Why Are 100 Reality Stars Heading to Orlando This Week?
It happens every August.
In one of the largest annual gatherings of reality stars, alumni of Survivor, , Big Brother and other shows head to Florida to participate in Hearts of Reality. During the three-day event, the reality stars raise funds for Give Kids the World, a children’s charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.
The weekend has become one of the most sought-after events for reality stars, including several who do no other charity events.
“As a dad, it’s really important to me to come to this event,” Survivor winner Rob Mariano tells PEOPLE. “Give Kids the World is a refuge for families who are going through the worst thing imaginable: having a sick child.”
“This is a way for us all to get together and have fun, but also to raise a lot of money for a very worthy cause,” he says. “I try to make it a priority.”
A Busy Weekend
It’ll be a busy three days for the stars. On Thursday, Aug. 11, they’ll attend a kickoff VIP party – sponsored by PEOPLE – where they’ll mingle with guests and sponsors.
On Friday, they’ll go to Give Kids the World, where they’ll have a “Pirates and Princesses Party,” at Give Kids the World, where they’ll meet the children and their families. (Last year, former Bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis went all out, dressing in full pirate swag.)
Keeping with the pirate theme, the stars will head to Pirates Dinner Adventure, where they’ll watch a show with fans and other members of the public.
On Saturday, they’ll have an autograph signing in Celebration, Florida. (Last year, hundreds of people waited in line to meet their favorite reality stars.) The weekend is capped off by an ’80s-themed party that night.
A Greater Purpose
Going into its 6th year, Hearts of Reality continues to top itself in charitable giving. Last year, the event raised more than $160,000 that went directly to Give Kids the World. (In contrast, the event raised $40,000 in 2012, when the above video was made.)
“These reality stars are not only able to bring an incredible amount of awareness to the organization, but also raise a considerable amount of money,” organizer Mike Nunez tells PEOPLE. “Even more families with children facing life threatening illnesses will get to experience all that Give Kids The World has to offer.”
“This is the only charity event I do,” adds three-time Big Brother contestant Janelle Pierzina. “Sure, we have a lot of fun seeing people and catching up, but at the end of the day, we know that it’s about more than that. This really is to help sick kids.”