It’s for the kids.
The Big Slick kicked off its 10th year this morning at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, with nearly 20 celebrities visiting and playing with patients.
The event is hosted by five Kansas City-area natives: Rob Riggle and Paul Rudd — who both attended the University of Kansas — Eric Stonestreet, Jason Sudeikis and David Koechner. Before introducing the hosts to media and guests, Department of Pediatrics Chair Michael Artman made sure to give a proper introduction.
“The weekend doesn’t officially begin until you hear these six words,” Artman said. “The boys are back in town.”
The event began in 2010 when Riggle enlisted his fellow Shawnee Mission School District graduates Rudd and Sudeikis to help raise money for Children’s Mercy. It started off as a poker tournament and has flourished into a weekend of celebrity-filled events, including the celebrity softball game at Kauffman Stadium starting at 5 p.m. Friday night.
According to the Big Slick website, the first year raised over $120,000. Now, the charity plans to hit a different milestone.
"If all goes well, we’ll hopefully go over $10 million in 10 years," Riggle said.
Everyone involved with the charity event takes away something from the experience and the children. For Riggle, one word stuck out most in his head.
"For me, [I’ve learned] gratitude," Riggle said. "Gratitude for the opportunity, gratitude for my own children’s health, gratitude that there is an opportunity for these doctors and nurses to heal these kids, and gratitude for a chance to give back."
The children at the hospital are the ones benefiting from the money, the attention and the love Big Slick offers to them. Stonestreet brought a magician to the hospital Thursday night for the kids but had to stall for time. When stalling, he asked the kids if they had any questions, and one child’s response reached him.
“He goes, ‘I love everyone, and I love everything, and I love games,’” Stonestreet said.
Stonestreet said kids like that will make the world a better place when they grow up.
The moment the children were brought in after the press conference, both celebrities and patients alike immediately had smiles on their faces.
Stonestreet joked about knowing people on “Modern Family,” Rudd colored pictures of Ant Man, Riggle played a game of giant Connect Four and Sudeikis lost at a few different games. The morning was full of laughter, happiness and smiles.
Along with the softball game tonight, there is a block party and celebrity bowling tournament from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The weekend ends Saturday night at 8 p.m. with the Big Slick Party & Show at the Sprint Center.