The Kansas City Chiefs have annually called on fans to celebrate the return of another football season by supporting local charities in need for nearly three decades, and prior to perhaps the most anticipated season in franchise history, Chiefs Kingdom delivered more than ever before.
Fans raised $1 million for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City last week as part of Red Friday – Kickoff Edition, which took the traditional Red Friday festivities and spread them out over the course of seven days leading up to the season-opener on Thursday night.
That celebration culminated on Sept. 9, when Red Friday – Kickoff Edition flags went on sale at area McDonald's locations, Hy-Vee stores and online. Several distributors sold out in a matter of hours as fans continued one of the greatest traditions in all of sports.
"We take it as a responsibility to be active participants in our community, and what a great way to match two platforms that can really do good," said Chiefs President Mark Donovan. "It's the power of matching [the Chiefs and Ronald McDonald House Charities] together and using this platform for good in this community."
Since its inception 29 years ago, Chiefs Kingdom has raised more than $3.3 million for local charities through Red Friday. A significant portion of those funds – more than $2.8 million – have been raised in the last eight years alone as part of the organization's partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides support to families whose children are in the hospital.
The key to that partnership has been the creation of a commemorative flag to kick off each season over the last eight years. The flags bear a different design every year and are sold at McDonald's locations throughout the metro for just $5, with all net proceeds going directly to the folks at Ronald McDonald House Charities.
This season's flag features a championship theme as the Chiefs defend their Super Bowl title in 2020, and unsurprisingly, they were a hit. The Chiefs sold a record number of flags this year as fans acted on their passion while supporting those in need.
That includes 25,000 flags that were distributed as part of a pre-sale in May that sold out in four hours. Then, on Sept. 9, half of all area McDonald's locations were sold out by noon. Lastly, online sales were up 191 percent over last year's previous record-setting Red Friday celebration.
The excitement surrounding the Chiefs is at an all-time high, and from newly painted murals to statues donning jerseys on the Plaza, that energy is apparent all over town. It's the ability on the part of the Chiefs and Ronald McDonald House Charities to take that passion and channel it toward a worthy cause, however, that makes Red Friday – and this year in particular – all the more meaningful.
"This gives us a lot of pride as an organization to be able to give back and do it in this way," Donovan said. "The reason we're able to raise this much money is because of our fans' passion for this sport, this team and this franchise. That gives us the platform to do good."
There are still a limited number of flags available online, too. To claim your Red Friday – Kickoff Edition flag, visit shop.chiefs.com.