The Bold and The Beautiful's brash and earthy sea captain, Dominick Payne-Marone took a small hiatus Tuesday night February 28th. Instead of wowing audiences with his debonair good looks and charming ways on B&B, a very select group of children, and their parents, were treated to an extraordinary evening by the man better known as, TV and recording star, Jack Wagner.
Wagner was one of 15 daytime faves to play Wheel of Fortune's Soap Stars Week airing February 27th through March 3rd. Paired with a contestant, Wagner was playing for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The show was taped several weeks before and it turned out, Wagner and his partner won. He decided to host this very special viewing party and present his winnings in person to the charity of his choice.
Prior to this, Wagner wasn't familiar this particular charity. He's been involved on a donation basis to other cancer causes because he lost his father to lung cancer, but this is all new. 'It became leukemia through Wheel of Fortune.' Wagner's brother, Dennis, who suffers from leukemia and is in his third remission, flew out just in time for the big event, 'He's very camera shy. He doesn't like any of this stuff,' Wagner confessed. But he convinced his big brother to come out, put a face on the disease, and inspire people. 'He was on the next plane.'
Throughout the room, there was a real sense of anticipation. Everyone knew Wagner has won, but the exact sum was kept under tight wraps. Chances are most of the kids in attendance didn't even know Jack Wagner, but that wasn't very important to a group of children, all of whom look healthy, but many of them have been through rigorous treatments as a result of leukemia and lymphoma. Stuffing themselves on pizza and chicken, the kids were having a great time and waiting for two things --- the chance to watch Wheel of Fortune on a very large screen, and the introduction of a man who was about to give them a wonderful gift.
Lance Slaughter of the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society got things off to a rousing start, more like a cheerleader warming up the crowd for the big game. The night's designated emcee asked the group, 'Does anyone here, know Jack Wagner?' The room responded enthusiastically.
'I want to introduce our special guest. I want you to welcome him with a big thank you. So, how can we get you to say, 'Thank you, Jack, as loud as possible?' We're gonna practice it once, then we're gonna say it to welcome him, in, alright?'
'Say, thank you, Jack!'
It wasn't as loud as Slaughter hoped for, so he put the crowd through their paces two more times. The third time did it and on the count of three ' Moms, Dads, kids, everyone yelled at the top of their of their lungs, 'Thank you, Jack!' as B&B's dynamic leading man ran in, accompanied by his sons.
Wagner just hung out and posed for pictures with all of the children. A guy with a great sense of humor, Wagner, joked around with the clapping adults asking for more applause and, 'One more time, okay?' But he never once took the spotlight off the kids. They were the reason he was there, and all through the evening he worked to honor the children and their fight against leukemia. He turned the spotlight on a little girl with a breathing apparatus, 'What is your name?'
'How are you doing, okay?'
With his arms around Maria, Wagner brought Dennis into the mix and introduced him to the crowd, 'This is my brother. He survived leukemia three different times. Do you all know that? That's an amazing thing, so everybody should have inspiration from that, right Dennis?'
'So, this is all about you kids. We want you to grow up to be big adults, big, happy adults. A real positive attitude and we're gonna watch Wheel of Fortune, and we're gonna see all of the money we may win.' With that, Jack gave a very large wink and double thumbs up to a very appreciative audience, and said ' 'That'll be all kinds of good things for you guys, okay?'
Applause, lots of pictures, and a chant lead by Jack ' 'Wheel of Fortune' ' took the group straight into the show as it played on television. Everyone knew Jack and his teammate won, but still the question lingered ' how much? Bottom line, each celebrity was guaranteed a minimum of $10,000 just for playing. Wagner's competition were Soap Talk's hosts, Ty Treadway, playing for Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Lisa Rinna, who was playing for St. Jude Children's Hospital.
The room grew dark, the show started and every time Jack won, the cheers ratcheted up another decibel. In the end, Wagner's teammate won $142,550, which was matched by the show. The moment the lights came up, Wagner handed over an oversized check of $142,550 to the Leukemia/Lymphona Society.
After the big win, Wagner, surrounded by kids and balloons, held an oversized check for the nice tidy sum of $142,550. He looked around at all the beautiful little faces, 'And behind me right now we have children that have suffered, and who are currently suffering from leukemia'right here, we have a big gift for them.' Wagner handed over the money to lots of cheers and whistles.
Now free to talk about his experience, Wagner spent a few minutes with Soapdom, 'You know, I got lucky. I'm involved with as many things as I can in terms of my time. But this kind of came about in a weird way ' well, I don't really want to do a game show, but I gotta do it. I mean, why not? And, then it turned into this! So, that's God telling me something, maybe.'
Wagner reflected on children and the threat of a disease like cancer, 'When you're younger, you don't really know what illness is and all that big people stuff.' He hopes that events like this help his own children understand the depth and importance of finding a cure ' and most important giving back! 'Children are our main issue tonight. I want to bring Cookie up, who's going to have a bone marrow in two weeks.' Wagner gave a very embarrassed little girl a great big smooch on the cheek, wrapped his arms around her, and the room went crazy, 'Thank you, Wheel of Fortune!'
Soapdom got a moment with Wagner's brother, Dennis, for a little insight, 'He knows that I have leukemia, so he sought out the group that would be most connected to my disease. I'm really proud of him for doing this. It would have been great if he had won the minimum. I think it's an act of love that he even did the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society as his charity.'
By the end of the night Soapdom was hoping to get a scoop on Wagner's alter-ego, Nick. Never one to take himself seriously, Wagner gave us his broadest smile and dove right in, 'B&B, what are we doing now? Bridget tells Nick to go to Brooke and Brooke has always told Nick to with Bridget, so I know I'm gonna end up with somebody with a B ' on B&B!' Wagner was having fun ' and that's what the evening was all about!
For more information on The Leukemia/Lymphoma Society go to:
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