Night of Hollywood-style glamour to help those in need, honor members of the community

Red Carpet photos and interviews greet guests of the “Valleywood” experience at the 2017 Stars of the Valley event held at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa Feb. 4. Scott Padgett of Time Stood Still Photography photo

More than 500 people will attend a night of Hollywood-style glitz and glamour at Pechanga Resort & Casino as wishes are granted to those in need and community leaders are honored.

The 12th annual iteration of Stars of the Valley will begin 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3. The Golden Globes-styled event seeks to grant the wishes of an adult, young adult and child who have life-threatening illnesses or traumatic injuries, according to event founder Charity Prestifilippo.

Additionally, awards will be given out to members of the community for good work that they’ve done, she said.

“It’s a special night on so many levels,” Prestifilippo said. “You’ll be laughing, you’ll be crying happy tears, you’ll be touched, you’ll be inspired. You’ll leave there with a changed heart because it’s such an impactful event and there are so many layers and levels to it.”

These are the three honorees who will have their wishes granted this year.

Brandy Barkely

Barkely, who has lupus, developed two other serious conditions while on medication for the illness. Because the lupus medication compromised her immune system, a fungus that was dormant in Barkely’s body began to run rampant, and she was eventually diagnosed with disseminated histoplasmosis. She was also diagnosed with HLH, a life-threatening immune system condition.

Barkely survived HLH, but the wife and mother of two still deals with histoplasmosis and lupus. Because the medications for the two conditions contradict each other, Barkely lives with excruciating pain as her lupus goes untreated.

Keston Denhalter

Denhalter, a Vista Murrieta High School student, was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma at the age of 15 and had to go through a tough chemotherapy regiment that lowered his immunity and left him with a number of illnesses which hospitalized him for six weeks, including E.coli, C. Diff colitis, a respiratory condition and a fungal infection on his spleen. After the six-week stint, he had to learn to walk unassisted again and write.

He continued his chemotherapy again into July, when he suffered another “perfect storm” of illness due to his lowered immunity, including excruciating pain caused by pancreatitis, fluid in his chest and pneumonia.

Raelynn Hoffa

Raelynn Hoffa, 5, has a MYlk gene mutation and vascular disorder that limits blood flow to her organs. She has suffered eight strokes which limit her physical abilities and ability to speak. She is the subject of multiple studies around the world as she is the only person known to have such a condition.

Additional Guests

Chelsea Romo of Wildomar, a survivor of the Las Vegas shooting, and Alex Ruiz, a Linfield Christian School quarterback who made the decision to amputate his leg following an injury, are special guests who have been invited to the event.

“In sharing those stories, and having the beneficiaries there, you become connected in a way that you don’t get to be connected otherwise,” Prestifilippo said. “Because they’re onstage, you’re witnessing the effect your support has on these individuals.”

At the conclusion of the recipients receiving wishes, members of the community will be awarded in eight different categories, including the “Temecula Has Heart, Because Nice Matters” Award, “Team Player” Award and “Honorary Service” Award.

One special award is the Stars in the Sky award which is given to members of the community who support the mission of Stars of the Valley and the organization behind it, Charity for Charity.

This year’s award will be honoring Valley News’ Paul Bandong, a longtime supporter of nonprofits in the area. Bandong died early last month.

The glitz and glam will be noticeable as soon as the event starts with a red carpet arrival, paparazzi, interviews and auctions.

This year, four tickets to go see Aladdin at the Pantages in Los Angeles will be auctioned off and a number from the play will be performed by two musical theater experts.

Also performing during the event will be Anatalia Villaranda from season 12 of The Voice, according to Prestifilippo.

Though the entertainment will add to the fun of the event, the most memorable part will be the impact on honorees and guests, Prestifilippo said.

“You just leave knowing what happened there is something so much bigger than any of us, and I always just say that I’m doing God’s work because I just don’t feel like I could make this all possible with my team. It just is bigger than us,” she said. “It’s hard to put that into words, but this is event is so unique in the sense that you can’t leave without being changed in some way, shape or form.”

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