KC Business Journal: Big Slick fundraiser gives young patients 'a sense of hope'
Regena Jacobs' young daughter gave Paul Rudd "the best hug of the day." Jacobs' daughter, a 13-year-old kidney transplant patient, has been traveling to Children's Mercy for treatment from Wichita since she was three-and-a-half weeks old.
"The doctors and nurses have been phenomenal," Jacobs said. "My child wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for them."
Rudd will join hometown celebrities David Koechner, Rob Riggle, Eric Stonestreet and Jason Sudeikis for this weekend's Big Slick fundraiser. In addition to a softball game, bowling tournament and a number of activities to raise funds for Children's Mercy, the celebrities also will spend some time at the hospital, talking to the kids.
"To see the smile on her face from all of this, she will enjoy this for years to come," Jacobs said.
"It's like holiday season at Children's Mercy this time a year. There's a sense of excitement and anticipation," said Jenea Oliver, vice president of philanthropy for Children's Mercy. "Some (patients) are going through life-changing circumstances. To know these celebrities they see on TV are coming by to shower them with attention, and let them know they're thinking about them, just gives them a sense of hope."
To date, the fundraiser has raised more than $4.5 million in its seven years. Last year, it broke the $1 million mark for the third year running, up significantly from when it raised $122,000 in 2010. Oliver said tickets sold out in less than 11 minutes.
"It has changed tremendously over the years," she said. "One thing has remained constant since the beginning: The commitment these hosts and their families have to the children of our area."
Those funds have gone to a number of projects. They have helped Children's Mercy remodel its bone marrow transplant unit, add playrooms throughout the hospital, and develop a biorepository to find new and better treatments.
The funds have also gone to Children's Mercy's growing base of cancer research. Dr. Michael Artman, pediatrician-in-chief for Children's Mercy, said the hospital has 100 clinical trials going on at any given time, in addition to research in cancer biology, cancer therapies and other areas. This is important because a paucity of federal and private funding is dedicated to pediatric cancer research.
"It's hard to measure how many families and children have been directly impacted by Big Slick," Oliver said.
Not long ago, she recalled, she saw a five-year-old leukemia patient celebrating at the hospital. One of the nurses was holding up a sign that said "congratulations on your final therapy."
"It was 799 days. 799 days this young child had been undergoing treatments for leukemia," Oliver said. "There has got to be a better way. That's what Big Slick allows us to explore."
Read the article and see the photos via Kansas City Business Journal.