Evening with the Stars!

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Desi Geestman Foundation draws stars for a groovy night out

Cynthia Preston and Alicia Lee Willis (Faith and Courtney, GH)Soap Stars Join Together for a Good Cause!

On Sunday, September 14, 2003 at the Ivar in Hollywood, CA, stars from General Hospital, Days of our Lives, Young and the Restless and the Bold and the Beautiful came out to help support the Desi Geestman Foundation.  The fundraiser included silent auctions, autograph tables, and chances to get a professional photo taken with a favorite star. 

Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH)It was an evening event, and stars and guests were dressed to the nines.  Heather Tom (Victoria) wore a sexy black top with jeans, and still looked smashing.  I wasn’t sure if I was in Hollywood for this fundraiser, or at a gallery opening in NYC’s trendy SoHo district.  The ambience certainly could have passed for a NYC affair, and most in attendance wore the traditional “SoHo Black.” 

A red carpet hosted reporters and photographers and many stars took the walk. Not all, however.  We didn’t get to see a few big names until we got inside where we brushed by Winsor Harmon (Thorne, B&B), Ronn Moss (Ridge, B&B), Tyler Christopher (Nikolas, GH) and Tony Geary (Luke, GH).  This was the first time I stood next to Geary, and was surprised at how tall he is!  Talk about looking up to a soap legend! 

Heather Tom (Victoria, GH)The first General Hospital section was to the right of a cash bar as you first walked in.  The area was packed.  I am talking sardines, here.  In hindsight, promoters should probably have put all of GH more toward the back of the venue, as GH was the most represented at the event.  Stars attending included Tony Geary (Luke), event co-chairs, Cynthia Preston (Faith) and Alicia Lee Willis (Courtney); plus Maurice Benard (Sonny), Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth), Michael Saucedo (ex Juan), Andrew St John (Kyle), Leslie Charlsen (Monica), Tyler Christopher (Nikolas), Chad Brannon (Zander), Greg Vaughan (Lucky) and fan favorite, Vanessa Marcil (ex Brenda).   

Alicia Lee Willis (Courtney) and Cynthia Preston (Faith) hung out together.  Vanessa Marcil (ex Brenda) signed autographs on the red carpet on the way in.  Kirsten Storms and Alexis Thorpe (Belle and Cassie, DOOL), also stuck together most of the night.  Kristoff St. John (Neil, Y&R) was the proud papa, escorting his wife and new baby out for the evening. He was in charge of carrying the baby tote bag, too. So cute.  What a gorgeous family.

Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth, GH) and Michael Saucedo (ex Juan, GH)Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth, GH) and husband, Michael Saucedo (ex Juan, GH) arrived and dashed down the red carpet making a b-line straight for the entrance.  "We'll be back," Herbst promised.  Could it be that the newly expectant mom needed a potty stop first?  They soon returned as promised, and had to be by far, the cutest couple at the event. 

Leslie Charleson (Monica, GH)




Leslie Charleson (Monica, GH) looked spectacular. We've never seen her more radiant.  She wore a retro "sixties hippie" black dress and sported a hair style reminiscent of Farah Faucet in the original Charlie's Angels TV show.

The St. JohnsOther GH stars such as Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), Andrea Pearson (Gia), J. Robin Miller (Lydia), Ron Hale (Mike), Derk Cheetwood (Max), (John Ingle, Edward), Ted King (Alcazar), Brittney Powell (ex Summer), Natalie Livingston (Emily), Blake Gibbons (Coleman) and Sarah Brown (ex Carly) had confirmed attendance, but I didn’t see them in the crowd and must have missed them on the red carpet if they indeed attended.

A few other LA-based shows were represented by a couple of actors each.  From B&B we saw Ronn Moss (Ridge), Winsor Harmon (Thorne), Jennifer Finnegan (Bridget) and Sean Kanan (Deacon).  From Days of our Lives, Kirsten Storms (Belle) and Alexis Thorpe (Cassie) popped in.  The Young and the Restless contingent included Kristoff St. John (Neil) and Heather Tom (Victoria). 

Vanessa Marcil (ex Brenda)But how did the event come together in the first place?  It was the brain child of GH’s Cynthia Preston (Faith) and Alicia Lee Willis (Courtney) who were sitting around the make up room one day and bandied about the idea of doing something worthwhile for the community with their “soap star power.” 

At the same time, Maher Kawar, a close friend of Cynthia (“I’ve known Cynthia for 8 years. I am best friends with her husband, Kyle, and was Best Man at their wedding,” revealed Kawar.  “When Cynthia first came from Canada 8 years ago, she lived with us for a while.  She is a wonderful and sweet person.”) was taking a course that required he take on a community project.  “I called and asked around everyone I knew if there was anything I could do to help them out,” he said.  Eventually, this led him to the Desi Geestman Foundation. 

Chad Brannon (Zander, GH)“At first, I wanted to mount a program to visit sick children in the hospital, but was told that would be met with too many obstacles. So, I asked the Desi Geestman Foundation what they needed and they said ‘Money!’” 

Although doing a fundraiser was the last thing Kawar wanted to do, he was able to pull together a core group of talented people to help get this off the ground.  “We met weekly and exchanged ideas,” Kawar said.  “Jeff Parks did publicity.  Sean Kanan (Deacon, B&B)We got over $300,000 in TV time for free to promote the event.  Cynthia and Alicia got 25 stars from General Hospital to attend. Once we got the GH ball rolling, we were contacted by other PR people and agents wanting their stars to attend.”  At one point, Kawar had to say no as they were getting too many stars for the size of the venue.

Greg Vaughan (Lucky, GH)“Margo Ramero produced the night of the event, including gift bags and the flow of the evening. Heather Napolitano also helped that night.”  Kawar, along with Cynthia Preston and Alicia Lee Willis, are grateful to everyone who contributed to make the event happen, and to all the fans who attended who helped raise $25,000 for the Desi Geestman Foundation.  “This first year was so successful,” Kawar said, “we plan to make it an annual event.”

The Desi Geestman Foundation was founded to honor the memory of young Desi Geestman, a young girl with a huge spirit who succumbed to cancer before her time.  It serves to raise money and awareness in regard to fighting pediatric cancer, and is affiliated with the City of Hope in Los Angeles. For more on the Desi Geestman Foundation, click here.

All Photos (c) Linda Marshall-Smith for Soapdom, Inc.

Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH)

Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH)

Chad Brannon (Zander, GH)

Leslie Charleson (Monica, GH)

Leslie Charleson (Monica, GH)

Alicia Lee Willis (Courtney, GH)

Heather Tom (Victoria, Y&R)

Heather Tom (Victoria, Y&R)

Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) and Michael Saucedo (ex Juan) of GH

Vanessa Marcil (ex Brenda, GH)

Alexis Thorpe (Cassie, DOOL) and Kirsten Storms (Belle, DOOL)

Alexis Thorpe (Cassie, DOOL) and Kirsten Storms (Belle, DOOL)

Greg Vaughan (Lucky, GH)

Cynthia Preston (Faith, GH)