Jason Sudeikis returns to his hometown of Kansas City for his 7th annual Thundergong! charity event on Saturday, and he’ll be bringing along some famous faces.
The benefit concert – in support of the Steps of Faith Foundation, which helps uninsured and underinsured amputees get the prosthetics they need – is organized by Sudeikis and will feature musical performances by his Ted Lasso co-stars Hannah Waddingham, Brendan Hunt and Sam Richardson, as well as Will Forte, Nathaniel Rateliff, Kevin Morby and Summer Breeze.
Hunt has previously participated in the show, but Waddingham is participating for the first time, Sudeikis says jokingly The Hollywood Reporter that prior to her performance she is “very shy, very nervous; she just took hours and hours of singing lessons to prepare for this kind of thing. But it’s a joy to know that she’s willing to do it and just loved for it.”
It will be Waddingham’s first time in Kansas City, and Sudeikis teases that he has a big itinerary planned to show her around the city outside of rehearsal for the show.
“We’ll obviously try to put some barbecue in there whether they want it or not, usually they do. Then we go to the hotel and they are always welcome to go to my mom and dad’s house and hang out there,” as he looks back on the games and baseball cards of his childhood, as he jokes, “it’s really a dream that comes out for people.”
Sudeikis started the Thundergong! event with his longtime friend Billy Brimblecom, who is executive director of the Steps of Faith Foundation. Brimblecom lost his leg to cancer in 2005, and around that time, Sudeikis and their friends organized a music and comedy show to raise money for his own prosthesis after his health insurance wouldn’t cover it. Years later, they decided to organize a similar event to help others.
“Raising money is difficult, especially when it’s not children and animals. People don’t like to think about losing a leg or limb. I know I certainly didn’t want to think about it, even though I knew it was possible for me,” says Brimblecom. During the event, “Jason just helped open so many doors for these people who say, ‘Oh, I want to be in the room with this guy’ and then they learn what Steps of Faith does; like Jason says, we just gotta get them there and then they’ll know. The organization works with doctors and buys the parts to make prosthetic limbs at a discounted price, from the usual $5,000 to $500.
“As this goes on, yes, it does bring in more money, but what it also does is it raises more awareness about some of the shenanigans that go on in insurance companies and perhaps allows for some sort of change in the law – if not from within, then certainly through Congress, to change those things that make Billy’s job and our role less necessary, which would be the case if the insurance companies actually helped people,” Sudeikis added. “I feel like this is another beautifully optimistic byproduct of continuing to do this… it just shines a light on this larger kind of systemic problem that exists in the world of healthcare.”
The event raised more than $500,000 in 2022 after raising more than $2 million over the past six years. This year there will also be a raffle including a signed AFC Richmond package, a signed ‘Believe’ sign, signed Jimmy Fallon children’s books and a karaoke party with Forte. Of Ted Lasso As a key part of the evening, the event takes place shortly after the end of the SAG-AFTRA strike, allowing the stars to once again discuss the hit show.
As for his reaction to finally reaching a deal, Sudeikis says he is “cautiously optimistic.”
‘We will see in the coming days how it all works out, with the elections and all that, and certainly in the next three years. I really don’t think it had to take this long and I don’t think it should have. I’m proud to be part of the two different groups, the Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild, because they stick to their guns and look for people at all different levels of showbiz, hopefully well into the future,” he continues. “I’m glad it’s over because it’s important to everyone, a big old group of chosen human families working to bring those things together, and I’m glad that all those different parties – hair, makeup, transpo , grips, electricians, all those people – everyone going back to work is important and it’s about time.”