July 02, 2007 08:25 PM by Joe Blackmon
Written By Ryan Haidet. This weekend (Friday, July 6 and Saturday, July 7) more than 30 celebrities, including favorites from
Survivor and The Amazing Race will be in Louisville, Kentucky, to raise
money for Kosair Charities and Kosair Kids at the fourth Kentuckiana
Police and Firefighter Summer Bash Benefit. The money brought in at the
events will be used to purchase gifts for children stuck in the
hospital during Christmas.
Stars in attendance include (to name a few) from Survivor: Yau-Man Chan, Rupert Boneham, Bobby Jon, Cirie Fields, Coby Archa and Bruce Kanegai. Along with those are David and Mary Conley from The Amazing Race. Several special guests include Vincent Pastore of The Sopranos and Ken Osmond of Leave it to Beaver.
Lieutenant Kelly Jones, a reality television fan himself, is one who helped make all of this possible. “We used to do the old shop-with-a-cop program here in Louisville where we’d take a certain amount of kids shopping and spend X amount of dollars on those kids,” Jones said of how the event came to be. “We had a gentleman who was a doctor at the local children’s hospital who was involved in the sheriff’s department. He came to us and he said, ‘You know, there are a lot of needs at our children’s hospital and a lot of kids that are stuck there for Christmas, they’re from out of town, they’re from out of state, all different kinds of things.’ So we tried one year to go to the hospital during Christmas and we took gifts for all the kids who were stuck in the children’s hospital for Christmas. It went over so big that we decided that it was going to be something that we did every year.
“This year, for the first time, I think we’re going to be able to branch out a little more than that, but the basic premise of this night is to finance the Christmas shopping trip at Kosair Children’s Hospital,” Jones said. “Anything that we have left over can be distributed to Kosair Charities to be used for any other Kosair Kids events or needs.”
It all starts Friday with the celebrities getting a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum, followed by a visit to Churchill Downs where the famed Kentucky Derby is held. Friday night hosts the celebrity cruise on the Ohio River. “The celebrity cruise was originally designed for me just to entertain my celebrity guests and just get out and do something different,” said Jones, who has worked as a police officer for 20 years. “You know, you can’t get on a boat on the river everywhere and I thought, ‘Well I’ll just do this as something nice.’ Well then we got to talking about it and we said, ‘You know, what we ought to do is offer a limited number of tickets to the public as a fundraising event and if they want to go on the cruise with us, they can pay a special price and go on the cruise.’ And the Louisville Star, the boat, is holding this cruise special for us. We’ll have our celebrities on there with however many folks end up buying tickets for the cruise. Those tickets are $50 a piece (and available online). We will sail on the Ohio River for about 90 minutes. We’ll have hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar and it will just be like a very intimate social mixer on a charter boat on the Ohio River.”
Saturday brings a visit to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. “I’m taking them over there to enjoy the park because they’ve got a great water park and some great rides. And secondly, we will do probably a 60 or 90 minute autograph session there as well,” Jones continued. Anybody in the park can get an autograph. “Once they know what time and where it is, they’re free to stop by and get autographs.”
For Saturday night, the main event, which costs $25 will be at the Galt House Hotel, has many things including door prizes, a live band, an Elvis impersonator, hors d’oeuvres, among other things. “It’s just kind of like going to a giant dance,” Jones said. A digital photographer will be there to take pictures of fans with celebrities. “It (photograph) will be ready for them (fans) in about five minutes in a cardboard frame, and then they can take it back over to their table and get it signed or personalized while they wait – that’s a guarantee. And that’s what makes it really neat. Folks leave there (and) they know they got great value for what they did. They felt like they were treated special, they weren’t put at arms length from my guests and they felt like they were truly part of the festivities and I think that’s what people enjoy.”
Kelly Jones’ main concern is the charity. “I’m proud to be associated with great people and a good charity. And it’s an emotional paycheck for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s one small thing that Kelly Jones can do to make and possibly leave the world a little better place than he found it and I’m happy with that. , It’s about charity. It’s not about me or anything else. It’s about coming together for a couple days of fun and some kids win in the long run.”
Coby Archa of Survivor: Palau is excited to be invited to the event. “This is one of the few events we get invited to that has real celebrities, not just reality ones,” he said in an e-mail. “I have heard it is great, but honestly, when it comes to these things, I follow my heart and this charity sounds exciting so I am thrilled to be a part of it. Period.” Having done several charity events now, Archa said it’s something he has to do when asked. “How can you not? People ask you to help and you have to. It isn’t a choice for me.” He’s also looking forward to meeting people. “Getting to meet all the other people from all the other seasons where you share this bond that nobody will ever understand but them.”
Jake Billingsley of Survivor: Thailand will also be making an appearance at the event getting to “meet some new people and hopefully help raise money for the kids,” he said in an e-mail. His only expectation, he said, is to help raise lots of money for the charity. “Before Survivor I would donate time and money to an event which would not make much of a difference. Now I can help raise thousands at each and every event. Pain and suffering is inevitable but misery is optional. Hopefully I’ll always be able to give a helping hand to those who are less fortunate.”
Kentucky state residents, David and Mary Conley of two seasons of The Amazing Race said this is their first charity event. “We were invited by Kelly Jones (organizer), the Lieutenant,” Mary said. “I think that we’re trying to do anything we can to help, you know. It’s for the kids in Louisville and Louisville is part of Kentucky.” Self-proclaimed huge fans of reality TV, they said they are looking forward to meeting other members of the reality TV family. “Look at everybody’s who going to be there,” Mary said. “Rupert’s (Boneham) going to be there. Wow, all of the celebrities they have coming is amazing. We just can’t wait to go meet them.”
Her husband David, the coalminer, said it’s great to be a member of the reality TV community. “It’s awesome. It still really hasn’t sunken in to neither one of us. To us, we’re just big fans of reality TV basically, and now we’re part of the reality world and it’s really awesome because I remember before I was on the show, I would’ve died – I’m still gonna die when I meet Rupert. Now there’s actually people who are wanting to shake my hand and want me to give an autograph. It’s really awesome, it’s a great feeling.”
For Mary, doing this charity “means the world to me. When we went on The Amazing Race 10, more 10 than 11, we saw a lot of poverty and a lot of kids who were really struggling. I came back and I told my kids, ya know, they cry because they want a new game or they want to go to McDonalds or they want to go to the movies. These kids cry because they just needed a drink of water. That was my goal I made it in season 10, is to help as many kids as I can because it just makes you realize how lucky we are. I never realized how lucky I was until I went on The Amazing Race. And that’s when I realized that my kids are the luckiest kids in the world. They have a mommy and daddy and they have food and their daddy has a job. And we have running water. Just the simplest little thing that we take for granted every day, other kids are dying for in the world.”
Finally, a cast member of Survivor: Panama – Exile Island, Bruce Kanegai will be there as well. He has been involved with charity for years. “First, the main concern is helping make a successful charity and fundraiser for the law enforcement and for the firefighters of Louisville,” Kanegai said. “That’s my main purpose because whenever I go on anything, it’s the charity first. I want the people who support the charity, especially the first-timers, to take this as the best event or money well-spent. I just want to represent the Survivor cast in a very kind, cheerful, generous way.” He said he likes to make people happy simply because he was on a reality show. In doing so, he has passed out his own autographed photos to fans all across the country. “I’ve probably given out over 4,000 photographs,” he said. “Once again, just to make some person happy, and especially Survivor fans. I just thank them for being a great fan. I just love talking to people and finding out about them. Just hope I can make somebody smile because I was on Survivor. , The hardships on Survivor was worth it.”
For a complete list of everybody in attendance, prices and locations, visit the official Web site of the event at www.kpffb.org.