KANSAS CITY, Mo. — TODAY Show Weather and Feature anchor Al Roker was unable to make it to Big Slick KC this year but said this weekend is something special.
"I've been part of this now for several years — and pandemic not included — but what I love about this is that it is unlike a lot of other charities. It is strictly about these children," Roker said. "But unlike any other charity event, it is celebrating them. It was just this unbelievable party that lasts over several days."
Big Slick KC weekend is a multi-day event where celebrities from around the nation and globe come to Kansas City to help raise money for cancer research at Children's Mercy Hospital. It is hosted by several KC metro natives: Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Eric Stonestreet and David Koechner. It includes a celebrity softball game, a visit with the patients at Children's Mercy Hospital and a variety show at the T-Mobile Center.
The TODAY Show anchor has been part of the fundraiser weekend before. Last time KC saw him was in 2019 when he was the umpire for the celebrity softball game at Kauffman Stadium.
While taking the field is fun, he says his favorite part of the weekend is being with the patients at Children's Mercy Hospital.
He also says it's incredible how these five actors from the Kansas City area are leading the charge with the fundraiser.
"What are the odds that there would be this concentration of these great guys, who are exceedingly funny, but yet have these huge hearts, my gosh," Roker said.
Roker was unable to be in KC this weekend and was definitely missed, but plenty of fun was still had to raise money for cancer research. After the celebrity softball game and variety show, which included a live auction, the weekend hit a new record in money raised: $3,523,637.
Money that can and will change lives. KSHB 41 News reporter Jordan Betts asked Roker if he believes this event is making a difference when it comes to ending pediatric cancer.
"I absolutely do. I think what the Big Slick does, not only does it shine a light on the childhood cancers, but it raises money for research — it raises awareness," he said. "Children's Mercy is the only hospital doing this kind of work, so there's this wonderful synergy and sharing of information breakthroughs — research."
Actor and KC native Jason Sudeikis, who is a co-host of Big Slick, was unable to attend due to a production change while he films the next season of "Ted Lasso" in London. He did offer up a "Ted Lasso" package in the live auction, which included a set visit and the opportunity to be an extra in the show. After a few minutes, two bidders were going upwards of $100,000 (a Big Slick record). Sudeikis extended the offer to both bidders if they each paid $100,000 for the package. Both did!
It has not yet been announced when the event will return for Big Slick KC 2023.