Of all the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center patients Paul “Ant-Man” Rudd has met over the years, one sticks out in particular: 12-year-old Reese Davis of Olathe.
They met a year ago, when Reese was chosen to throw out the first pitch at the annual Big Slick softball game at Kauffman Stadium.
“He sent me a picture and I sent him one. His dad would decorate wheelchairs for Halloween, and he was Ant-Man. He converted his wheelchair into an ant. And the legs would move. And I mean this was like getting hired by Marvel. Truly it was really impressive. … I have his picture in my office as Ant-Man.”
On Saturday, Rudd got to see that Ant-Man mobile in person. Reese, in full Ant-Man regalia, and his father, Lon Davis, came to the Big Slick red carpet arrival before the celebrity bowling tournament at Pinstripes in Overland Park. Reese got to show off their creation and talk awhile to Rudd, who grew up in Overland Park and is one of the five Big Slick hosts.
“It made me feel pretty cool,” Reese said afterward.
The contraption, his father explained, is actually Ant-thony, the ant the superhero rides when he’s small. “It took us about 50 hours to build. It’s made out of PVC pipe and foam and all kinds of different materials.”
Reese wears a red Ant-Man suit and helmet. “The Ant-Man helmet is actually made out of floor mats pieced together and painted,” said his father.
Reese was born in 2005 with cancer. “Being in the cancer floor — 4 Henson — at Children’s Mercy was a big part of his first year of life,” Lon said.
After that year of treatment, every Christmas the family would donate a single toy to the hospital. In 2014, Reese launched a toy drive and collected 84 toys to give to Children’s Mercy. The next year it was 420 toys. And last year: 575.
“Big Slick means a lot to us and the support they give to other kids in his situation,” Lon Davis said. “Being involved with Big Slick in any way, it’s an honor for us to help out.
Jacob Gedetsis: 816-234-4416, @jacobgedetsis