And the Fans Went Wild!
When Soapdom CEO and QueenRuler, Linda Marshall-Smith, asked me to give you guys the scoop about Greg Vaughan's first FCW event I was all for it, but once I started typing this out I realized I have a really hard time just being "brief" when it comes to this guy. But I will try to contain myself!
Before the event began I was standing in line waiting patiently with other Greg Vaughan fans. I saw several faces I recognized from pictures online and I was able to make some new friends while we waited. We were all eagerly anticipating Greg's first Fan Club Weekend event. I have to tell you the excitement was high in the line and it just increased as we went into the meeting room to hang out with the man who plays Lucky Spencer, son of GH's most infamous couple. 18 tables were already set up, but so many fans were waiting that another table was added as the fans found their places. There were about 180 people in attendance for this first ever event.
Greg came in after being introduced by fan club president Debby O'Connor. He was fit and tan and looking more handsome than I have ever seen him before. He bounded up to the stage area and took the mic. He was sitting on the edge of the stage at first but we convinced him to take a seat on the stage on a stool so we could all see him. He was happy to oblige.
Someone commented about how great he looked and Greg cracked that he was going to be giving Tyler some competition. Tyler's cousin, Drew (brother to Derk Cheetwood who plays Max the body guard) is Greg's personal trainer. Greg has clocked more than 80 hours in the gym since the beginning of the year. He has been working hard to get into shape. And believe me it SHOWS! He looked great. An audience member asked how he got to be so handsome. He replied that he had a beautiful mom. The statement was a simple one but spoken with much pride in his voice.
Greg, at left with me, was pleased that Mark Melamed, founder of the Gabriel Project was with us at the event and invited Mark to share some info about the charity with the crowd. For those who didn't know who Mark was this was a great time to introduce them to the Project. And for those who were familiar with the group, it was wonderful to finally be able to meet the man in person. Mark is a 6th grade teacher from NJ who founded the Gabriel Project to assist children with heart defects in the African Country of Tanzania. The goal was to bring the child to the states and help them get needed life saving heart surgeries. The Deborah Hospital in NJ provides the actual medical care, but TGP brings the child and a parent to the states and helps with all the needed arrangements. In the 13 years that Mark's students have been working on this project they have raised more than $300,000. Yes, these are 6th graders. They have helped 12 children so far and have the 13th waiting in the wings. A 2 year old girl who's name means "Baby Rain." She will be coming to the US very soon to receive the medical treatment that she needs to save her life.
Mark talked a bit about Greg's involvement in the project and brought some gifts as a token to thank him for working with them. Mark also invited Greg to go with him to Africa in the near future to meet the children that were being helped by TGP. Greg was moved by the gifts and said that he would love to accompany Mark to Africa. Mark had been given a phone by the Samsung company that would help him keep in contact with the families and agencies in Tanzania. He was having difficulty using it though, so Greg was happy to show him how it worked. Greg later thanked the fans for helping with the Project and informed us that Mark has donated portions of his own salary to do this work. The support of Greg fans was greatly appreciated. It was easy to be proud of participating in something so unique and rewarding.
After hearing from Mark it was easy to see how much Greg loves kids and giving back. It was further evidenced when Greg began to talk about other charity projects that he was planning to become involved with. While he may not like the "corporate" feeling of some charities, he was going to become involved with the Walk for Autism. While talking about this particular charity, Greg's voice broke as he explained that he had a dear friend who's son was recently diagnosed with autism. He stated that it will change you when you see a child experience illness. He plans to begin researching to bring awareness to this disease.
One last project or goal that Greg has planned for the year ahead is to help co-worker Tyler Christopher in donating to an Indian Center in Wichita KS. The center is about to be removed because of lack of funding. They will be working with Tyler's "native mother" to coordinate the project.
As the conversation turned to GH, Greg, shown at right with the momento book we created for him, expressed his thanks for the support from the fans. He is excited about the current story line and was ready to show the writers and producers what he is capable of. "I am here to work, and so now I am going to show them what they are paying for." He has been excited by the show of fan support in mail and calls. There have been times when he received so much mail that he thought he had made a wrong turn and gone into Rick Hearst's room by mistake. But, nope he was right at home, and the pile of notes and letters were just for him. He said it was overwhelming and he was extremely grateful for the show of support and encouragement. He is pretty excited about the story line ahead. He wants to give the producers their moneys worth, so shooting for the Emmy this year is his goal. (When Rick Hearst came in to the event later on, he said that Greg has been doing such an amazing job in the recently taped scenes that the crew members were coming out of the booth to watch him in action. Rick agreed that this is Greg's year to shine. The Emmy Nomination could very well be his this time around.) Greg talked about how it was a difficult task to follow in the shoes of two actors in the role of Lucky, both of whom had won Emmys. But he spoke highly of both Jonathon (Jackson) and Jacob (Young, now JR, AMC) who set the bar high for him in this role.
The current story line is one that brings a personal note to Greg. He said that he understands what Lucky is experiencing. He had grown up in a small town in Texas, raised by a single mom. He and his brother shared a room in their two- bedroom "trailer home.” "I remember what it means to be broke. I know what the value of money is. Our roots were without money." Greg also related a story about having been in LA for about a year. It was a few months after the show "Malibu Shores" had been cancelled. He was down to his last $88. In fact, he said he had $88.73 left in his checking account, and he didn't know what he was going to do. So he did what most of us do when things feel desperate. He prayed. He told God that if he was supposed to be there, then he was going to need some help. Within two weeks his prayers were answered in the form of an unexpected residual check in the amount of $5,000. I would say that he was supposed to be there.
Greg stated that he had left home at the age of 17 and had lived in five different countries. He returned to the states at 21 and pursued his dream of acting in the LA area. He is very happy working at GH and has the highest respect for his co-workers. When asked about Danielle (Raab, Greg’s fiancée and co-owner of the Weigh to Live Low Carb Market in Studio City, CA in which they share a financial interest), he said that she was beautiful and life was happy. He had accomplished so many of his dreams that Greg stated: "I am the luckiest guy in the world."
As Greg made the rounds talking with each fan, Rick Hearst (Ric, GH) and Cynthia Preston (ex Faith, GH) came by to visit. They were adorable and were having fun mingling with the fans. Greg was passing out bear hugs, signing autographs and chatting with fans but time was getting away from us. The next event was coming up soon so the room had to be emptied. We moved the party outside so that the remaining fans could have a few minutes with Greg. I was one of those fans who stayed until the very end. It was very hot outside, but it didn't matter. I would have to say I felt like the lucky one. Greg is such a great guy. It was an honor to spend this day with him!
Thanks for letting me share just a little of this event with you!
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