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Kentucky Charity Event Brings Big Praise

July 03, 2009 02:46 PM by Ryan Haidet

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It was the place to be. Dozens of reality television stars from Survivor, the Amazing Race, Pirate Master and American Idol descended upon Louisville, Kentucky, for the sixth annual Kentuckiana Police & Firefighter’s Summer Bash Benefit. Fans of reality TV were given the opportunity to meet their favorite cast members last Saturday (June 27) while raising money for a good cause — Kosair Charities. And the event went off without a glitch once again.

Susie Smith, who was the runner up from Survivor: Gabon, was extremely impressed. “I can’t say enough about this event put on by three great men — Mark Lynch, Kelly Jones and Matt (Keith) the firefighter! An amazing job by these guys and their wonderful volunteers aka Teresa, Jody, Dana and many more,” Susie said in an e-mail. “These Kentuckians put their hearts into gathering sponsorship from great businesses like The Galt House, Churchill Downs, Six Flags and fans who help to raise an enormous amount of funds to help children who need medical help. Kosair Charities covers expenses for these children.”

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Above image by Bret Sohl.

Smith then added the personal ways the event had touched her. “We met two beautiful kids — Candice and Brandon — who were helped by this organization. I feel honored to have been able to be a part of this fundraiser. I will come back if they ask me to. I am touched and feel proud to be involved with such a grand event. Kentucky is fortunate to have committed, loyal, trustworthy and caring citizens to give back and better childrens’ lives through this Kosair Charities. My heart is full and Louisville, Kentucky, welcomed not only me, but my entire family with open arms. Thank you Kentucky for allowing me be a part of your world.”

Eliza Orlins of Survivor: Vanuatu and Survivor: Micronesia said the Kentucky event is one of the best around. “It’s so amazing to get to be here and have all these people here for the kids. … It’s great that Survivor gave me a platform to do something where I have influence on good causes and bringing people together. It’s great.”

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Above image by Andy Johnson.

A Long Way To Travel — Especially By Bus

The event has such a solid reputation, that Billy Garcia of Survivor: Cook Islands made a very long trip to be a part of it. “My thing is, when I go to somewhere I’ve never been before, I’m not big on using airports ’cause going from my apartment (New York) to the airport then from the airport to the hotel, what do you really see? Nothing but the usual same-old, same-old. So I took a Greyhound bus that took me 24 hours to get down here. I got to see all these different places I haven’t gone before. They tend to stop for a half hour or sometimes even longer if I have to change buses, so I get to walk around and leave the station and actually see the locals and see what the neighborhood is like.”

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The main event was Saturday night in the Grand Ballroom of the gorgeous Galt House hotel. But in the few days leading up to that moment, the reality stars were taken on a cruise on the Ohio River, a special evening at Churchill Downs and an afternoon at Six Flags: Kentucky Kingdom. Garcia was impressed with all that was offered. “As for the activities, my goodness this is a great chance to be shoulder to shoulder and interact with your favorite reality stars from the biggest shows out there. … You get to interact, you get to play games with them, you get to be with them in a social setting and a competitive setting. Best of all, you get to party and live the life that we get to live now that we’ve been on the show.”

Charity Supporters

One of the guests in attendance has been going to the event for the last three years. “There is no other event like it,” Missy Steier said. “Louisville has the best Summer Bash Event and the Benefit is for the children. It is a personable event. You can have a conversation with them (reality stars). It’s not like most celebrity events — it’s the best around.”

She was especially happy to meet the most-recent Survivor winner — JT. She called him an inspiration and also said, “He’s hot, but I also like how he played the game.”

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Even though she said her friends think she is “nuts,” she was able to convince a few of them to stop out. “I told them this was a good event and something you don’t want to miss. … It definitely is worth the money.”

Some who showed up to support the charity weren’t big reality TV fans, but were there as fans of the cause. Melissa Milby was one of those people who had a personal experience with Kosair Children’s Hospital — they fixed an issue with her 4-year-old child’s heart. “Kosair Children’s Hospital here in Louisville is such a fabulous place,” Milby said. “Number one, they never turn anyone away if they can’t pay. So this charity finds people who can’t afford to pay. My husband and I are lucky. We have decent insurance, my husband has a very nice job. We can afford to pay the co-pay, but there are people out there that can’t. At Kosair Hospital especially, everybody was so fabulous. From the guy who cleans the floor, to the guy who brings the food to the kids, to the heart surgeon himself — everybody from the top down treated our child so good and were so good to us and so understanding. It’s the most fabulous place in the world.”

Milby was thrilled so many people were there for a charity she is very passionate about. “It’s just an incredible event. Everybody pulls together — the whole community, the firefighters, the policemen. Kosair is just so important to Louisville’s community.”

Survivor Winner Sums It Up

Bob Crowley, who won Survivor: Gabon, said the event was an honor to be a part of. “It’s sort of neat to be able to do this and know that we’re raising money for a good cause,” Crowley said. “We’ve met some wonderful people here in Kentucky. I’ve been saying, ‘You make me feel more at home than when I’m at home.’ They are just wonderful people down here and it’s been just a great experience.”

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All images by Ryan Haidet unless otherwise noted.

For more information, visit the event’s site at http://www.kpffb.org/.

Stay tuned to RealityTVMagazine.com for more exclusive coverage and interviews from the event.

In the coming days, look for a first-person account of what it was like participating in an Amazing Race style challenge at Six Flags: Kentucky Kingdom. RealityTVMagazine‘s Ryan Haidet was able to participate and run alongside popular Survivor and Amazing Race contestants.

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For other entertainment and celebrity news, check out our sister site SheKnows.com.

Topics: Amazing Race, American Idol, Cancelled Reality TV Shows, CBS Reality TV Shows, FOX Reality TV Shows, Pirate Master, Survivor |

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1 Comment »

One Response to “Kentucky Charity Event Brings Big Praise”

  1. Mr Terrific Says:
    July 3rd, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Great write-up Ryan!!! What a fantastic event!! It was nice to finally get to meet you.

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