bowl” held at Pinstripes at Prairie Fire and a Victory Party/Auction at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland.
“We started this thing seven years ago, and the fact that it keeps growing just blows me away,” Riggle said, “I want to say thank you to the people of Kansas City for showing up.”
The weekend has been themed to mimic and coincide with the 2016 election. Posters and yard signs have been hung up around Kansas City for the past few months to help get the word out about the function. The “political” campaign’s slogan is “Comedy we can Believe in.” Individual slogans included “In Rudd We Trust,” “Yankee Doodle Koechner,” “With Liberty and Riggle for All,” “We Pledge Allegiance to Sudeikis,” and “E Pluribus Stonestreet.” To vote for you favorite host visit https://www.crowdrise.com/bigslick.
Prior to this year, Big Slick has donated more than $3.25 million to Children’s Mercy. This money has allowed the hospital to expand its cancer research center, expand its Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, add entertainment systems to every oncology hospital room, and purchase over $500K in advanced early detection equipment.
The hospital’s research aims to diagnose patients more quickly, to treat more precisely, to cure, and to prevent childhood diseases. According to Pediatrician-in-Chief Dr. Michael Artman, the hospital diagnoses nearly 180 patients every year. Meaning that about every other day they are having to tell a family that their child has cancer.
“We have gotten really good at giving bad news… we are also very good at giving good news and giving hope and giving a path forward… and the reason we can do that more and better today is because of our research program,” Dr. Artman said.
The celebrity co-hosts emphasized their devotion to the weekend with stories regarding personal experiences with the kids and families. Although their impact might not be immediately understood by the patients, being able to put smiles on faces has caused the celebrities to return each year.
“I have a hard time believing that the kids are going to remember ten years from now that grown men came and colored with them,” Koechner said jokingly.
Over the past seven years, the celebrities have met kids who are no longer here and some that are still here, surviving, and doing great. According to Riggle, it’s “both the tough stuff and the victories” that have caused him to realize the importance in the event.
“I have children and I am very grateful for their health,” Riggle said, “If you have healthy children you should be grateful.”
Dr. Artman further expressed his appreciation for the Big Slick hosts during a press conference held at Children’s Mercy. He believes most people know the celebrities merely for what they do and for their personas on television, but the hospital truly knows them for who they are.
“I see them as caring, compassionate, committed individuals who want to use their gifts and their talents to give back to the community,” Dr. Artman said, “Believe me they do not need to do this… I think they’re here because they care.”
For more information regarding the event visit http://bigslickkc.org/. If you’re interested in donating to the charity visit http://www.charliehustleshop.com/search?type=product&q=big+slick&x=0&y=0. All proceeds from the purchase of a Charlie Hustle gray t-shirt will go towards the charity.