Paul Rudd sat at a table full of children, an Ant-Man coloring book page in front of him. “Silly faces!” the Marvel movie star proclaimed to a young girl in a wheelchair as he took a selfie with her.
Nearby, a little boy leaning on a walker gasped as “Modern Family” star Eric Stonestreet held up two playing cards, finishing a magic trick.
Stonestreet then said hi to a patient coloring a picture of his shaggy dog character from “The Secret Life of Pets” — a favorite of the girl’s family, her mom told him. Next to her sat pop star Selena Gomez, who signed an autograph.
The 10th annual Big Slick Celebrity Weekend kicked off Friday morning with a press conference at Children’s Mercy followed by the favorite part of the event for the five hometown hosts and some celebrity guests: hanging out with the kids and families who benefit from the fundraiser for the hospital’s Cancer Center.
“I’m getting SMOKED!” co-host Rob Riggle said in faux disbelief as he lost, yet again, in Connect Four to a young patient.
David Koechner, tugged lightly on a royal blue Big Slick teddy bear held by a toddler in a stroller. The boy giggled.
Jason Sudeikis had tried on a fake mustache while the boy laughed uproariously, but then suddenly looked away, completely uninterested in an instant. “Oh. OK,” Sudeikis said with a laugh.
Before playtime, the hosts did a bit of work, fielding questions from the media about Big Slick and Children’s Mercy.
While the two-day event is a good time, Rudd said, “it’s also a reminder that there’s so much work to do.”
“What we do doesn’t always feel that important,” Stonestreet said of being an entertainer. “This gives it meaning.”
Meeting the young patients, “It changes your life,” Riggle said, adding that having kids of his own makes it especially meaningful. “You can’t unring that bell.”
The biggest takeaways, according to the hosts: resilience, optimism, strength, humility, grace and, Sudeikis added, “clever tactics at Connect Four.”
Of the 38 guests scheduled to join them this weekend, one shines so bright he actually makes the celebrities a little starstruck: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
When the hosts, all huge Chiefs fans, meet him, “We turn into 10-year-olds,” Rudd said.
Three big events are open to the public:
▪ The celebrity softball game at 5 p.m. Friday at Kauffman Stadium. Anyone with a ticket to the Royals vs. White Sox game at 7:15 p.m. that night can come early to watch the celebrities cavort on the field. If you purchase through the Big Slick site or on royals.com/bigslick, $5 goes to the charity. You can also watch the game on the Royals’ Facebook page.
▪ A free outdoor block party from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Prairiefire shopping center in Overland Park. The highlight: a celebrity red carpet arrival around 9:45 a.m. outside Pinstripes. The celebrity bowling tournament inside is sold out.
▪ The charity auction, which used to always sell out at a smaller venue, is now called the Party & Show and has been moved to the Sprint Center to accommodate thousands more fans. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8. Tickets are $79.
Details and tickets to all events are at bigslickkc.org.
Big Slick has raised more than $8 million since 2010. For this 10th edition of Big Slick, the hosts hope to bring that total to $10 million.