Like most weekends, the streets in historic downtown Temecula were packed this past Saturday, April 12. The usual Saturday shoppers and sightseers got the treat of their lives around noon though, when 120 reality TV stars along with their teammates took to the streets in an Amazing Race style event to raise money for Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center during the fourth annual Reality Rally.
The brainchild of Survivor Gabon contestant Gillian Larson, the event boasted reality star power from a variety of shows including Hell’s Kitchen, Beauty and the Geek, Big Brother, The Amazing Race and of course, Survivor.
The stars came out on their own dime to support the cause, raising money to compete in the race, take part in the first ever Celebrity Chef’s Showcase and get up close and personal with fans during a Meet and Greet held on the grounds of City Hall Saturday morning.
Stars such as Richard Hatch, the winner of the inaugural season of Survivor, Alex Jacobs from The Mole, and EJ Snyder from Naked and Afraid took the time to sign autographs and chat with fans prior to the start of the race.
Each star had to raise a minimum of $400 to participate in the event which included challenges such as bull riding at the Stampede, rock climbing on the grounds of City Hall and a mental challenge at The Merc.
Final numbers for money raised are not yet available as the fundraising continues until April 30.
“We make an impact and we make a difference in many people’s lives,” said Larson. “The final donation amount will be later down the road when I can finish tying it up.”
Larson said she is grateful to the participants, volunteers, and organizations who put on the challenges and production team alike.
“As always I am in awe how so many people take this on as an event for them to produce; they all jumped on this opportunity and make it happen.” Larson said. “I have a production team of 50 who each have a part in the entire event that they take on and make it their own. The organizations that put on the challenges are so on board and they also just make it their own to represent who they are and about 400 volunteers all together who volunteer their entire weekend. I just can never, ever thank everybody enough for what they do and how they own it. I have to take my hat off and bow in gratitude to everybody who basically took my jungle vision out of my head and have made it such an amazing reality.”
The overall winning team for the race, which included both mental and physical challenges, was Super Above Average with Rachel Villegas from Amazing Race and Big Brother. The winning team for the City Council Division was Lake Elsinore City Council with Jodi Wincheski from the Amazing Race. The winning team of the Corporate Cup Division was Fisch Productions with Bruce Kanegai from Survivor.
Top fundraisers for the event to date are Liza Stinton from Big Brother Canada who raised over $13,000 and Team Three Amigos who raised over $6,000.
Michelle’s Place executive Kim Goodnough says the money raised at Reality Rally will go a long way in meeting the needs of breast cancer patients in need of testing and diagnostic
“The funds from Reality Rally will benefit our Breast Health Assistance program which provides uninsured women who are symptomatic and under 40-year- old with diagnostic breast health services like mammograms, surgery consults and biopsies,” Goodnough said. “It’s one of our most important programs because it deals with women who have a lump in their breast and they don’t know if they have breast cancer or not and they can’t afford to find out.”
According to Goodnough, Reality Rally helps to get the word out about Michelle’s Place and what they do while providing awareness.
“Younger women specifically don’t get breast cancer…but younger women die faster because the cancer is more aggressive,” said Goodnough. “It’s more important to be checking and knowing what your risks are and doing monthly self breast exams, all that stuff is so important when you are young and finding it early is key. The awareness component is huge.”
For more information on Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center visit www.michellesplace.org. To donate to Reality Rally, visit www.realityrally.com.