Friday, September 4, 2015

“It’s A Jungle Out There” Benefit Gave Fans a Chance to Meet and Compete Alongside Former Survivor Players and Reality Stars

Stars of competition and reality TV gathered on August 29 for the first annual It's A Jungle Out There benefit.  (back row) Carolyn “Mama C” Rivera, Tyler Fredrickson, Max Dawson, Jake Pavelka, Cory Shivar, Uchenna Agu, Alex Stein, Keith Nale, Joe Anglim, Mike Holloay, April Lewis (front row) Jenn Brown, Kelly Shinn, Missy Payne, Baylor Wilson, Sierra Dawn Thomas, Brandy Goddard, Natalie Anderson, Jodi Wincheski

Missy Payne, Cynthia Smoot. Thanks to Level 3 Active 
for providing me the perfect dress to wear to this event!
Highland Park native, Missy Payne, star of Survivor San Juan del Sur/Season 29, hosted the inaugural “It’s A Jungle Out There” benefit on Saturday, August 29 at Lofty Spaces. The evening began with a VIP/Sponsor reception with all of the celebrities and lots of creepy crawly things and furry animals brought in by CritterMan.

Everyone then moved into the main space for dinner, several rowdy performances from talented teens from area Performing Arts High Schools, competitive club cheerleading and dance programs, and acrobatic troupes and finally a live auction. Among the items up for grabs were tickets to attend the live finale where the next winner of Survivor, Season 31 will be named.

This event was a competition/reality TV fan's fantasy come true with players from Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Dancing With The Stars, and more in attendance. Following the dinner and main stage entertainment, the party moved outside where celebrities competed in challenges (similar to the challenges seen on Survivor) while party patrons place bets on teams to win. Guests had a chance to buy into these challenges and compete alongside the celebrities. Those who thought this was light-hearted fun were in for a surprise. These celebs meant business. When bragging rights are on the line, competition and reality TV stars stop up! Participating in the challenges were:

  • Uchenna Agu (The Amazing Race, Season 23)
  • Natalie Anderson (Survivor, Season 29 WINNER)
  • Joe Anglim (Survivor, Season 30 and 31) 
  • Jenn Brown (Survivor, Season 30) 
  • Max Dawson (Survivor, Season 30) 
  • Tyler Fredrickson (Survivor, Season 30) 
  • Brandy Goddard (American Ninja)
  • Mike Holloway (Survivor, Season 30 WINNER) 
  • April Lewis (Big Brother, Season 6) 
  • Keith Nale (Survivor, Season 29 and 31) 
  • Jake Pavelka (The Bachelor and Dancing With The Stars) 
  • Missy Payne (Survivor, Season 29) 
  • Carolyn “Mama C” Rivera (Survivor, Season 30)
  • Kelly Shinn (Survivor, Season 21) 
  • Cory Shivar (The Bachelorette, Season 11) 
  • Alex Stein (Glass House and Worst Chefs) 
  • Sierra Dawn Thomas (Survivor, Season 30) 
  • Baylor Wilson (Survivor Season 29) 
  • Jodi Wincheski (Amazing Race, Season 14)

Jodi Wincheski from the Amazing Race was the last woman standing and was named the night's Ultimate Survivor. The whole shebang ended with a concert from rising Nashville star, Baylor Wilson (who also happens to be Missy’s daughter and fellow Survivor contestant). ​So, why was all of this happening? Missy Payne said, I may not have won the million bucks, but I intend to raise it to help kids." Her charity, Cheer 4 Your Life, helps empower youth by providing supportive funding as needed for individual participation in various clubs and school programs including but not limited to athletic programs, performance based programs and service projects. The purpose of C4YL is to provide opportunities for youth to participate in a variety of athletic, performance and service based programs by offering financial assistance to those in need. She believes that being a part of programs of this nature are hugely rewarding and will empower, inspire and motivate our youth by giving them a chance to defy their own limits. The positive list of life experiences that are afforded these youth is lengthy. For more info, visit

Scenes from the event provided by Thomas Garza Photography:

Jake Pavelka, Keith Nale, Uchenna Agu, Alex Stein
(back row) Mike Holloway, Max Dawson, Tyler Fredrickson, Sierra Dawn Thomas, Joe Anglim
(front) Carolyn “Mama C” Rivera, Natalie Anderson, Jenn Brown
OSC's Cynthia Smoot with a python provided by CritterMan
Layne Pitzer, Gavin Pitzer, Missy Payne, Mike Holloway, Michaela Dyer, Trey Dyer
Dancers from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Dancers from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Lake Highlands High School Wranglers (Captains & Seniors)
Players compete in Survivor-themed challenges
Carolyn “Mama C” Rivera competes in a Survivor-themed puzzle challenge
Guest player, Jodi Wincheski and Keith Nale compete in the final challenge. The Amazing Race's Jodi Wincheski came out on top as the night’s Ultimate Survivor