June 26, 2008 08:00 AM by Ryan Haidet
Dozens of reality stars made their way to the fifth annual Kentuckiana Police and Firefighter Summer Bash Benefit last weekend in Louisville, Kentucky, for a good cause – to raise money to buy presents for kids stuck in the hospital on Christmas.
This was another stellar event that was worth every penny. Those responsible for the weekend’s activities made sure that everybody felt welcome and treated as if they were family. If they didn’t know you before you got to the event, they knew plenty about you before you headed home. That’s what makes this charity so worthwhile because guests realize how much they are appreciated.
There was never a dull moment. Plenty of one-on-one time was allotted to anybody who wanted to chat with their favorite contestants. This gave everybody there (even a fan like myself) the opportunity to see what some of these folks are truly like. I got to chat with Natalie Bolton about her experience with being vilified on Survivor: Micronesia – which is a shock considering how polite she is in person. And it was great to listen to Jay Hatkow’s story on how he heard the news that the show he was on – Pirate Master – was canceled (he was driving in his car when he heard it over the radio).
This was definitely a fans’ event and perfect in every way. Truly another five-star spectacle.
Previous Survivors including Yau-Man Chan, Ami Cusack, Todd Herzog, James Clement, “Boston Rob” Mariano, Amber Mariano, Bobby Jon Drinkard, Courtney Yates, Amanda Kimmel and Chris Daugherty (just to name a few) made an appearance. The Amazing Race was represented as well because Louisville locals Kynt and Vyxsin stopped by. Other celebrities stopping out included Jay Hatkow of Pirate Master, Raviv “Ricky” Ullman of Disney’s Phil of the Future and Ken Osmond who played Eddie Haskell on Leave it to Beaver. And that’s just naming a select few. The money for charity started coming in Friday night with a boat ride on the Ohio River. There were more reality stars on this ship than fans and sponsors, so there was plenty of opportunity for interaction with the reality stars. Not only by chatting with them, but by eating with them and even dancing with them. This was a great way for any fan to actually see what these folks are like face to face. Not too many other charity events offer this kind of interaction and that’s why this one is so good. The boat ride lasted several hours allowing fans ample time to get any desired autographs.
Then on Saturday, a day was spent at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. This year, however, the park was used to bring in several thousands of dollars for the charity. Guests who paid at least $1,000 got to participate in an Amazing Race-style challenge with a few of the celebrities as their teammates. From the start, the teams had to open clues that would lead them to various destinations in the park where they were forced to ride roller coasters, water rides and play games before reaching the finish line.
Although it took more than two hours to complete the challenge, it seemed everybody had a great time because it helped raise a lot of money. And it was great for guests in the park because they were seeing lots of celebrities running around. And for the fans who paid to participate – it was even better. How fun would it be to run in a race with Rob and Amber? How often do you get an opportunity like that? It’s for those reasons that more than a dozen people dished out the cash to do just that. And just like in Survivor: All-Stars, Boston Rob and his team finished second, while his wife Amber and her team won the whole thing. Members of the winning team each took home a personalized Louisville Slugger baseball bat that was turned into a Survivor torch – definitely an awesome memento.
After Six Flags, the celebrities and sponsors sat down for a private dinner before getting ready for the main Saturday night event. Hundreds of tickets had been sold at $50 a pop, which meant the stars were ready to sign plenty of autographs and take loads of pictures. This high-class event is what sets the Kentuckiana Police and Firefighter Summer Bash Benefit apart from others. Fans are face to face with the stars – not put at a distance. And even though the banquet lasted several hours, that time flew by because there was so much fun being had.
Each year, organizers Kelly Jones and Matt Keith never fail to impress me with how much dedication and care they have for their cause. If these two weren’t such close friends, the event would be nowhere near the huge success it is. Both men are so likeable that they leave a long-lasting impression. And it’s obviously true because many of the stars who show up for the event have been there more than once.
None of the celebrities were paid for their time over the weekend. In fact, they all paid for their own transportation to get to the event because they knew they were going to something special with people who cared. They knew it’d be worth dropping some of their own money to help out those less fortunate. They knew that once they got to Louisville that they were among friends that they wanted to spend time with. Kelly and Matt have created a wonderful atmosphere that will likely be around for some time because it seems to keep growing each and every year. If you can only make it to one reality television event in a year, this is definitely the one to hit. A good time in every way, and I can’t wait for next year!
In the coming days and weeks keep checking RealityTVMagazine.com to read more about the event, its organizers and interviews with some of the favorite reality stars who stopped by to help raise money for the cause.