July 07, 2008 08:00 AM by Ryan Haidet
Dozens of reality stars went out to Louisville, Kentucky, in late June to help raise money for charity. All of them seemed impressed with Kelly Jones and Matt Keith, the two men responsible for the fifth annual Kentuckiana Police and Firefighter Summer Bash Benefit.
Bobby Jon Drinkard of Survivor: Palau and Survivor: Guatemala has been at the event for the last two years:
“The thing that brings me back here is not so much the charity, although it is. The bottom line that brings me back here is Matt Keith and Kelly Jones. That’s what brings me back here, those two men. If you want to know how to be something, then go look at those two men right there, because to me, they are a pure example of what it is to give back, give your time. … They do a great job of putting this production on. Any time you help kids, that’s great, but I know whatever Matt and Kelly are into and going to do, that you better believe that it’s top-notch, 100 percent. They’re just good, good people. You know after this charity, I could be 40 miles away from here and I could call up Matt and Kelly and they would come and pick me up. They’d do it for you, they’d do it for anybody. They’re just good, good people.”
Former police officer Cristina Coria of Survivor: Cook Islands says this charity holds a special place in her heart because of its cause:
“Being a police officer, I mean it’s like a brotherhood. It’s a great event and helping the kids. I love kids, I love working with kids and anything I can do to help kids is like a passion for me.”
Above image taken by Leah Machek at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom.
Tracy Hughes-Wolf, a fan playing on Survivor: Micronesia — Fans Vs. Favorites heard good things about the charity from previous reality stars who came before:
“I’ve heard so many fabulous things about this charity through Dave and Mary, from the Amazing Race. We did the Reality Rumble in Virginia, and they said, ‘You gottat try Kentucky.’ Look what they’ve done in five years. I mean, this is like a blow out. This is a home run. They’ve knocked it completely out of the park.” Tracy said she would love to come back next year. “Absolutely, I’ll come back. I’ll come back and pay to get here every time.”
Denise Martin of Survivor: China said the Kentucky charity event was a lot of fun:
“I talked to Mary (of Amazing Race) about it and she said it was going to be like for the Children’s Hospital. You know I’m all about the kids, I love kids. I do whatever I can to take care of them, I help them out. You gotta support everybody else and they invited me and that was just like unbelievable. It’s like I never did anything like this before. I am having such a great time. It’s run so well.” And getting here took a while since she and her family drove all the way from Boston. “We left at 11 o’clock on Wednesday night and we got here at 2 o’clock on Thursday afternoon. We drove straight through.”
Courtney Yates of Survivor: China says she doesn’t do many public appearances, but she was glad she made a stop in Louisville:
“This charity has been a whole lot of fun. Todd (Herzog, winner of Survivor: China)was gonna go and I think he asked me if I wanted to go and they said, ‘We’re going to Six Flags,’ and I was like, ‘I love roller coasters, I’ll go.’ So this is really fun. I don’t really do a lot of events for Survivor. I sort of have ducked my head under water a little bit as far as making appearances and things like that, but I’ve had a lot of fun and I’m really glad that I came. It’s really well organized, I love the people. Matt and Kelly are great. And I’ve had a really fun time.”
“It’s exciting. We’ve had the chance to do a couple of these charity events where they bring in lots of reality stars,” Vyxsin said. “It’s like Reality-O-Rama. It is neat for us because some of these people are people we’ve watched from our living rooms and enjoyed seeing years ago when they were on their season. So it’s definitely a treat to get to hobnob with the folks and it’s also really cool to see everyone coming together to do something good. When you’re in reality TV, often, unfortunately for us, it’s not 15 minutes of fame, it can be 15 seconds. But to get to take that little spotlight on you and come together and shine it on a bigger cause and something really worthwhile, I think that’s really beautiful and really cool and I think that speaks really highly of our little group.”
Kynt said it’s great to be able to use their momentary stardom to raise money for those less fortunate. “We have this very momentary, transient, superpower thanks to a TV show,” Kynt said. “It’s like if we get involved in a cause and we’re able to project a lot of attention to it, whereas media and whatnot might look past it, it adds a lot of meaning to it. I’ll admit it, when I was watching myself on the TV I was jumping up and down around the room, I was dancing. I was like, ‘Look at me, I’m on the TV!’ I’m not afraid to admit it, it’s fun. It’s a really whacky, surreal thing, seeing yourself on a television screen and being like, ‘Look mom, I’m on TV.” It really keeps you grounded and adds something substantial to this experience being able to do an event like this. We’ve heard already it has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Kosair. That’s substantial. That’s a big deal. The event promoters and organizers, they really do a great job on it. This is an annual event, this firefighters and police benefit ball, so I encourage people to plan ahead for next year. It’s a great time to road trip out. And you don’t just get to meet one reality star, but you get to meet multiple people from multiple TV shows, Amazing Race, Survivor, Farmer Wants A Wife, Outback Jack, Pirate Master, all represented this year. Who knows who’s gonna be here next year.”
Yau-Man Chan of both Survivor: Fiji and Survivor: Micronesia returned for a second year:
“Last year I did three or four out-of-town events and this one was the best. It’s well run, really class act all the way. If I decide to do out of town, this would be the one that I would do. I always like the fact that it’s for children’s charities.
Making his fourth appearance, Travis “Bubba” Sampson of Survivor: Vanuatu said he’ll keep coming as long as they have them:
“They’ve had it for five years, so this is my fourth time. The huge impact they’re having with the community and helping with the children and things like that. And I think that’s why so many of the celebrities come out and don’t charge because they really believe in working with them to help the children. I mean, that’s a soft spot. I enjoy it, it’s great. I think this is probably one of the best fundraisers and benefits that we do. Matt and Kelly, they’re public servants. And it’s great they take a lot of the negative things they see, and situations that children are in, and are able to turn it into a positive to give back to the community. It’s like their whole life is dedicated to serving the public. So, my hat’s off to them and those are your heroes. Not us, we’re not the celebrities, they are. … I like this event because we’re able to mingle. We’re not put behind a table where people come up, get an autograph and go. We can actually talk, get to know the fans, get to know their families and things like that. And so many of the Survivors have gotten to know fans so well that we’ve got cell phone numbers and e-mails that we keep in touch and stuff like that. I just think it’s awesome that we can be in touch with the community like that.”
First image also courtesy of Bret Sohl.