Reality stars meet fans to raise money for diabetes

Ryan Haidet

Previous contestants from reality shows gathered in Cincinnati last weekend for the sixth Reality 4 Diabetes event.

The event was started by Tasha Wilkie, a diabetic, to raise money for diabetes research and education.

Stars in attendance included nine from various seasons of “The Amazing Race,” six from various seasons of “Survivor,” two from “Big Brother 6,” several women from “Starting Over,” one from “Average Joe” and one from “The Mole.”

It began last Thursday at a Buffalo Wild Wings where they met with fans and watched the latest episode of “Survivor Panama: Exile Island.”

Friday evening, a live and silent auction was held at a Dave and Buster’s where Dennis Luciani, a contestant from the first season of “Average Joe,” played the role of a witty auctioneer.

“Friday was fun at Dave and Buster’s where I got to strut my auctioneering, dry-witted stuff on stage – my stage – as everyone quickly found out,” Luciani said. “There was some interesting stuff that was auctioned off from all the reality stars that ranged from clothes (worn on the shows) to actual props from everyone’s shows.”

Luciani also brought something to auction.

“I had an original script from Animal House signed by the writer and executive producer to auction off that was scooped up by the Bransen sisters (second place on the eighth season of “The Amazing Race”) for an early Father’s Day present to their dad; hopefully he isn’t reading this.”

Along with the auction, fans were able to eat dinner with the reality stars.

Many of the stars are proud to be a part of Reality 4 Diabetes.

“Reality 4 Diabetes is an amazing event, and I hope its creativity and energy encourages many other people out there to become involved and use your passions or hobbies to help those in need,” said Andrew Hyde, a contestant from “The Amazing Race 3.” “I think it’s way cool when we can use our past 15 minutes of fame for a good cause. Imagine a world where everyone did one small project like this in order to help out an agency or individuals who need some assistance.”

Hyde is the only reality star who has attended all six Reality 4 Diabetes events, all of which have been in Cincinnati.

“Life is but one big amazing race. Sometimes we all need a friend, a parent or a big brother to help out financially, physically or emotionally,” he said. “By helping others we can strengthen our neighbors and become true survivors. Reality 4 Diabetes is a step in this direction.”

On Saturday, the reality stars went to a Cincinnati Reds game with their fans and watched the Reds defeat the Houston Astros 6-3.

Here, Kate Pahls of the first season of “The Mole” raved about the event.

“It’s fabulous,” Pahls said. “It started out so small. It’s wonderful that there’s this much sponsorship. I hope it continues to grow.”

She came in fourth place on the first season of “The Mole” and said that people still approach her and say how much they enjoyed the program.

“It’s flattering that some people still remember the show,” she said.

Jerry Broach, the owner of a company called Reality Speaking, was an organizer of this event. He said he has an interest in helping reality stars make a difference with their newfound celebrity.

“I like to help out when I see something struggling to succeed, and I saw that in R4D last March and again in October, so I asked Tasha (Wilkie) if I could help,” Broach said. “I think any event that raises money for charity is worthwhile.”

But this event wouldn’t be anything without the fans in attendance. Fans such as Matt Tsang of Brooklyn, N.Y. He took a more than 15-hour trip to make sure he could attend this event.

“It’s one of the only ways I get to see my online buddies and also to see the reality folks,” Tsang said. “I love hanging out in the hotels and just going to the after parties.”

When all was said and done, not only did the Reds win, so did Reality 4 Diabetes as it raised thousands more dollars for diabetes research and education.

“R4D in Cincinnati had its share of money raised, events attended, little sleep, but always the ever eternal message that everyone can make a difference,” Luciani said. “Even an average Joe like me.”

Contact ALL correspondent Ryan Haidet at [email protected].