Two weeks ago a big deal came to the Kansas City Metropolitan area. Hometown heroes came back to the Midwest and came out to play—poker, that is! Actor/comedian greats Paul Rudd, Rob Riggle and Jason Sudeikis took the heartland by storm during the 4th Annual Big Slick KC Poker Championship Weekend.
Once a year during a scorching hot weekend in the summer, these three hilarious fellas bring some of Hollywood’s most amazing talent to Kansas City to raise money for Children’s Mercy Hospital. This year, they far surpassed their fundraising goal and raised over $700,000. That’s just in one year! The roster of celebrities that came out to play this year was extensive. And we’ve got all the names for ya! Johnny Knoxville, Olivia Wilde (duh!), Angela Kinsey, Sarah Chalke, Damon Wayans, Jr., Samm Levine, Kevin Pollak, James Marsden (swoon!), Rich Eisen, J.K. Simmons, Jon Glaser, and Wilmer Valderrama joined the guys for the duration of the weekend.
On Friday—after their visit to see the kids at Children’s Mercy—the whole group played in their annual Celebrity Wiffle Ball Tournament at The Little K at Kauffman Stadium, just before the Royals took on the Detroit Tigers. Despite the 97 degree weather (and about 120 degree heat index!), they brought their A Game (along with the Colquitt brothers of Broncos and Chiefs fame) and entertained like crazy! What a lot of the crowd found as ironic (And of course, I did too while I soaked my sister’s fiance’s Royals shirt through with my own sweat and my boyfriend had to keep wiping my forehead off… Attractive.) was that the three main men in this mix are outspoken Jayhawks fans. But the marketing department at Kauffman pulled a switch-a-roo on them and dubbed Friday night Mizzou Tigers Night at The K. So—amongst a sea of black and gold—Paul Rudd pulled out his finest KU basketball shorts, blue athletic socks, and blue royals gear. And he suffered through the additional heat with his facial hair and wild mane (to rival Brian Fantana) just to prove his love for his team. (He also brought KU to play in Clueless. He’s a die hard.) The game was fierce, and water balloons were pelted (J.K. Simmons NAILED Johnny Knoxville in the face!).
Saturday morning, the heat was on as celebrities contended against other participants in the poker tournament at Harrah’s Casino. Out of 194 players, the two celebrities that were left near the end were Kevin Pollak and Samm Levine. But even the greats were beat by a man named Shawn Polowniak (Who was later dubbed at the live auction a “Tall Bradley Cooper”).
The Live Auction was intense. I have been lucky to attend it once before (two years ago) and I will admit the newer location at The Midland is extraordinary. I was invited by my good friend to attend, and we got to sit at a table up close (spoiled, I know!). Additional celebrities to join our roster on stage included Scot Pollard (who lifted Angela Kinsey AND Jon Glaser), the Colquitt boys (who were part of a bidding item), and none other than SNL’s Will Forte! This year, they added a game portion to the night that included a (really long) trivia round between two donors (and teams of celebrities) and a relay race. It was out of control.
Auction items included a premier party for Olivia Wilde’s upcoming movie Drinking Buddies (That winner also gets their voicemail greeting recorded by Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis.), a set visit on Horrible Bosses 2 (two were auctioned off!), a trip to a KU basketball game with Rob Riggle, a behind-the-scenes visit to The Daily Show and a Vegas package where you can stay in the suite from The Hangover and golf with Rob Riggle. If you donated $5,000, you automatically got a signed jersey by the entire roster of celebrities and if you donated $2,5000, you received a bat signed by everyone. The auction item that took the cake, however, was the premier party for Anchorman 2, which went for a whopping $36,000. Not to mention, James Marsden put himself and Paul Rudd up for Skyping everyone that winner knows on the night of the party. Kind of a big deal, if I do say so myself.
The night was magical, a lot of money was raised for a good cause, and the Midwest got their fair share of celebrities (For one weekend, that is!). Can’t say I hated it.