Wednesday, January 19, 2022

SOAPFEST | A Weekend of Fun to Raise Awareness

As Alberto passed through the Gulf, Island Theater Company hosted its 2018 Soapfest Charity Weekend. The island event brought daytime soap stars to help raise money and awareness for people with autism and special needs. Rain or shine, the weekend was far from dampened.

“The enthusiasm from the fans, everyone on board, and the local donors gave what they could while they’re all still recovering from Hurricane Irma,” Coordinator Pat Berry stated. “The support was wonderful considering we just had a major hurricane and as you can see by looking on this island, there’s a lot of roofs and a lot of repairs that need to be done. We are very grateful to the people that helped us this weekend.”

There were various events throughout the weekend to keep soap fans excited. There was an exclusive Painting with the Kids session, Night of Stars event, Booze Cruise, Celebrity Karaoke Bar Bash and the VIP Farewell Brunch. This year’s lineup included: Melissa Archer, Sean Carrigan, Kate Linder, Robert Palmer Watkins, Jeff Branson, Hayley Erin, Camryn Grimes, Christian LeBlanc, Robert Adamson, and newcomers Josh Swickard and Patrika Darbo. Actors Brytni Sarpy and Ryan Paevey were unable to attend due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts.

The paint activity supports the Arts for the Kids and children with special needs. A child connects with an actor through art and the use of colors as vibrant as their creativity. These moments leave a lasting impression on both the kids and the actors who usually share these stories with the donors and sponsors. All paintings completed were auctioned off at each of the remaining events.

The Night of Stars kicks off the first public formal event of the weekend with this year’s venue at the Rose Auditorium. Each guest sat with a “star” and experienced the infamous Soapfest Game Night. The first round of paintings sold along with silent auction items and experience packages with some of the actors, which brought in $2,000 more than last year.

First timer Josh Swickard laughs with the crowd as he auctions off his paintings.

The Sunday activities continued even as Alberto passed by in the Gulf. While the Marco Island Princess of Sunshine Tours did not leave the dock, the time passed with more auctions and a relaxed lunch atmosphere with the actors. Paintings were presented, and each actor spoke about special needs awareness as the focus of the weekend.

A longtime volunteer spoke candidly about the connections this weekend establishes and the lengths families will travel to attend.

“A little boy all the way from Albuquerque named Santi Martinez found out about Soapfest and researched all the celebrities until he found the two he wanted to paint with,” Donna Alexander stated. “Several phone calls and plenty of arrangements later, he was here and was able to paint with Melissa Archer and Camryn Grimes.”

In the evening, guests enjoyed the Celebrity Karaoke Bar Bash with DJ Jared, and meeting the actors behind the bar or at the karaoke stand at Mango’s Dockside Bistro.

A brunch for event sponsors and donors at the Eubanks property, catered by local resident, Nick Lamenti, brought the special weekend to a close.

“It truly takes a village and this year felt cohesive,” Actor Jeff Branson commented to the guests. “Pat Berry has done such a wonderful job at making this year absolutely wonderful, a big thank you to the sponsors, donors, and all volunteers.”

Soapfest Charity Weekend benefits local programs such as Camp Able, Grace Place, and Island Theater Company Kids Program. Visit and follow the Facebook and Instagram pages for frequent event updates.

One last photo at the brunch. Moments later, two actors fell right in.

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