If you’re a fan of “Star Wars” I don’t need to tell you that this May fans all over the world will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the original film’s release. In Kansas City, fans will be attempting to set a Guinness World Record for the largest light saber battle while raising money for a great cause, the battle against cystic fibrosis.
On May 6th, fans can join with Friends of the River for the epic Battle4KC LifeSaver “Star Wars” Battle to benefit Children’s Mercy Hospital’s Cystic Fibrosis Center. The event will begin at 5:00 p.m. at Berkley Riverfront Park 1298 E. Riverfront Drive in Kansas City. Recently we spoke with Friends of the River President Stefan White about the upcoming event and the goals set.
Mike Smith: Tell me a little about the event.
Stefan White: Battle4KC is an attempt to set the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the largest l ightsaber battle. The event will benefit Children’s Mercy Hospital and their Cystic Fibrosis wing. May is additionally cystic fibrosis awareness month.
MS: How did you come up with this idea?
SW: Years ago Friends of the River Kansas City started “Movies on the Riverfront” where once a month we held an outdoor movie night in the park on a giant 36′ screen. Over the past half-decade we see more and more and more organizations offering that, and so I decided that the time had come to create a new “thing” and another idea that would be ours. Each board member was tasked with brainstorming an idea to replace Movie Night. It could be a weekly thing, monthly, annually, whatever they wanted to pitch – they could walk in the door and pitch the idea.
There were amazing ideas floated, we actually have the next four years planned out because of that one meeting. However, Steven Fuller, one of our board members, came in and told us about the work that Children’s Mercy is doing, and that the Cystic Fibrosis wing does not currently have any fundraising outside of the hospital’s general fund. For instance, Big Slick goes towards Cancer specifically. (NOTE: Big Slick is an annual Poker-themed event put on annually by local celebs Paul Rudd, Rob Riggle, Jason Sudeikis and David Koechner)
He then pitched the idea of tracking down enough Storm Troopers and leaning on community businesses, partners, and resources to take over KC. Specifically, on May the 4th we plan on taking over the hospital, and fully expect all of those kiddos to beat up each and every one of those Storm Troopers. Across the 4th, 5th, and the morning of the 6th there will be additional corporate and landmark takeovers across our city from partners. All this being an opportunity for us to speak about the work Children’s Mercy is doing as well as the cystic fibrosis community which resides here in KC.
I figured there was no way this idea passes the board. No way. At all. Never going to happen. And it did – unanimously. Our next step was taking it to Port KC, whom we are an arm of working within their property at Berkley Park, and again I thought there is no way and no how this passes and we are granted permission. They came back with a resounding YES – and a request of how they could help. They actually were our very first sponsor organization to get the ball rolling.
So here we are, 10 months later preparing for the Guinness World Record team to arrive in our city, filling the park with 10,000 of your closest friends and engaging in an incredible day of activities for kids of all ages, featuring an outstanding concert from the Phantistics, a local KC band, and setting a new world record.
MS: Is there an age limit or can anyone interested participate?
SW: Not at all! Come young and come old. You do not need to be a “Star Wars” fan to play a role and be a part of this awesome evening either. Each ticket comes with a lightsaber built just for this event. Also, I want to make it clear that this is a family friendly event, families of all shapes and sizes, and also needs. We have partnered with the “Child Life” team from Children’s Mercy, who are a Godsend, and they are working hand in hand with us to make certain that no matter the child, the adult, and whatever needs there may be – you absolutely can participate. Nobody is excluded in the setting of this World Record. All we ask is that they shoot us a private message – don’t post publicly on our social pages because of HIPPA laws – and we will get you all setup, squared away, and ready for the event.
MS: Is there a current Guinness record for greatest light saber battle?
SW: There are many who have claimed to have set the record. If you hop onto the interwebs, so, so many have claimed it before. However, in speaking with our Guinness representatives, and our judges who are coming to KC – nobody has ever taken the proper and appropriate steps to do so. Therefore, if only one of you shows up…because we have the correct paperwork on file, we get the record. That being said, I have 10,041 lightsabers currently in my garage and would like to use each and every one of them in this attempt and the setting of the record.
MS: Can fans bring their own light sabers?
SW: You can bring your own. We do realize there are collectors and hardcore fans out there. HOWEVER, during the official battle, everyone must use the same light saber for the participants to count. It is a strange rule, I know, but it is the official rule of Guinness and we want to respect their wishes.
MS: Why is this such an important event?
SW: Sadly, a cystic fibrosis patient’s outcome 100% of the time is death…this is why we are fighting. This is why we are staging the event. Children’s Mercy Hospital is the #1 ranked hospital in the world for cystic fibrosis research – that is something to be darn proud of, and as Kansas Citians we need to stand behind them. The cure for cystic fibrosis is going to come from right here in our own backyard, from one of your neighbors. We would rather have the story light, while still taking a nod to the fact that we are fighting with a purpose.
For 14 years, Friends of the River has thrown amazing parties for the city, and on behalf of the city such as Riverfest. We raise funds and support other charities and organizations. Educational activities, park building, river cleanups, tree planting. This is the first time ever we have put the full weight of our machine, organization, and community ties into a cause such as this.
That is the vibe and story line I would prefer. As Kansas Citians we have the opportunity to find a cure for an entire people. Nothing is more important than that.
Social Media Handles: @Battle4KC