Red Friday has benefited Ronald McDonald House Charities in each of the last six years – totaling more than $1.7 million in donations – as the event has emerged from its humble beginnings to become a model for charitable fundraising across the National Football League.
“You think about where this started, with Red Coaters, [Chiefs Founder] Lamar [Hunt] and his family selling newspapers on the corner to try to get people excited about the Kansas City Chiefs, to the way this community has put their arms around not only this charity, but this franchise,” said Tyler Epp, Chiefs Executive Vice President of Business Operations, during the check presentation. “They’ve turned this into something that when we go to league meetings or to other markets, we talk about this…it’s [the result of] what the community does to put their arms around this.”
On hand to continue that tradition on Monday were kicker Harrison Butker and defensive tackle Khalen Saunders, each of whom stuck around to interact with the kids and families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
“It’s very special. Personally, I know what it’s like to experience this kind of lift to change your spirits. I grew up in a ‘slum’ neighborhood I guess you could say in St. Louis, and things like this would always help me feel better,” Saunders said. “For me to be that person who’s bringing joy and flipping that role, it’s a lot of fun.”
Saunders even played the piano for an audience of residents while Butker engaged in an intense game of giant Janga with one child.