Gillian Larson lauds Reality Rally volunteers

Reality Rally team of volunteers gather with Gillian Larson.
Reality Rally team of volunteers gather with Gillian Larson.

It takes a village to put the popular Reality Rally weekend together, according to founder Gillian Larson.

“I couldn’t do it without the key production team who makes this event a success,” she said.

Reality Rally is a labor of love, according to those present, and at the forefront is Larson, lifting each team member up with a smile, a laugh, and her typical no-nonsense flair.

Volunteers met to get their proverbial ducks in a row for the April 10-11 event. Repeat volunteers had a chance to share their heart for why they love Reality Rally weekend, and the rewards that don’t come with a paycheck.

Gaylon Holland, a self-proclaimed Reality Rally addict, logistical coordinator of the event, discussed his role.

“My goal is to support all of the production team as best I can, to make this event enjoyable for all of you. There is not an aspect of the event that I don’t have a finger on, or am not a part of,” he said.

Gaylon’s wife, Lily, handles the reality stars.

“I get the stars here and make sure fundraising is met,” Lily said. “Each star must earn $500 to donate toward Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center. If they don’t earn the entry fee by the deadline date, they don’t get to participate.”

Larson’s celebrity rules are strict, but there is method behind the madness.

“Without the fundraising, the stars would just have a two-day party,” Larson said. All present agreed that Michelle’s Place visit is a key moment for the stars, who get to meet the Wilson family, and hear Michelle’s story.

“This year, our schedule is a bit different,” stated Larson. “We’ve trimmed parts of the event that cost more and earned less money for Michelle’s place, and have added others that we feel will be a phenomenal success.” Added is a Thursday night, April 9 event open to the public at Michelle’s Place, where “Survivor” John Carrol and “Hell’s Kitchen” Sandra Flores will speak about their personal and family experiences with breast cancer.

Last year’s celebrity chef event, styled after the Food Network show, “Chopped” will return in the “Celebrity Chef Cook-off,” which is already heartily anticipated, according to the Celebrity Chef coordinator, Kim Ornelas. “We have just released our Celebrity Chef Cook Book,” Ornelas said. “Our chefs actually talked with the Wilson family, and learned about Michelle’s favorite foods and recipes. Those are incorporated into this cookbook, making it truly special,” Ornelas said.

Of the 89 celebrity stars in attendance for Reality Rally weekend, 19 of them are chefs from 10different cooking shows. “This is one of the largest groups in Reality Rally,” Ornelas said, “our celebrity chefs truly loved the cook-off last year, and are most excited about coming back to perform Saturday night.”

Changes had to be made to the evening on Saturday night, due to permits and timing. Though beer and wine won’t be served at the event, Larson smiled. “More business for the bars of Old Town Temecula.”

David Paget, who has been with Reality Rally for three of its five years, spoke on his part of the event, with a laugh. “It’s chaos, but fun chaos,” he said. “The first year, there was the event we planned, the event we thought we were going to have, and the event that happened.”

The “Amazing Race” style main event from start to finish is coordinated by the Start to Finish team, organized by Joanie Hoover.

“We run a tight ship,” Hoover said. “Teams have to fulfill every part of the race before they can finish. We don’t allow teams to just rush in.”

Larsen expressed thanks to all volunteers. “Though mine is the name that everyone mentions during this event, it is because of these people that everything gets done,” Larson said. “We’re that duck, with its head above water, serene and moving, and underneath the feet are pedaling like crazy.”

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