KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A preschool teacher who’s on the verge of retiring recently learned he's going to the Chiefs' big game.
For nearly 42 years, Rudy Liggins has selflessly poured his time and energy into his work at the Children’s Place in Brookside.
“A lot of people say the kids are so lucky, but I’ve been lucky,” he said. “I’ve learned to be a better father, learned to be a better man because these kids. All they want is honesty, love, respect and consistency, and it has made me a better teacher.”
Liggins' dedication to helping kids who have experienced “life’s deepest hurts” hasn’t gone unnoticed, even by the National Football League. On Sunday, Liggins was invited to the AFC Championship game.
“I thought like 8-10 people had been selected to go to the Chiefs game based on the work they have done in the community over the years,” he said.
Little did Liggins know, Chiefs co-owner Clark Hunt and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell brought him to the game to surprise him with two tickets to Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
“I think I said, 'You’ve got to be kidding,' like four times because I still didn’t believe it,” Liggins recalled.
Rudy Liggins spent 40 years as a pre-school teacher at The Children’s Place in Kansas City, which serves young survivors of abuse and neglect.
— NFL (@NFL) January 19, 2020
Those who know Liggins will tell you the 65-year-old Kansas City native is a humble man.
“He’s amazing,” said Ann Thomas, the president and CEO of the Children’s Place. “He embodies the idea that every child needs a chance."
Thomas said their nonprofit has worked with the Chiefs the last couple of years, and that’s how those in the organization learned of Liggins' story.
“[Rudy] is a man who cares, who connects with every human being. He touches something in you,” Thomas said. “He laughs and so, his gift has been able to find a way to reach those that push away. He reaches in and brings them out. His impact on creating attachments and relationships is profound.”
Liggins, who will retire from the Children’s Place in June, said being recognized by those outside of the community only makes him want to give more. He added that he doesn’t take it lightly.
“I feel very blessed and grateful that I get to go,” he said.
Liggins plans to take his son with him the game. Details of the trip are still being worked out, but it sounds like the only thing they’ll have to pay for is food.