KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jason Sudeikis is back in Kansas City for the fifth year of Thundergong!
The former Overland Park resident’s hit show Ted Lasso exploded online this year. Now he and his friend, Billy Brimblecom Jr., hope that recognition can mean more money to help people in need.
The comedy variety show is being filmed this weekend and will stream online November 20. All proceeds go to Steps of Faith, a nonprofit helping provide prosthetics to people who need them. Brimblecom is the organization’s executive director.
On the surface, Thundergong! is a crazy wild ride of a variety show, but underneath is the story of perseverance, hope, and two friends with an unbreakable bond.
Change can sneak up on you and nothing is the same.
“I had a pain in my left ankle for a number of years off and on and then had it looked at a couple of times. It would go away for months at a time, and I would forget about it. Eventually the pain got worse, and it happened more often,” Brimblecom said.
He is a drummer. At the time he was experiencing pain he was on tour with his band. In 2005 he found out he had cancer, and would lose part of his leg.
“Terrifying and sad. I knew that losing my leg was a possibility, but it was also like the truth will set you free. The fear of the unknown,” Brimblecom said.
He was able to get a prosthetic leg and learned how to walk again.
“I knew there was a purpose, but I wasn’t sure what it was,” Brimblecom said.
It fell into his lap with Steps of Faith. Brimblecom was given the opportunity to talk to someone who found out they would need an amputation. He says the interaction opened his eyes to the path for his life. He expressed to his doctor he wanted to help others as his job. They had a non-profit set up, and gave it to him to see what he could do with it.
“If you physically could walk or use all four of your limbs and the only thing holding you back from that isn’t your body, but it’s that you can’t get through the system in the right way or have the money to get that limb – that is injustice. That is ridiculous, and I’m here to fix it,” Brimblecom said.
He’s fixing it with the help of his long-time friend Jason Sudeikis. You may know him from “Ted Lasso,” or that guy who was on “Saturday Night Live.”
When Brimblecom first needed a prosthetic Sudeikis helped him raise money to get it. Prosthetics are not cheap. Brimblecom said a basic prosthetic can cost around $10,000 up to $100,000 depending on the person. They are usually not covered by health insurance and are out of pocket expenses for people.
“I could see it coming from a mile away that he’s a very good drummer, but he’s definitely going to be in charge of helping hundreds and hundreds of people walk again and live their lives,” Sudeikis said.
For the past five years they’ve worked together on Thundergong! which benefits Steps of Faith.
“A crazy variety show, rock and roll, comedy, magic jambalaya,” Brimblecom said.
They met at Shawnee Mission West back in the 90s. The teens did improv, played music together, and joked around — which is the essence of their annual show.
“He and I were fast friends and were kind of doing the same thing that we’ve always done together, and I’m really thankful for that. I love him like a brother,” Brimblecom said.
Back then they never imagined being band geeks and drama nerds could help hundreds of people walk each year.
“There’s still a limb missing. It’s an artificial limb we’re offering and we want to make sure the support we are offering is anything but artificial. Whatever level we need to get to do that so it stays as authentic, and as one to one and as supportive as possible,” Sudeikis said.
“It’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful feeling,” Brimblecom said.
Thundergong! will stream online for free on November 20, and Brimblecom says every dollar counts. You can make a donation to the organization through their website, or purchase merchandise through their site.