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On a breezy Friday afternoon, over 100 Reality Television stars appeared at Temecula’s Michelle’s Place – Breast Cancer Resource Center – to officially launch the 4th annual Reality Rally games in Temecula.
Reality Rally stars, many returning for second, third, even fourth times to participate in April’s annual Amazing Race style event, but many new faces dusted the crowd.
“We start here,” stated Gillian Larson, the founder of the games, “because Michelle’s Place is what this weekend is all about. Otherwise, it’s just a three day party.”
Reality Stars, from the obscure to the A-List, filled the room, snapped photos with each other, and prepared to learn the meaning behind it all–especially the Reality Rally “Freshman Class.”
Survivor’s Richard Hatch spoke up for the room, “It’s us who thank you, Gillian, for what you’ve built here. And reminding everyone why we are really doing this.”
Survivor Blood and Water newcomer, Katie Collins, has enjoyed every minute since her arrival. “It’s an amazing group of people who’ve assembled here, and a beautiful location. My mother (Tina Wesson) and I are thrilled to be part of this weekend.”
Michelle’s family, parents Bill and Marilyn Watson and brother Wayne, stood to thank the group of participants for coming to support Michelle’s dream.
After viewing the video about their journey, this group of larger than life stars suddenly embraced their larger purpose. Fundraising isn’t merely an entry to one of the most talked about events for Reality Rally. The cost of entry pays for a mammogram for an under-insured woman. It buys a wig. It can potentially save a life.
“Whenever we’ve had struggles, there is always something that comes through. I believe it’s Michelle’s spirit, helping other people. It’s why you are here.” Stated Wayne Watson.
Michelle’s Place typically provides about 750 services for Temecula area women each month. “The growth is actually scary,” stated Kim Goodnough, Executive Director of Michelle’s Place.”We’re on the ground, fighting cancer. We are a small family of soldiers in the trenches, working, every day.”
Inspired by the films, Survivor’s John Carroll stepped up to share about his own mother’s recent diagnosis of breast cancer. Carroll relayed that his sister, who received a 3D imaging rather than mammogram, was never told her why. “Apparently, she had dense breast tissue and proper screening requires 3D imaging or ultrasound,” stated Carroll. As for his sister, “Her screening is negative as of now. It’s important for all women to know if they have dense breasts. This is often overlooked, we’ve discovered, with mammograms. Please remember to find out, and if so, have ultrasounds or 3D imaging instead of mammograms. You are your own best advocate.”
Gillian Larson, who was second voted out of her season of Survivor – Gibbon, is the heart behind Temecula’s Reality Rally but Michelle Watson — for whom Michelle’s Place was founded — is the soul. “Each contestant raises $400 toward their team, but some have gone above and beyond, challenging themselves toward meeting or beating previous years’ fundraising goals.” Larson stated.
Big Brother Canada’s Liza Stinton blew the roof off of fundraising for Reality Rally 4, raising upwards of $13-thousand for the cause. When asked how she did it, Stinton replied, “I just asked. And kept asking. My fans really stepped up.”
Also congratulated, was the Three Amigos team, who won a “U-Turn” for their Reality Rally Race team, by raising over $4-thousand for their entry.
Larson introduced her team of volunteers, who have met twice a week for a year to make the three day event happen. “These are the people who keep things running, who can answer all questions, and take care of the minute details.” Larson said.
“Michelle’s place makes an impact in saving women’s lives.” Stated Michelle’s Place Executive Director, Kim Goodnough, We are helping women with breast cancer with understanding their rights, teaching them where to go, our lending library has volumes of information about breast cancer, we aid with mammograms, with insurance questions, wigs and prosthetic devices. We are here to greet with a hug, to understand, to know. Which is what Michelle wanted.”