Reality TV Stars Outwit, Outplay and Outlast To Raise Funds For Youth

(Featured photo of celebrity participants by Justin Yoder.)

When Missy Payne competed on the hit CBS show Survivor in 2015, she came in second place and departed from Nicaragua without the million, but walked away with a winning idea to change lives. Payne spent 15 years as a competition cheer coach but after her time on Survivor, she decided to channel her energy into helping high school youth discover their passion and pursue their dreams, just as she had out on those islands.

On August 25-26, reality TV stars from an array of television shows including Survivor, Amazing Race, Big Brother and American Ninja Warrior gathered in Dallas to help Payne raise funds for her non-profit, Cheer 4 Your Life.  The weekend kicked off on Friday, August 25 with the “It’s A Jungle Out There” party at the historic Granada Theater. Guests enjoyed an uplifting evening consisting of dinner, open bar, and silent and live auction. Entertainment consisted of inspiring musical and dance performances from Cheer 4 Your Life teen beneficiaries.

The evening’s emcee and auctioneer was SJ Tuohy, the adopted brother of Michael Oher, whose family story was famously told in the hit movie, The Blind Side. “When my brother Michael was playing high school basketball, my Dad asked his friend Nick Saban (who was the Head Coach at LSU at that time) to come take a look at him and to let him know if he had any real talent,” said Tuohy. “It took Nick just 5 minutes of watching Michael play before he told my Dad that Michael would be a professional player in the NFL, if that was what he wanted. It took Nick 5 minutes to see what society hadn’t bothered to see in 15 years – that he had the ability to be somebody special. We often do that, we disvalue people – we cast them off without giving them a real chance – and you never know how many Michael Oher’s there are out there unless you give kids a chance – and that’s what C4YL does.”

On Saturday, August 26, the festivities continued with the Warriors Games, a family-friendly event that was held on the grounds of the Lake Highlands Recreational Center.  Participates were fired up to compete and attendees were able to watch teams comprised of former players from Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother and American Ninja Warrior and young adults from Cheer 4 Your Life’s teen Warrior program compete in challenges similar to those seen on the hit CBS show, Survivor. The teams were hit with twists and turns as the games progressed. In true Survivor tradition, the final challenge to determine who would be crowned the Winning Warriors was a fire-making challenge.

Congrats to Survivor’s Keith Nale and his teen teammate, Colby Carter, for using a flint and creating a fire big enough to burn through the twine to raise their flag, making them victorious!!

Proceeds from this event raised funds for Cheer 4 Your Life, a non profit organization 501(C)3 that 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 most beneficial part of the Cheer 4 Your Life journey (for me) so far has been the Warriors project, which is a leadership program for teens encompassing community outreach and personal growth while raising money through healthy competition in monthly challenges,” said Missy Payne. “To witness the teen’s reactions to meeting each other for the first time (members of the Warriors Project & C4YL Beneficiaries) – it’s just so rewarding!”

Celebrity attendees included:

  • Uchenna Agu (Amazing Race, Season 7 WINNER)
  • Joe Anglim (Survivor Worlds Apart, Season 30 and Survivor Cambodia, Season 31)
  • Michaela Bradshaw (Survivor Millennials vs. Gen X, Season 33 & Survivor Game Changers, Season 34)
  • Christina Coria (Survivor Cook Islands, Season 13)
  • Brittany Hanks (American Ninja Warrior, Season 8 & 9)
  • Tom Doweidt (American Ninja Warriors, Season 8)
  • Chynna Hart (American Ninja Warriors, Season X)
  • Mike Holloway (Survivor Worlds Apart, Season 30 WINNER)
  • Elliott Jolivette (American Ninja Warriors, Season 8/9)
  • Tanner Kloven (Amazing Race, Season 27)
  • Sherri LaBrant (Amazing Race, Season 28)
  • April Lewis (Big Brother, Season 6)
  • Meg Maley (Big Brother, Season 17)
  • Keith Nale (Survivor San Juan del Sur, Season 29)
  • Wesley “Wes” Nale (Survivor San Juan del Sur, Season 29)
  • Penny Otwell (Survivor Samoa, Season 19)
  • Missy Payne (Survivor San Juan del Sur, Season 29)
  • Carolyn “Mama C” Rivera (Survivor Worlds Apart, Season 30)
  • Joy Strickland (American Ninja Warrior, Season 8)
  • Sierra Dawn Thomas (Survivor Worlds Apart, Season 30)

 About Cheer 4 Your Life:

Cheer 4 Your Life is a non profit organization 501(C)3 that 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.  We believe 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.  Some of the beneficial effects include self-discipline, commitment, integrity and a willingness to serve others.



Principal of Philanthropy Lifestyles (formerly, the award-winning eBuzzNewsletter and Adams Communications Public Relations, a boutique PR firm specializing in media and community relations for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Sharon is also a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Dallas Business Journal, Katy Trail Weekly, People Newspapers (Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People/North Dallas People), Preston Hollow Life magazine, The Park Cities News, White Rock Lake Weekly, numerous blogs and websites and more.