March 06, 2011 08:17 PM by Veronica Dudo
Secret Millionaire: premiered on ABC tonight. The new reality series will feature six of America’s most successful business people who will spend a week in the country’s poorest areas, ending their stay by giving members of the community hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money.In the premiere episode, successful entrepreneur Dani Johnson leaves her family and luxurious lifestyle behind to spend six days in one of the most impoverished areas of Knoxville, Tennessee. While there, she will live off of welfare level wages, volunteer her time and determine how much of her own money she is willing to gift the community heroes she meets. Dani herself is no stranger to struggling. She grew-up on welfare, was pregnant at 17 years old, homeless at 21 years old and a millionaire at 23 years old. Now, Dani is a multi-millionaire, entrepreneur, best-selling author, international speaker and the head of five companies.
During her life-changing mission, Dani will try to find deserving individuals who sacrifice everything for others. While on her amazing journey, the millionaire will meet extraordinary people who battle the odds. On her final day, Dani will reveal her true identity and present a gift to deserving individuals in the hopes of inspiring others.
Dani first arrives in Tennessee at her tiny one-bedroom apartment and scrubs it from top to bottom. She is given forty dollars to live off of for the week. Dani buys some food at a local grocery store and begins to inquire about places she can volunteer. She is directed to the Love Kitchen. Founded in 1986 by twins Ellen and Helen, the Love Kitchen serves meals to over 2,000 people each week.
Referring to Helen and Ellen, one of the volunteer’s, Ruth says to Dani, “All I can say is heaven’s missing some angels because we’ve got two of them right here.”
A majority of the meals from the Love Kitchen are delivered to home-bound individuals. All of the volunteers drop off the food in their own vehicles using their own gas money. Dani says she is very touched by all of the love in the community. She also see’s that the Love Kitchen is more than just a place to get food, it’s a place with a lot of love and people gathering as a family.
In her quest to find people working to make their communities better, Dani discovers a non-profit organization, called The Joy of Music which is a free school that offers music lessons to underprivileged children. Dani is given a tour of the facility and meets some of the school’s very gifted students who have bright futures. There to volunteer, Dani spends her time cleaning instruments.
The next day Dani meets the team from Special Spaces, a volunteer based organization that creates beautiful bedrooms for children in need. Dani spent some time helping the crew and is touched by their desire to help others. The room they will redo is for a young girl named Daisy who has leukemia. Dani meets Daisy and her family and helps the team transform Daisy’s room. When they’re finished and show Daisy her new room she smiles and is very excited.
Dani has found some extremely deserving people in the community and has to decide who she will gift money to and for what amount. It’s now time for Dani to reveal her true identity. She goes to The Joy of Music School and reveals that she is a millionaire and would like to make a donation. She gifts forty thousand dollars to the school. The teachers, volunteers, and students are in shock and extremely grateful to Dani.
As a mother herself and very touched by Daisy’s story, Dani decides to give the family ten thousand dollars. They are so surprised, they can’t find the words to express their thanks.
Next, Dani meets with the crew from Special Spaces and hands them a check for thirty thousand dollars. The organization was on the verge of closing and now can continue to transform many more rooms for children in need.
Finally, Dani returns to the Love Kitchen and presents Helen and Ellen with a check for twenty thousand dollars. They are overjoyed and tell Dani they will now be able to feed so many more people.
Dani’s time in Tennessee has come to an end but her experiences and the people she ‘s met has been life-changing. She hopes her journey will inspire others to do more for their community.
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Photo Credit: ABC