Fans And Celebrities Bowling For Charity
By Christine Levitin-Breyette
The doors of the Chelsea Piers Lanes opened to a sea of exuberant soap opera fans that flooded the entrance on a recent Sunday ready to make their guilty pleasures a reality at the annual Daytime Stars and Strikes bowling event.
The event on Sunday, October 7, 2007, the grand finale to the annual Guiding Light fan weekend, brought together soap opera fans and soap opera actors for an afternoon of bowling, photographs, autographs, raffles, auctions, and of course lots and lots of fun. It’s not as self indulgent as it may sound, however, all of the funds raised during the event go to The American Cancer Society’s research and development fund.
Once all the fans were signed in and all the actors had been called down to the lanes the host and hostess, Jerry verDorn, who plays Clint on One Life To Live, and Elizabeth Keifer, who plays Blake on Guiding Light, emerged from the elevated lounge and descended the staircase to their adoring fans.
Liz Keifer, Wendy Madore and Jerry verDorn
“I love attending the Daytime Stars & Strikes bowling event because it's fun interacting with the actors and actresses on a personal level and…because all of the proceeds go to such a worthy cause,” said Lori Rubenacker, a dedicated soap opera fan. “Cancer affects everyone, whether directly or indirectly, so I can't think of a better charity to support.”
The idea for the bowling event came from Liz and Jerry’s fan club president, Wendy Madore. “It was at his (Jerry verDorn) 25th anniversary party and I asked her, (verDorn’s wife, Beth) “don’t you think Jerry and Liz need an event?” explained Madore regarding the conception of the event. “And she said absolutely” and I said, “Jerry don’t you think you need an event?” and you said, “ask these actors if they’d come” and we asked all the actors and then I wrote you and said, “was I dreaming or did you say yes?” and you said, yes, lets do it.“
Nicole Forester, Marcy Rylan, David Andrew MacDonald, Liz Keifer,
and Kurt McKinny
The event has evolved over the years, from the “The Bloss Bowling” event, which was a combination of the characters’ names Blake and Ross (played by verDorn when he was acting on Guiding Light), to being exclusively for Guiding Light fans and actors, to what it is now in it‘s fourth year, “The Daytime Stars And Strikes” bowling event that includes not only The Guiding Light, but All My Children, As The World Turns, and One Life to Live where verDorn is currently portraying Clint.
Although the event has changed over the years, the charity they donate to has remained the same. “I’m a 14 year survivor of cancer” verDorn disclosed, “so I decided, the research and development they have at the American Cancer Society is for the whole nation and it’s a general fund that you can contribute to so, everybody throughout the country can benefit from doing this event and having an auction, spending their money, and having it all go to the society.”
Each year the money raised has increased, from more than $5,000 the first year to more than $11,000 this year, through a combination of raffles for tote bags, coffee mugs, magazine, posters, buttons and T-shirts; and auctions for studio tours, and pictures in Soap Opera Weekly and Soap Opera Digest with several actors.
Soap fan, Lynn Rupley said, “I would spend hundreds of dollars on auctions, etc, because it goes for cancer…I clip coupons all year to save money for this trip.”
Kiefer and verDorn host the event each year, but they are supported by a lot of very loyal costars and friends. “For the Guiding Light actors this is the end of an extremely long weekend so these are really faithful ones that show up to this. Most of them blow it off saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve done three days already I’m not doing a fourth,’” said Kiefer. “And they are all at the cruise in the morning and then they come here.”
Kiefer, verDorn, and Madore are all supported by a volunteer team of about 20, known as “Jerry’s Elves.” “I couldn’t do this by myself. If they (the volunteers) weren’t here, there’s no way I could do this. They take care of me, and they are the nicest people and that makes me want to come back and do a better job next year,” Madore said.
Bowling volunteers with Madore and verDorn
Julie VanSteenburg, a committed soap opera fan, and first time volunteer said she comes to the event for the camaraderie of good friends, committed to a good cause. “I'm impressed not only with my friends level of commitment but the obvious care and concern that the cast members display by giving up their free time to give back to the fans and help out the ACS at the same time."