Remember that time Rob Riggle, Jason Sudeikis and Paul Rudd came together in Kansas City to play cards and hold a meet-and-greet for charity?
It was just 2010 when the Big Slick Celebrity Poker Tournament and Party at Harrah’s Casino in North Kansas City made its debut. The event was a success then and now has blossomed into the Big Slick Celebrity Weekend. It has already become a bona fide Kansas City institution, benefiting the Cancer Center at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.
On Friday, the funnymen will be joined by fellow hosts Eric Stonestreet and David Koechner to kick off the festivities with a 5 p.m. softball game at Kauffman Stadium before the Royals take on the Blue Jays. But don’t stay up too late because the action moves to Prairiefire’s Pinstripes Saturday at 8:30 a.m. for a bowling tournament and free block party. And finally a sold-out party and silent auction take place that night at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland.
The guest list has continued to swell through the years. That first Big Slick boasted actor Bobby Cannavale and comic Horatio Sanz in addition to the hosts. This year’s edition brings 26 more famous figures to town — including parody songster “Weird Al” Yankovic, hometown “American Idol” David Cook and CNN anchor Jake Tapper — to help some of the city’s littlest and neediest patients.
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Celebrity isn’t worth much in some corners these days, especially when it comes to endorsing a cause. Madonna may have scored points with the crowd by unleashing a defiant, profanity-filled diatribe at the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington. But she likely provided even more ammunition to admirers of President Donald Trump, who instead heard a temper tantrum from a whiny sore loser.
“Celebs hurt cause badly,” tweeted the president the next day. Some 46,000 retweeters apparently agreed.
But here, the marquee names are shining their spotlights on a goal we can all get behind, regardless of political outlook. Riggle, Sudeikis, Rudd and others from the Kansas City area have been generously lending their time and attention to the cause for years. They continue to prove it’s personal.
After the inaugural 2010 tournament, Big Slick organizers proudly announced that they had surpassed their fundraising goal of $50,000. That’s chump change today. Last year, they brought in more than $1.3 million, sending the total sum raised north of $4.5 million. This year’s festivities will ensure the number keeps growing.
“Our gratitude and that of our children and families is hard to put into words,” said Children’s Mercy president and CEO Randall L. O’Donnell. “But on behalf of the hundreds of children who have been impacted, we are just so thankful.”
Kansas City is, too.