Started in 2010 by actors Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis, the annual Big Slick Celebrity Weekend in Kansas City raises money for the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center. Over the years the event has attracted A list stars and raised millions of dollars for the hospital. Our staff photographer Stephen Lovekin covered the event this year, capturing all the heartwarming and hilarious moments. He joined us to share his favorite photographs and moments from the weekend.
How many years have you photographed the Big Slick? What makes it special for you?
This was my second year shooting the event. The woman who runs it is an old friend and client and she convinced me to come out for it. I hope to be a part of it as long as I can. It really is an amazing event.
It’s special on so many levels. First of all, it’s for the kids at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Second, it’s an extremely intimate event, so there aren’t a lot of talent handlers, publicists, and the like. That intimacy allows you to get really comfortable with the celebrities so you are able to develop a trust and even friendships sometimes that usually don’t go along with shooting big events. Plus, all the folks associated are just the warmest, kindest, and coolest people you’d ever want to meet. I would also add that it gives me a chance to visit Kansas City, MO, which is a wonderful city.
What were the most memorable moments from this year’s event?
Wow! Tough question. There were so many. The first that comes to mind was on the first day at the hospital when Paul Rudd went over to this young girl and she got really excited and gave him a huge hug and a kiss. Another was when singer/musician Madisen Ward walked into this girls’ hospital room and the girl started crying because she just so happened to be his biggest fan. He then began to cry, but composed himself and then started to sing. That’s when everyone in the room started to cry – including yours truly. A pretty powerful moment. Another one was when CMH patient, Lucas Novick, played a version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ at the Gala. Not a dry eye in the house.
But there are also many lighthearted and funny moments. For instance, the night of the big gala/auction Seth Herzog did a rendition of ‘Flashdance’ that brought down the house. Last year he dressed up as Wonder Woman, so I guess he realized he had to up the ante this year. Really hilarious.
Really though, just being around all these funny talented people is something to behold. Even when we are between events, say riding in the bus or whatever, they are always on. Telling jokes and riffing on one another. So quick, so witty, and clever. It’s amazing to be around.
And then there are the after parties which involved karaoke and limbo. But I’ll just leave that there.
A couple of the photos blew up a little on Twitter. Can you tell us about these moments?
The first image of Will Forte and Jake Tapper was at the celebrity softball game at Kauffman Stadium where the Royals play. It’s a fun time and everyone is in a great mood. This shot took place right as the game finished. I wanted to get a member of the ‘blue team’ with a member of the ‘white team’ to show that there were no hard feelings once the game finished and they just happened to be standing near each other.
— Shutterstock Now (@ShutterstockNow) June 24, 2017
The second happened at CMH on the first day which I briefly mentioned above. Paul Rudd went over to this little girl and she got super excited. Apparently, she’s a huge fan. Anyway, he was great with her and went he put his arm around her, well, that’s when the magic happened. One of my favorite moments from the weekend. Also, I might add, we visited the girls’ room the following day and she had removed something like 90% of her Justin Bieber pictures from the wall and replaced them with ones of Paul. Thought that was pretty cute.