LIBERTY — Throughout the nation, people investigated what it would cost to fly to Miami, rent a hotel room and purchase tickets for the hottest game in the world, the Super Bowl, but for Laci and Ryan McClelland of Liberty, that investigation turned into an investment in the community.
“We were thinking about going to the game, but the prices for four people were crazy high,” Ryan said. “Laci and I talked about spending some of that money to reach some folks who don’t normally enjoy the game.”
Laci said the couple buckled down and started reaching out to churches and area ministries to see what could be done. They found a partner in Morning Glory Ministries in downtown Kansas City and Director John Kraus.
Prior to kickoff Sunday, Feb. 2, volunteers were buzzing around the ministry common room, putting up decorations, making coffee and lemonade and setting out Jack Stack barbecue to provide a space to watch the game and feed those in need including the city’s homeless.
Ryan praised his wife, who is a wedding planner, for pulling off the dinner.
The dining area also has a projector and was set up for the game.
“We knew we could get the food, but I kept wondering about finding people to volunteer,” she said. “We ended up with more than 40 helpers. It’s been incredible. To see the outpouring has been awesome.”
Two volunteers included Liberty City Council member Rae Moore and Ryan’s father and co-worker, Kelly McClelland, a local attorney.
Their children, Pierce and Milli, helped share details of the meal as the family walked around downtown the week before the Super Bowl.
Laci said when people couldn’t volunteer at the dinner, donors dropped off bottled water and granola bars.
Kraus said when the McClellands called with the pitch, it was easy to say yes.
“The Super Bowl party is really an extension of what we do every day,” he said. “We aim to reach people who find this place a warm, inviting culture. They love being here.”
Between Kraus asking if people wanted a place to watch the Super Bowl and the McClellands and their children, Pierce, 8, and Milli, 6, walking around the area and handing flyers out, the response grew.Along with a hearty meal of two meats, three sides, bread, pickles and cake, the local Pizza Hut donated 72 pizzas, wings and breadsticks. Laci called that the backup plan. They also got donations for raffles including Chiefs blankets.
“Chiefs Kingdom is made up of people from all walks of life,” Ryan said. “Our goal was to give everyone in the community, no matter their circumstance, a safe and friendly atmosphere to watch the big game. I’d say our mission was accomplished. To get a Chiefs victory was just icing on the cake!”
Laci said the couple is already looking toward next year. She said nothing went wrong at the party.
“We served almost 150,” she said. “There was dancing, cheering, laughter, … it was incredible and amazing. The barber showed up and offered 35 haircuts and beard trims.”
The last man that left said he was a blessed man, Laci said.
“We also hope to inspire others to do their part in the community,” she said. “You don’t have to be involved with helping the homeless, but find that passion that makes a difference. Do something that is on your heart and make a positive impact.”