Behind the Slick



The Big Slick is like that loveable puppy you got your kids one Christmas: it started out small and then one day, it grew into those big paws. And Rob Riggle, an actor, comedian, officer in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, and the original Slick-ster who broached the idea of a fundraiser for Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics to fellow actor Paul Rudd one day—Riggle no doubt ringing up Rudd in New York while maneuvering the clogged LA freeways—is the parent in this scenario.

The fast-growing puppy? The Big Slick Celebrity Poker Tournament and Party, slated for June 23 at Harrah’s North Kansas City and The Midland Theatre, now in its third year of raising money for a good cause.

Riggle, a Johnson County native, is talking today from LA, two months out from the third annual Big Slick. He’s giddy about the event’s success—$113,000 was raised the inaugural year and $210,000 in 2011—but emphasizes he, Rudd (from Johnson County) and the third merry man in the Big Slick’s trinity, actor/comedian Jason Sudeikis (also from Johnson County) had always envisioned the fundraiser as a crawl-walk-run scenario.

“We wanted to start out small and achieve our goals,” says Riggle, a father of two who became smitten with Children’s Mercy following a 2009 tour where he learned the hospital turns no child away. “We exceeded our expectations. We’re coming out of a crawl and into the walk. The incredible corporate and private sponsors, the celebs, the Kansas City community supporting this …”

Riggle drifts off for a moment, perhaps realizing that indeed, the Big Slick is striding a bit more than merely walking.

This year’s event is a two-day affair, kicking off with a Celebrity Wiffle Ball Game Friday, June 22. After The Jokers (Riggle, Rudd, Sudeikis, Kansas City, Kan., native and Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet and a whole bunch of Hollywood A-listers) take on the opposing team of sports celebrities at the Little K before the Royals take on the St. Louis Cardinals, they’ll rest up for Saturday’s poker tournament. After that—well, it’s party time at The Midland.

Gloria Rudd, an advertising executive and Paul’s mother, is a tireless promoter of the Big Slick, making radio and television talk show rounds, supporting the guys, taking care of details, working on sponsorships. “The first year Rob, Paul and Jason said celebrities would come, but we didn’t know who or how many,” she says. “Now people can’t wait to come back to KC. The guys love to show off their hometown. And everyone here is so generous.”

Kathy Sudeikis, a travel executive and Jason’s mom, is in charge of getting celebrities to KCI, shuttling them around town and getting them back to KCI following the event. “I take down name, rank and serial number,” she laughs.

Riggle’s sister and brother-in-law, Julie and Mark McKee and Dan Sudeikis round out the Big Slick’s executive committee.

Children’s Mercy’s Vice President of Resource Development and Chief Development Officer D. Bradley Leech is thrilled that monies raised by the 2012 Big Slick will benefit the hospital’s Cancer Center. “Children’s Mercy has a nationally recognized cancer program and we participate in global research networks that mean the best possible care for kids is right here in Kansas City—there is no reason to go out of town,” he says. “But in order to maintain that edge, we need the support of friends and organizations who know how important this work with children is.”

Now, about that puppy. Rob, Paul and Jason love it with all their hearts. Next year, it’ll be a full-grown dog. 

For more information on the Big Slick Celebrity Poker Tournament and Party, visit bigslickkc.org.

Big Slick Hits Home

The $323,000 raised by the Big Slick Celebrity Poker Tournament and Party in 2010 and 2011 supports Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics Healthier Ever After Campaign. The funds are allowing the hospital to accomplish things like a six-story patient tower and expand and improve the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), consistently ranked as one of the nation’s largest and busiest. The list goes on, and it’s one that makes the collective spirits of Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis soar. “The Big Slick comes from a place of sincerity,” says Riggle. “We love Kansas City, and staying connected to it. And with each fundraiser, we want to do at least as well—if not better—than the previous year.”

We’ve got your back, boys. KC is right there with you.