Kansas City is the “secret sauce” in the recipes for Thundergong! and Big Slick, said Jason Sudeikis, who helps host the two high-profile events.
The Overland Park native and “Ted Lasso” star was in Kansas City Friday to promote the annual Thundergong! fundraiser for Steps of Faith Foundation — returning Saturday at the Uptown Theater.
Sudeikis, who hinted at a Thungergong reference in the upcoming season of “Ted Lasso,” said it’s not difficult to get special guests on board for these local events.
“That’s one of the perks and the secret sauces of both Thundergong! and Big Slick,” he explained. “It’s right smack dab in the middle of the country. It’s a great city. People know it as much now for its culture as they do the sports teams. That’s lovely.”
Special guests slated for this weekend’s Thundergong! — the first live version of the show since 2019 — include actors Will Forte, Fred Armisen, Brendan Hunt, and Sam Richardson, along with musicians Wynonna, Cactus Moser, Justin and Dan Hawkins of The Darkness, Hembree, Summer Breeze, and Jason Barnes.
The fundraiser — a night of musical performances that started in 2017 — benefits Steps of Faith and its mission to help uninsured and underinsured amputees get the prosthetic limbs they need — restoring mobility and restoring possibilities.
Billy Brimblecom, executive director of the foundation and an amputee himself, has been a friend of Sudeikis since they were teens.
Click here to read about Sudeikis and Brimblecom’s start in KC with ComedySportz.
“They’re not vanity projects,” Sudeikis explained about why he prioritizes coming home for Thundergong! and Big Slick, a summertime baseball event. “It’s really nice to get to come out here and live my rockstar fantasies in the best karaoke situation I’ve ever had in my life with Billy, the house band Summer Breeze, as well as all our guests. So that’s the reason we get to it.”
Events like Thundergong! have impact, he emphasized.
“I like when Billy gets all fired up and talks about power and greed and bureaucracy,” Sudeikis said. “Because you can live your life that way and you can make the dough that way and never pay attention to these folks that are being affected by your choices. It’s tough to hear people crying for the 16th hole of your country club. … But at the end of the day, it’s important to take time, as I said, to help these folks while we have the opportunity. It just matters to me and that’s the example I want to set for my kids.”
Click here to read about how Sudeikis boosted a Kansas City entrepreneur and friend’s apparel line with a well-worn on-screen wardrobe choice.
In 2021, Thundergong! raised nearly $400,000 for the foundation, bringing the six-year total to $1.3 million, which has provided prosthetics for 845 people.
“Five hundred people lose a limb every day – which seems like I’m making it up, but I’m not – just in the United States,” Brimblecom said. “That’s why we’re here. We’re having a lot of fun to raise a lot of money to get people walking again, using all four limbs, and gaining their mobility to get their lives back.”
The least expensive prosthetic limb, he noted, is $5,000.
“It’s ridiculous,” Brimblecom added. “My job shouldn’t need to exist to run a charity to get someone a prosthetic limb after they’ve lost one because bureaucracy and money and a bunch of other junk’s in the way. But it is, so I’m thankful to be here to pick up the pieces.”
Sudeikis joked that they plan to continue the fundraiser until there is an amusement park and action figures.
“Thundergong! does kind of sound like a roller coaster,” Brimblecom added. “A very safe but thrilling ride that doesn’t hurt your neck.”
People wanting to donate to Steps of Faith can text “STEPS” to 44321.