There are no words to describe the excitement when I received the phone call on Friday, June 24th from none other than the incomparable and indispensible Melissa who told me that my hero story had been chosen and I won tickets to the Sunday, June 26th 8pm show at Uncle Vinnie’s in Point Pleasant, NJ. The only thing I could think of at the time was to quote a very astute individual in her own right from the S&B Forum EEEEEEEEEEEEE. I was asked if I would share my story.
Edited to add the contest entry letter:
As a child we are all given the impression that heroes were someone like Superman, or an action figure who took on great battles and always won. My hero was always my sister Joanne. She was the one who when our mother died at an early age, made certain that we smiled every day. Just her presence would light up a room. Then six years later, when our father died, it was she who was there for every function, heartbreak, shortage of change, whatever. Nothing was too hard or impossible for her to make better. She gave her all, each and every time. Later when I had my children, they learned for themselves what a hero was to them and again that was their Aunt Jo. Aunt Jo was fun, beautiful, and the world to them as well. She also took on her own battle… with Cancer. Unfortunately that was our hero’s kryptonite. She battled long and hard, but…as we say, we may have lost our hero, but, God and the Heavens gained a new Angel who still is watching over us and to this day still makes certain that we start our day with a smile.
Adding in Maurice & Paula’s reply:
Hello,I’m sorry that you lost both your parents at a young age but, God blessed you with a hero like your sister. We picked your letter as a winner for 2 VIP tickets to one of the NJ shows. If you could let me know which show and what time you would like, as soon as I hear from all 3 winners, I will let you know which one will be yours. Thanks for sharing your story.Sincerely,Paula & Maurice Benard
Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to meet Maurice Benard, well I almost didn’t. I never win anything, ever. Please go ahead ask the person behind the Lottery counter at my local newsstand, he’ll vouch for that. However, this “contest” was one that was near and dear to my heart; it involved an essay regarding your Hero. That was a no brainer for me. I easily wrote about my sister Joanne who had a significant impact on my life growing up and who was an amazing person and warrior in her own right in life, love and eventually her battle with cancer. She was and always will be my heart, my strength, and my light and I know she is still watching over me bringing me smiles. There were so many people who entered this contest and who have that special someone in their life; therefore, I am extremely honored for Joanne’s story to have been chosen.
After Sunday evening, my first thought was to hurry up and write everything down before I forgot about the details, but, the selfish person that I am wanted to hold on to it for a little while longer and savor every moment. This journey began as it has for many other S&B fans. From the first touch of their hands Sonny and Brenda have been Cosmic and I was hooked like a Marlin on the end of a fishing line. No matter how I fought they continued to reel me in with every look, every caress, every kiss, until I couldn’t fight it any longer. I was a goner. We are all well aware of the beauty and pain of this relationship so bringing it up now would only be redundant. Let’s fast forward to the present.
My neighbor and friend Tara was my “other” that evening. She admittedly is not a Soaper nor a GH fan. Little did she know that for the whole two hours of our commute to Uncle Vinnie’s in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, I would do nothing but talk about Sonny and Brenda, Maurice and Vanessa, trying to give her a recap from the beginning, middle, and my opinion of what may be the end. She was a real trooper through it all and listened intently the whole way there with only the occasional interruptions coming from my GPS that I fondly call, Gloria. (Don’t ask, and don’t judge.) Finally, we arrived at our destination, according to Gloria, and the third time around the block I decided to ask a very nice woman on a bicycle where Uncle Vinnie’s was and found that it was right across the street. Once again Gloria was right. My bad.
I brought a bouquet of flowers for the Benard family, and a small gift for Heather Benard who shared their journey with us, as a very minute way of saying thank you for recognizing my sister’s story and giving me the opportunity to be there. I placed the bouquet along with my jacket on the table which had a small candle on it and a few seconds later began to admire the aroma of BBQ only to realize that my jacket had caught fire. Here I was, this close to seeing Maurice Benard and I was about to torch the place. With the swiftness of my friend Tara who saved the flowers from the same fate I took my jacket to the Ladies room and doused out the fire. None the wiser with the exception of the waitress and the very nice woman in the Ladies room, the evening proceeded without a hitch. I went to present the flowers to Paula Benard, who is gorgeous by the way, and she asked if I wanted to go in and give them to him now. I asked if she was serious and she said sure come on. (Okay, breathe Barb) Things went a little blank I admit, and I think I went a little numb when the door opened and there sitting behind a desk, ala Sonny, was the one and only MB himself who stood up and shook my hand. I now know why VMG’s palms get sweaty. Oh My God, can I tell you how absolutely gorgeous this man is in person…no I can’t because there are no words. Tara took our picture and of course my eyes are closed but who cares.
I was touched to speak with Paula who actually remembered about Aunt Jo, my sister Joanne. She mentioned that they were facing a similar situation in their family. So perhaps we can all remember them in our daily prayers, I know I will.
As with all of the other Meet and Greets, Maurice was introduced and the women went crazy. He was wearing a green and black striped long-sleeved shirt and a hat. No guns though, we weren’t as fortunate as you all that got to see them, nor his abs. He proceeded to speak about the characters giving an impeccable imitation of the girth of Jason, and his hair and then Michael, Carly, Spinelli and of course our Brenda.
The crowd that evening was divided in a three-way by S/B, S/C and S/K fans. We happened to be next to a table of women who went on for almost 10 minutes about the character of Kate being recast. I found it very difficult not shout out “who cares,” but, being the polite person that my sister would have wanted me to be, I resisted the urge. After all, these same women had flyers that they were asking us to sign and were sending to our cable company to save our soaps, so I cut them a little slack. Graciously though MB fielded each and every question asked and every comment stated with the utmost respect and humor. He is such a funny person. Who knew? Nothing new was discovered that evening with regard to future storylines that has not been covered at the other venues so I don’t have any secrets to reveal, but, did hear first hand that the last scenes with Vanessa were extremely emotional. I am truly not looking forward to that day. There will never be anyone for Sonny in my eyes other than Brenda.
He introduced me as the winner of the Hero contest and at first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go up to speak, but, given the chance to stand close to him on stage, and once again thank him personally, who wouldn’t.
The one who stole the show without question was Joshua Benard, who proceeded to sing two songs and rapped the third. He was also getting acquainted with a very young and very adorable Sonny fan at the back table. Very Cute ladies, watch out, new heartbreaker in the ranks.
In all, it was an honor, privilege, and dream come true, to be at the show and meet MB in person let alone having the chance to speak about Joanne. My heartfelt thanks to the Benard family and again I appreciate this opportunity to share my experience with you and will cherish these moments for years to come.
Barb Del Regino (BJD4VMG)
A HUGE thank you to Barb for sharing her wonderful story with us and entrusting me with helping her tell her tale. Thank you to everyone who helped make Maurice’s tour such a huge success and a memorable time for all. My story, Barb’s story, your story and someone else’s story could not have happened if it wasn’t first for Maurice finding a way he could connect with his fans.
We all know someone in our lives who is a hero and in return, we can be a hero to someone else and not even know it. We can achieve greatness, even if it stems from a kind word, helping someone with a door, a smile or something huge like being a parent, a donor of some sort or even giving your life so others can be free to live their lives without fear. You never know how we can touch someone’s life and make a difference… All I know is there are special people who change our lives for the better and make an impact that can never be duplicated again.
Thank you again to Maurice Benard, the Benard Family, Melissa and everyone who helped make these events happen!
TTFN xo Ro