America’s Walk for Diabetes started at Akron General Medical Center Oct. 2. Participants, including reality television stars, college students, children and other sponsors of all ages walk, run or ride to support those diagnosed with diabetes.
Credit: Jason Hall
CINCINNATI – More than 20 reality stars from various television series attended Reality 4 Diabetes this weekend to raise money for diabetes research and education.
Events included a 5K walk, a roller coaster ride at Paramount’s Kings Island, an autograph signing at a Pizza Tower restaurant and a viewing party of the latest episode of “Survivor: Guatemala.”
Tasha Wilkie, organizer of all the Reality 4 Diabetes events, has a special reason for starting this charity – she has diabetes herself.
“I almost died when I was diagnosed with diabetes in September of 1998,” Wilkie said.
Wilkie said funds are needed to educate the public about diabetes.
More than $98,000 was raised from the 5K that took place Saturday morning.
Reality stars attending the event were from various seasons of “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race,” “Starting Over,” “Average Joe,” “The Real World” and “Joe Millionaire.”
The reality stars had various reasons for attending this event.
“It is nice to use what little celebrity I have to try to make a difference,” said Dennis Luciani, a contestant from the first season of “Average Joe.” “It feels good to be able to do something to help.”
Luciani said there are many different things college students can do to help out.
“Find out what is happening in your home town,” he said. “If you’re creative enough you could start your own charity.”
Luciani said he believes Reality 4 Diabetes hasn’t changed him – it’s enriched him.
Luciani isn’t the only person who said this charity is important.
When riding roller coasters with fans and other reality stars at Paramount’s Kings Island on Saturday, Coby Archa, a contestant from “Survivor: Palau,” got attention from many other people in the park. This gained publicity for the event and awareness of its cause.
“I think that I’ve been given a really extraordinary gift to be in a position where people care about seeing me,” Archa said. “I think it would be ridiculous for me not to show up to the event. As long as I’m able to help, I’m going to do it.”
He raised $100 for the event through donations. Reality 4 Diabetes is unique to him for one reason – the event is intimate.
“Usually events are so big, but here I’ve been able to talk to more of the fans and other reality stars,” Archa said. “I feel like I’m hanging out with friends here.”
After being a part of a reality show, he said that he has learned some important things about life.
“Being on a reality show has helped me realize how lucky I am in just a small way,” Archa said. “I mean, I’m no Julia Roberts, but my life is very blessed.”
Along with the reality stars, Reality 4 Diabetes wouldn’t be possible without the sponsors.
One sponsor for Reality 4 Diabetes became involved in the event because he is a fan of the show “Survivor.”
“I had gone to an event in Lincoln, Neb. and I really liked it,” Michael Allbright, a Reality 4 Diabetes sponsor said. “I was on (the survivor Web site) and I had seen something about Reality 4 Diabetes in Cincinnati.”
It is because of this he became involved with the charity and has attended all five Reality 4 Diabetes events.
“I wanted to be a small-scale sponsor,” Allbright said.
As a sponsor, Allbright helps transporting the reality stars from airports and their hotel and other places throughout the event.
Allbright said he would help a charity for any cause.
“If the event wasn’t for diabetes but for something else, I would probably still be here,” he said.
He also said college students should get involved in charities like this because most people will find either a family member or a friend is affected by diabetes.
“Anyone can make a difference, so that’s the big thing,” he said. “Just because you’re one student at Kent State doesn’t mean that you can’t make change throughout the state, country or the world.”
Reality show fans can expect the next Reality 4 Diabetes event to take place around March 2006. For more information, visit the Web site at www.reality4diabetes.com.
Contact health reporter Ryan Haidet at [email protected]