The Big Slick weekend celebrates its 14th year with press conference kick off at Children’s Mercy

Screenshot 2023 06 02 At 20926 Pm

Yeah, Rudd’s up to stuff. // Photo by Emma Hilboldt

One of the most anticipated weekends in Kansas City is finally here and the Big Slick hosts kicked it off with a press conference in the newly dubbed Big Slick auditorium at Children’s Mercy.

With 13 successful years under its belt and $17 million raised for Children’s Mercy, the 14th year of Big Slick has all the markings of being a great one.

Despite the last-minute absence of David Koechner, the five remaining hosts of the weekend spoke in front of the media Friday morning. Paul Rudd, Rob Riggle, Jason Sudeikis, Eric Stonestreet, and newcomer Hiedi Gardner all sported the Charlie Hustle T-shirt created for this weekend and spoke about what it meant to be back in their hometown for such a great cause. 

Other than the celebrity softball game that is happening on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium, the main event of the weekend is happening Saturday night at T-Mobile Center. The five hosts, along with their celebrity guests, have put together an incredible show that has nearly sold all 5500 of its tickets. 

Paul Kempinski, the president and CEO of Children’s Mercy here in KC, spoke first at the press conference and addressed the hosts. In doing so, he pointed out that they had renamed the auditorium they were sitting in in honor of the event. “You are now sitting in the newly and permanently named Big Slick auditorium. Which is named in recognition of the 17 million dollars you have raised and that is helping to fight pediatric cancer not only at Children’s Mercy but across the country,” says Kempinski. 

Last year, Children’s Mercy served 230,000 children from every county in Kansas and Missouri, in 50 states, and 16 countries. With the impact that the Big Slick is helping to create, Children’s Mercy can help children and their families from anywhere in the world. Only 4% of federal funding for cancer research and care goes to pediatric cancer, making it grossly underfunded. 

Riggle referred to Children’s Mercy as a “Kansas City treasure, if not a national treasure.”

What started as a poker tournament that Riggle organized with Rudd and Sudeikis with the goal of raising just $50,000 has now skyrocketed into a weekend full of fundraising and celebrating Kansas City that the hosts and the guests they bring with them have grown to love. 

New to the host lineup but an alumn as a guest, Hiedi Gardner spoke on how much Big Slick means to her as a native Kansas Citian. “This was the easiest sell in the world. One of my friends Rashida who came to participate this weekend, said yesterday that KC just feels like a hug.” 

For Riggle, it’s the pride of watching people from KC be recognized for their talent and the hope that young artists will feel the same way he did. “I’ve lived all over the country and wherever I was I wanted to see what was happening in Kansas City. I remember seeing Paul Rudd in a spot early on in his career and being like ‘I know him! I know that guy!’ and as I watched his career grow I felt this sense of pride and it made me think that if Paul was doing it, maybe I can do it too.”

For Stonestreet, it’s the earnestness of conversation that he finds so endearing about Kansas City, even if he has to check his patience. “I’m so used to in New York or Los Angeles where there’s just not as much attention to detail as when I walk into an Ace Hardware here where they’re like ‘Oh what are you building?’ and I’m like, ‘Well it’s really none of your business, but…’ It’s just nice people you can’t get mad at for being genuinely interested in what you’re doing.” 

For Rudd, he found a bigger love for the city in its absence. “You learn to appreciate where you came from once you leave it,” Rudd says. “I’ve lived in New York for 30 years now but I’m still a diehard Chiefs fan, a diehard Royal fan, and even my kids are that way and they’ve never lived here.” 

And for Sudeikis, it’s the fact that our stoplights are timed and work better than the other places he’s lived. You know what? Sure. Let’s take that win.

The Big Slick weekend is just getting started. The show tomorrow is close to selling out so get your tickets while you can. Throughout the weekend, you can bid on items in the online auction and you can purchase a t-shirt exclusively designed for the event. All proceeds go to Children’s Mercy in the ongoing fight against pediatric cancer.

Categories: Culture