Reality stars kicking in for charity weekend here
TV celebs to join forces with soccer legends in local event.
By Dom Yanchunas
Lancaster New Era
Published: Aug 05, 2005 1:53 PM EST
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - It’s not exactly eating beetles, getting the once-over from Donald Trump or courting a lifelong mate in front of a national television audience.
Still, Lancaster County soon will be the capital of the reality television world for one weekend.
Former “Survivor” winner Ethan Zohn is recruiting an all-star lineup of title holders from “The Bachelor,” “Fear Factor,” “The Amazing Race” and other reality hits for a charity event Nov. 4-5.
It’s the second year that Zohn’s Grassroot Soccer organization will hold the celebrity soccer exhibitions — also featuring some of the best-known U.S. soccer legends — at Lanco Fieldhouse. Grassroot Soccer raises money for AIDS education in Africa.
The inaugural event in 2004 relied mainly on “Survivor” alumni and a few big-name soccer players. This year, “Ethan Zohn’s Reality All-Star Soccer Fest” is transforming the charity weekend into a who’s-who from the A-list of all of reality television.
Trista Rehn from “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” is scheduled to be there. So is “Apprentice” winner Bill Rancic.
Fans can meet “Amazing Race” winner Reichen Lehmkuhl, who also appeared on “Fear Factor” and “Kill Reality.” “Survivor All-Stars” champion Amber Brkich is coming too.
At least 10 reality stars are confirmed for Zohn’s fest. He’s not sure about a few others but expects that more will accept the invitation in the next few weeks.
“It’ll be the largest collection of reality winners in one place ever, I can promise you that,” Zohn said in an interview this week.
Returning for a second year will be original “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch; Jenna Morasca from “Survivor Amazon,” “Fear Factor” and “Kill Reality,” and “Boston Rob” Mariano from “Survivor: Marquesas” and “Amazing Race.”
Recent “Survivor: Palau” winner Tom Westman and “Survivor All Star” Lex van den Berghe are first-time participants. They’ll be joined by fellow “Survivors,” including Tina Wesson, who won the Australia version, and “Big Tom” Buchanan.
Soccer figures likely coming to Zohn’s event include U.S. men’s national team veterans Alexi Lalas and Eric Wynalda, Lorrie Fair of the women’s national team, Major League Soccer’s Raul Diaz Arce and indoor legend Mike Stankovic.
Terry Phelan, a long-time defender in England’s Premier League and for Ireland’s World Cup team who now lives in Manheim Township, also will appear.
The first of two indoor soccer matches — reality stars vs. soccer stars — is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, at Lanco Fieldhouse. A second match begins at 9 p.m. Afterward, there’s a party at The Brickyard sports pub.
On Saturday, Nov. 5, a charity dinner and silent auction will be held at Hamilton Ballroom. The exact time will be announced later.
The auction will include autographed jerseys and other memorabilia donated by various stars from U.S. soccer and other sports teams, items from the reality shows and tickets to pro soccer games, the “Live with Regis and Kelly” show and tourist attractions in Florida and Maine.
Also new this year will be a raffle on Friday night for fans who want to sit on the players’ benches with the reality stars or soccer pros.
Zohn, himself a former professional soccer player, chose Lancaster County as the site of his charity event last year because of his friendship with Todd Hoffard, a New Holland native who is national director of ONEonONE Soccer.
Hoffard, who played both outdoor and indoor soccer professionally, said he and Zohn were thrilled when the 2004 fest raised about $50,000 for Zohn’s AIDS-education effort.
“It’s going to be a lot better this year, because we’re going to have more big-name soccer people, and we’re going to have people from all of reality TV and not just Survivor,” said Hoffard, who now lives in East Hempfield Township.
“If we had a couple more sponsors, we’d be loving life,” Hoffard said.
Zohn, a native of Massachusetts, was the winner of “Survivor: Africa.” He once had played pro soccer in Zimbabwe. Currently, he’s a star of the E! Entertainment Network’s “Kill Reality.”
“Survivor” fans may remember that Zohn chose a Hacky Sack as his only luxury item he could take on his adventure. While visiting a group of children at a hospital in Kenya, he began kicking around the Hacky Sack with them. The kids had a lot of fun, but Zohn said he was saddened to learn later that they were all HIV-positive.
After winning that “Survivor,” Zohn decided to use his $1 million prize to help launch Grassroot Soccer.
While the charity soccer event debuted in Lancaster County last year, 2005 has become a year of increased global efforts to assist Africa with problems including government debt, chronic poverty and the AIDS epidemic. Recent economic forums are resulting in more financial aid to Africa from wealthy nations and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Zohn, 31, said the Live8 concerts promoted awareness among young people. He hopes to channel that into resources to reach the hearts and minds of African youth.
“It opened people’s eyes to what’s happening in a place that people forget about and tend to brush off,” Zohn said.
“It all works together perfectly,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is to change behavior. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. It’s our job to get them the (accurate) information, and then it’s up to them to lead a healthy lifestyle.”
The non-profit Grassroot Soccer teaches Africa’s pro soccer players how to teach children about preventing HIV and AIDS. The programs target ages 11 to 14.
“Learning from your heroes increases your information retention,” Zohn said. “And these soccer players in Africa are the heroes in their community.”
Grassroot Soccer soon will begin pilot programs in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Zohn also is involved in an education initiative for U.S. youth called “Kick AIDS.”
Zohn said Brandi Chastain, famous for bearing her sports bra after scoring the deciding goal in the 1999 Women’s World Cup final, has promised to attend the Lancaster event if she isn’t assigned to ABC’s television coverage of MLS Cup, which is the same weekend.
Tickets for Zohn’s “Soccer Fest” go on sale Sept. 19. They will be $12 each, with children 5 and under getting in free. For ticket or sponsorship information, call Hoffard at 898-3900. http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/16168