Star-Studded Red Balloon Party Raised Over 10,000 Meals Saturday

Movie stars, Film Makers, TV stars, musicians and surfers showed up Santa Cruz's R. Blitzer Gallery for Mavericks Award Premier party and to fight hunger.


The Go Big Project/Chasing Monsters monthly Red Balloon Party Series at the R. Blitzer Gallery brought big wave surfers, film makers, musicians, actors, T.V. and radio personalities together as hunger fighters Saturday April 28th collecting over 10,230 meals for Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County. 

Special guest The Morning Madhouse 102.5 KDON's Sam Diggedy and Domingo were on hand to show their support and make the event over the top with radio support. Sam Diggedy "We have been a supporter since the beginning, we are excited to help the central coast get involved through our station."

"I am here to support Grind Out Hunger and work on feeding kids everywhere," said Empire Entertainment Group CEO Joey Hernandez, the fighter and entrepreneur, who flew in from Miami. "I am here to help take Grind Out Hunger national."

Actress Sara Kova arrived from Los Angeles with over 50 pounds of canned food and dry goods ready to donate to the cause. "It is ridiculous that kids are going hungry," she said. "I cannot even imagine why we let that happen."

The Go Big Project/Chasing Monsters parlayed the 2012 Mavericks Awards Ceremonies Premier for the first time to a capacity crowd since . Best Photo of the season went to Ken "Skindog" Collins shot by Frank Quirarte; while Darryl "Flea" Virostko was recognized as a Mavericks Legend for his 3 wins during the Mavericks Contests and overall agressive approach for two decades. Additional surfers on hand for the evening were Shawn "Barney" Barron, Anthony Tashnick, Nic Lamb, Homer Henard and Andres Flores as were the wounded veterans who came to participate in Operation Surf.

Attendees were treated to artwork by Anthony Tashnick and Shawn "Barney" Barron, among other surfer artists. Barron brought a robot made from industrial materials as part of the gallery's "Secret Art Show."

In the entrance to the event attendees were able to watch a mural being painted by artist Miranda Winterz, who did her work on the walls of a freight elevator.

Over 200 people showed up and hung out to the tunes of DJ Rudi B. and Volcom Stone provided giveaways for the party goers.

Rocky Romano CEO of The Go Big Project: "I hope that the Red Balloon Party series serves as an eye opener to see the action sports, art community fulfilling more traditional roles in society and our community. I hope that it serves as an inspiration to all facets of our society to get involved in making positive changes in your community." 

Newly inducted Hunger Fighters Ken "Skindog" Collins and Nic Lamb represented surf while Musician Hunger Fighter Jeff Frady weighed in:

"It sickens me to think of Santa Cruz County and that there are kids going hungry. I walk these streets everyday looking at million dollar homes and people with more than they even know what to do with. And to think that one out of every four kids are not getting enough to eat? This world is out of balance! You're damn right I'm a hunger fighter!!"

Musician Hunger Fighter Tess Dunn made a bold statement.

"There are many charities in Santa Cruz that are focused on helping others, but not many use the power of youth to spread the word. Learning that one in four kids are going hungry in Santa Cruz alone is not okay with me. Music is a universal language, and I'm determined to make others aware of childhood hunger through mine." 

And the most recent musician added to Grind Out Hunger Royalty said: "People only think it happens in other countries but this epidemic goes under the radar in our own backyards. I encourage everyone to step up and help us come together and feed children, help give them the quality of life we all deserve."

Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Hilary Bryant gave a commendation to brothers for their heroic efforts in saving the life of Lee Tolson, who got caught in heavy surf last month. The brothers saw her from the road and climbed down the cliff fully clothed, to save her.

"I know anyone in this room, every real surfer would do exactly what we did," said Troy Virostko.

His brother, Darryl, added: "Things happen for a reason, that day changed my life and added a new member to my FleaHab board all at the same time."

As the crowd was silent in reflection, Lee Tolson took the opportunity to share her feelings.

"I looked up and saw a hand, most people would not have put themselves into that position. While Troy and Flea saved my life, FleaHab is saving people and giving them a life free of addiction. So please support Darryl in his quest and donate to FleaHab."

The night was action packed and wrapped up with musical artist Royalty performing his chart topping song "Brown Eyed Girl." 

Food was provided by Pono Hawaiian Grill.

The night was amazing it is awesome to see the awareness taking place as people realize that there are children and families going hungry in Santa Cruz County and what they can do to alleviate this issue. 

Visit the Grind Out Hunger Flickr

Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County works to provide food to over 55,000 people every month with about 12,000 kids recieving emergency food assitance. For more info please visit Grind Out Hunger and Second Harvest Food Bank.


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