Stars Gather For Reality Rally, Raise Funds for Michelle's Place

Stars of many reality TV series gathered Friday night at Wilson Creek Winery for a VIP reception p...

Stars of many reality TV series gathered Friday night at Wilson Creek Winery for a VIP reception prior to Saturday's Reality Rally Temecula.
More than 140 stars of reality TV shows past and present have gathered in Temecula this weekend for the third annual Reality Rally Temecula.

A full day of events scheduled for Saturday in Old Town Temecula will begin at 11 a.m. with greetings from city officials and introductions outside City Hall. Beginning at noon, 59 four-person teams will race throughout the Old Town area, competing in various challenges in a format similar to the TV show "The Amazing Race."

The event was created by Temecula resident Gillian Larson, a former competitor on the Reality TV hit "Survivor." Through her efforts, stars from many reality TV shows have come from across the country to take part in the event and raise funds for Michelle's Place, a Temecula-based resource center for breast cancer patients.

Of the 400 volunteers helping to staff the weekend-long event, Larson estimates about 50 are Menifee residents. Volunteers at a VIP reception Friday night at Wilson Creek Winery included Dorothy Wolons, CEO of the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce; and community activists Robbie Motter and Ivette Barnett.

Reality stars competing in Saturday's race include Richard Hatch, winner of the first season of "Survivor"; Jeffrey Marx, contestant on "The Glass House"; and Denise Stapley, winner of the most recent "Survivor" season, "Survivor Philippines."

"This is one of my personal favorites," said Hatch (left), who supports many charity fundraisers. "Gillian's heart and soul goes into this event.

"It still fascinates me that people remain so interested in reality TV, but if it helps raise money for things like Michelle's Place, I'm all for it."

Friday's events began with a tour of Michelle's Place, a facility that provides financial help, counseling and cosmetic services for breast cancer patients. Clients can receive assistance in scheduling mammograms and ultrasound treatment at local health providers. Support groups are available.

More than 700 clients are served each month. No appointment is necessary.

"To bring all these people from the outside and support the center like this is very important," said Kim Goodenough, director of Michelle's Place. "Gillian came to us about five years ago with this idea. At first, it was kind of overwhelming, but she's amazing and she makes it work."

According to Larson, Reality Rally Temecula raised about $10,000 its first year and $20,000 last year, with even bigger contributions expected this year. Jimmy Tarantino, who competed on "Survivor Nicaragua" in 2010, helped raise $5,000 for Michelle's Place through a recent reality event held in his hometown of Gloucester, Mass.

"I don't usually do fundraisers," Tarantino said Friday. "But Gillian's passion for this is contagious. It's a real joy for me to be part of the whole process."

Today's events will include the main reality event and a "Kidz Challenge," in which children 15 and under and their families can compete in challenges of their own for a $10 fee. Open casting calls for four reality TV shows will be held from 9-11 a.m. and 2:30-4 p.m. Many other events will be held throughout the day.

For more information, visit the Reality Rally website.

Menifee residents Dorothy Wolons (left) and Robbie Motter (right) greeted event coordinator Gillian Larson at Friday's reception.

Proceeds from the event benefit Michelle's Place for breast cancer resources.

Menifee businesswoman Jennifer Walker worked as a Blackjack dealer at the Casino Night, hosted Friday by Aaron Rachman's Feeling Lucky Entertainment.


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