Last year they raised $13,000 for Reality Rally. This year, they’re back and ready to beat their previous mind-boggling fundraising record. Reality Rally’s “Three Amigos” Rick Fortin, Steven Pickett and John Vataha are challenging the community to join them and are hoping to pass on their passion for endless fundraising.
The seventh annual Reality Rally is a three-day nonprofit event to raise money for Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center and is the biggest gathering of reality T.V. celebrities in the country. Some of the events include a lip-sync showdown, red carpet reception and casino night, celebrity chef showcase and of the always-popular Reality Rally Race, an “Amazing Race” style game throughout Old Town Temecula. This year, Reality Rally will be held the weekend of April 6-8 and the race will take on April 8.
Fortin is a high school math teacher who live in Alpine, California. The father of three kids spends most of his time with his family, and just celebrated his 21st wedding anniversary. Though two of his children are grown up and in college, his 9-year-old son will be at home for a while yet. Fortin coaches his son’s soccer and baseball teams. “I’m pretty much a family person,” he said.
Pickett, father of five and grandfather of 10, resides in Emory, Oklahoma He describes himself as a “pretty simply kinda guy.” Picket is a machinist; he remanufactures parts for construction equipment and enjoys playing golf in his free time. His favorite show is “Survivor.” He said it has become almost an obsession; he’s applied to be on the show multiple times. “We’re getting close,” he said.
Vataha is self-employed and the father of three grown children. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife, “doing that whole empty-nester thing.” The couple made the move to Arizona five years ago after tiring of the long winter months in Pennsylvania which inhibited them from enjoying the outdoors. He loves to stay active, mostly hiking and biking, he said.
The three friends share a love for the reality show, “Survivor.” Fortin’s obsession with “Survivor” and “Survivor” casting calls has thrived for many years, though his family laughs at him because he’s never been chosen as a contestant. After meeting Pickett on Facebook through a blog for “Survivor” fans, he won tickets to a “Survivor” finale show and invited Pickett to tag along. At the event, they met Vataha and ever since, all three have stayed touch.
“Even of my lifelong friends,” Fortin said, “they’re probably two of the best friends that I have. I can’t say enough about them.”
After meeting former “Survivor” cast member Gillian Larson at the finale show, Fortin invited her to speak at his high school, and later received an email from her regarding Reality Rally. He contacted the other two amigos about the event, and they’ve “been doing it ever since,” he said.
“Being a big fan of ‘Survivor,’” Pickett said, “Gillian has always been great friend of mine.” Once Pickett met her and learned of her plans for Reality Rally, he was excited to participate. Together, the Three Amigos determined to compete in the race.
“I would literally do anything for John or Rick,” Pickett said. “It’s unbelievable how strong our friendship is.”
Vataha became aware of Reality Rally after Pickett mentioned the event. “He called me up one day and said, ‘I just heard about this thing and we’ve got to do it.’” Pickett knew about Vataha’s competitive nature. Thinking Reality Rally sounded like a neat challenge, they joined Fortin to see how good they really they were at “Survivor”-type competitions, Vataha said.
The Three Amigos are excited to raise fund for Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center.
“You realize this isn’t just a charity,” Fortin said. “Every time we meet those parents, I just give them a giant hug.” He explains that he thinks of Michelle’s Place as his own charity, because the cause has become so personal to him.
“I love Michelle’s mom and dad; they’re wonderful, wonderful people. For us, it translates into the fact that everyone has been touched by breast cancer in some way or some form,” Pickett said. “The way they do things, and the way they help these ladies is top notch.” He hopes that places like Michelle’s Place can be made available in all states.
“The first year it was all about the competition. We might have seen the name Michelle’s Place, but we really had no idea what that was all about,” Vataha said. It wasn’t until the second year that the Three Amigos visited Michelle’s Place as part of the Reality Rally weekend. The visit gave them a visual of what had previously been “just a charity that sounded like a neat thing.”
“You can donate thousands of dollars to a big charity, and you get a standard thank you letter in the mail, and you don’t know much about where the money went,” Vataha said. “But when you hear about how many women were saved last year, and what kind of services they do at Michelle’s Place, it just makes you feel more personally connected.”
Fortin hopes to bring out the competitive side of all Reality Rally fundraising teams. When a team gets close to the Three Amigo’s fundraising records, it motivates them to work harder. “If you think you’re better than us, then raise more money than us,” Fortin said.
Pickett hopes to motivate all Reality Rally teams to raise as much money as they possibly can. “Don’t just raise what you want to try to raise, raise as much as you possibly can,” Pickett said. He reminds fundraising teams that each additional hundred dollars provides an additional mammogram for a woman in need.
Vataha said that he wants fundraising teams to focus on the “evolution of thought” that the Three Amigos went through. Over time, the team began to realize that fundraising wasn’t just about acquiring the minimum amount to qualify for the race. Fundraising was a continuous effort to raise more and more money, even after reaching their goal.
“We’re trying to give people a message that says, ‘Hey guys, while you’re still on that platform, with 15 minutes of fame, do something with it,’” he said. “Don’t just be satisfied that you raised the minimum amount of $400, think about the next 100 or 200 bucks. These are services that are being provided to real people.”
All in all, the Three Amigos hope to make the idea of fundraising tangible for Reality Rally participants. Their stories are encouragement for event attendees and participants with the drive and motivation to never say, “That’s good enough.” This year the Three Amigos challenge everyone to keep pressing on, even after reaching their desired goals. Don’t stop. You might just raise $13,000, like the Three Amigos.
For more information on Reality Rally, including profiles of all the reality stars participating, links to fundraising and how to sign up to participate visit www.realityrally.com.