In ads online and around town, we’ll be seeing this year’s theme, “Love, Kansas City,” which incorporates icons such as KC sports teams, barbecue, breweries and the downtown skyline along with the fundraiser’s hometown celebrity hosts: Rob Riggle, Jason Sudeikis, Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet and David Koechner.
“This is our way of saying thank you back to Kansas City,” said Joan Charbonneau of Overland Park, a Big Slick board member and Koechner’s sister. “This isn’t just about the five guys and their friends who come back but about Kansas City and how great this town is, how unbelievable and generous the people are.”
While the main focus June 23-24 will be raising money for Children’s Mercy Hospital, organizers are expanding one of the free events: a block party and celebrity red carpet arrival outside the Saturday morning bowling tournament in Overland Park’s Prairiefire.
“We’ll have face painting, balloons, merchandise to sell,” Charbonneau said. “We’re really going to blow it out. It’s very much a family day.”
The weekend will once again feature three big events: a celebrity softball game at Kauffman Stadium June 23, the bowling tournament at Pinstripes June 24 and a party and auction at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland that night.
“Kansas City loves these boys, and these guys love this town. There’s something magical about that combination,” said Charbonneau. (She and her five siblings grew up in Tipton, Mo., but four of them live in the KC area now. And Koechner’s wife, Leigh, grew up in Overland Park, so he’s an honorary Kansas Citian.)
“We are a generous, giving city and we like to have fun. We rally about whatever is going on: firefighters getting injured … we rally around heartbreak and these beautiful things, like the Royals going to the World Series and the Chiefs making the playoffs. You get that in other towns but not like you get in Kansas City. The guys know that.”
The marketing campaign was designed by Blacktop Creative, which came up with last year’s Big Slick yard sign and celebrity voting campaign.
Around 25 celebrity guests will be announced closer to the event. Previous names have included actress Olivia Wilde (Sudeikis’ fiancee) and actors James Marsden, James Van der Beek, Kevin Pollak and Jon Hamm.
In an interview with The Star last week about his new ABC reality show, “The Toy Box,” Stonestreet explained how he persuades fellow celebrities to participate: “I always tell my friends that I invite that it will be one of the highlights of your year coming home and just meeting the nice people of Kansas City and going to the hospital and meeting those kids and the staff. I always tell them it’ll be something you’ll always carry with you and something you’ll be super proud of doing. I certainly am.”
Since it began in 2010, Big Slick has donated $4.5 million to Children’s Mercy. The money has gone to such things as expanding the bone marrow transplant unit and family/play rooms, adding entertainment systems to every oncology hospital room and buying advanced early detection equipment.
Tickets for this year’s Big Slick Celebrity Weekend fundraiser for Children’s Mercy go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 4, at bigslickkc.org. The events:
▪ The celebrity softball game at 5 p.m. June 23 at Kauffman Stadium. Special tickets, at $500 and $1,500, include meet-and-greet sessions with the stars and prime seats. But anyone with a ticket to the Royals/Blue Jays baseball game that night can watch the celebs cavorting around the field. Tickets bought from royals.com/bigslick sends $5 to charity.
▪ The bowling tournament at 10:30 a.m. June 24 at Pinstripes in Overland Park’s Prairiefire. Tickets to bowl with the celebrities are $2,500. But the public is invited to a red carpet arrival at 9:45 a.m. and a free block party with food, entertainment and kids’ activities.
▪ The party and auction at 8 p.m. June 24 at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. The best seats go for $1,500 and $2,000, and balcony tickets are available for $50 and $75 apiece. Last year’s auction items included a role as an extra in a Johnny Knoxville movie, set visits to “Modern Family” and “NFL Game Day” and spots at the premieres of “Sausage Party” and HBO’s “Westworld.”