Over 5,000 people attended this year’s Reality Rally event, in its fifth year of fundraising for Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center.
The 98 reality stars in attendance – from primetime to lesser known cable channels – all capture attention beyond their 15 minutes of fame. At the heart of it is a real issue, which was the theme of 2015’s event, looking to a future with no breast cancer.
“We are all touched by cancer in some way,” stated Gillian Larson, “Survivor: Gabon” cast member, and founder of the event.
As is tradition, the reality stars each had to earn at least $500 donation to Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center as entrance fee for the fun for funds event. However, a few managed to go far beyond that.
“We’ve watched Brad Bohannan of ‘Bar Rescue’ and Liza Stinton of ‘Big Brother Canada’ battle it out to see who won the top fundraiser. Liza crossed the finish line as our top earner, and received special rewards before the weekend began.” Larson said.
Stinton celebrated with a flight over Temecula, and a wine tour of Falkner Winery. Other top earners were granted a hot air balloon ride with A Grape Escape Hot Air Balloon Adventures, ending with a sparkling wine toast Europa Village Winery.
Top stories of the Thursday-Saturday event stretched from the challenges of battling cancer to a red carpet engagement.
John Carroll of “Survivor: Marquesas” spoke to attendees at Thursday night’s discussion on becoming your own advocate when it comes to breast density. A medical malpractice attorney, Carroll added his personal experience with his mother and sister.
Romance was in the air at Friday night’s Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyard’s Casino Night fundraiser. Temecula local, Amanda Colello of “Hell’s Kitchen,” was the star with her romantic red carpet engagement to Chase Palmer. Palmer dropped to one knee with the ring and proposed.
“(Chase) knows just how much Reality Rally and Michelle’s Place mean to me, and that he wanted to make one of my happiest weekends of the year even more special,” Colello said.
Saturday morning’s race day was charged with “Back to the Future” elements.
“This year with the ‘Back to the Future’ date on its way, it’s time to look to a future without breast cancer,” Larson said. “We celebrated with our own version of ‘Doc Brown,’ the DeLorean, and the Old Town Temecula Gunfighters.”
Reality stars and their teams competed in 13 challenges spread throughout Old Town Temecula.
“I loved my team,” stated Xiomara Hall of “Supermarket Superstar,” describing their journey through Old Town. “We laughed so much.”
The “Three Amigos,” top fundraisers of five years running, won the weekend, completing their race in one hour.
While Temecula Valley residents were invited to the free to attend event, fans and VIP ticket holders came from across the country, such as Rob and Marty Allison of Fort Pierre, SD.
“Few events have the capacity to move your heart and fill your soul – Reality Rally does just that,” Rob said. “There is no denying that the VIP pass is the way to get the total reality immersion.”
Autograph signing around the town square fountain allowed fans one-on-one time with the celebrities. While in the park, fairy tale characters showed special attention to the youth present. Kids also got to compete in challenges of their own during afternoon festivities.
Entertainment was provided through local chorus groups and area school performers. They gave a festive air leading up to the Celebrity Chef Showcase, won by Rob Burmeister of “Cutthroat Kitchen” and Kevin Des Chenes of “Chef Wanted.”
“It’s not that often that you get to compete with such well-rounded chefs, with even greater personalities.” Burmeister said of his competition. “It’s not easy but it sure is fun.”
Barret Beyer of “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Kitchen Casino,” and “Cutthroat Kitchen” described the Chef’s Showcase.
“I think the event being held at city hall was amazing and glad I went on when it was dark out,” Beyer said. “It looked like I was in front of The Magic Kingdom.”
The weekend culminated with Sandra Flores of “Hell’s Kitchen Season 12” on the steps of city hall following the Celebrity Chef Showcase, where she spoke of her journey through stage-four breast cancer.
“I was cutting it close, but I’m surviving.” Flores said in an emotional speech. A first-time Reality Rally contestant, Flores refused to miss the event even though she just finished six months of daily chemotherapy.
“It’s a long road and still isn’t over,” she said. “But there is so much going on, I’ve got a lot left to do.”
Flores went the extra mile this year in crafting recipes from Michelle’s Place namesake, Michelle Watson’s, favorite foods for the premier edition of the “Reality Rally Celebrity Chef Cookbook” available for purchase and signing through www.RealityRally.com. All profits go to Michelle’s Place.
For more information on Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center, visit www.MichellesPlace.org.
For more information on Reality Rally, visit www.RealityRally.com.