Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Soap Stars raise funds for autism

Soap Stars support Autism: 
Raising funds for Giant Steps Foundation
By Wendy Singer

Last weekend, General Hospital and The Young and The Restless fans of Montreal had the opportunity to meet some of their most beloved soap stars, who were in town for an action-packed weekend extravaganza.

Christian LeBlanc, Ryan Carnes, and Sean Carrigan show off a 'Leblanc' original.

CH Elegant Entertainment, spearheaded by Gina Lesage and Shpresa Nela, organized a fun-filled weekend that gave GH and Y & R fans the chance to live the dream of meeting these stars. CH Elegant hosts events such as meet and greets with guest stars from popular TV shows, concerts, and cocktails, for the benefit of non-profit organizations. 

This star-studded event was dedicated to raising funds for The Giant Steps Foundation. Giant Steps (GS) is a private school in the public interest in Montreal that is the only autism specific school to offer academic and social inclusion programs in the province of Quebec. Lesage recently learnt about the GS Foundation, and immediately knew that it would be the beneficiary of the next CH Elegant Entertainment event.

This was the first time that CH Elegant brought in five stars at the same time: Ryan Carnes, Laura Wright, and William DeVry from GH, and Sean Carrigan and Christian LeBlanc from Y & R. Their agenda was jam-packed, from bowling, karaoke, and mingling with their fans. 

Art project at Hachem.
We had the opportunity to meet Ryan Carnes, Sean Carrigan, and Christian LeBlanc at an intimate event at Hachem in Galeries Laval on Saturday morning. This art event paired Carnes, Carrigan, and LeBlanc with students with autism, from Giant Steps, to create paintings that would later be auctioned to the highest bidder at the stars' evening event.

Being soap fans ourselves, my colleague and I were a tad concerned that we'd fumble all over ourselves upon meeting them, but quite the opposite occurred. These three were warm, engaging, kind, and delightfully generous and compassionate with their painting buddies. 
Christian LeBlanc with his painting buddy
Christian LeBlanc is originally from Louisiana, and was feeling very at home on his first visit to Montreal. He is in the process of learning French, and was eager to try it out with us. (He speaks beautifully, by the way!) Leblanc was quite familiar with autism as his nephew is autistic, and was eager to raise funds for the cause and to help better the lives of people living with autism and their families. He and I chatted  about his relationship with his nephew, the struggles and the triumphs. He believes that his knowledge of acting enhances his interactions with his nephew.

Ryan Carnes with his painting buddy
Ryan Carnes was also working diligently with his buddy. We had a few minutes to chat after their painting was complete. "We all learn differently," he shared, in discussing how important it is to look beyond labels and adapt to each individual's learning needs. He brought up A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasques Story, which is a documentary about the life of a woman who discovered she was called 'the ugliest woman in the world' while searching for music on YouTube, and that he would like to get involved in projects of this nature.

Sean Carrigan and Ellis Nassef-Goldsmith
Our friend Ellis Nassef-Goldsmith was painting with Sean Carrigan. I had the opportunity to tell Carrigan about Ellis' history with drawing, and the extraordinary work that his father Jason does translating Ellis' drawing conversations into beautiful glass painted art with The Big Blue Hug. Their painting was fabulous. Take a look!

Laura Wright and Shpresa Nela
We also had the opportunity to meet William DeVry and Laura Wright on Sunday at the bowling event. DeVry is a native Quebecer, and long time Habs fan, and is always happy to be back on home turf. And Laura Wright was as radiant in person as she is on the small screen. 

Here's a little tidbit for the GH fans out there. When I congratulated Laura on the outstanding performances she has been nailing on GH, and for her work on the 'Jason' story, she responded, "I was so honoured that they gave me the opportunity to break the story." I agree that the writers chose well and 'Carly' certainly gave that breaking moment justice.

And when I asked DeVry if 'Julian Jerome' will be staying out of the mob...well, he just no clues away to this curious that question remains wide open for the time being!

Thanks to CH Elegant Entertainment and Ryan, William, Laura, Christian and Sean for
getting behind autism, raising awareness and much needed funds. Come back again soon!

To see more photos, visit our Facebook page at

For information on 
CH Elegant Entertainment, visit

For information on Giant Steps School, visit

Shpresa Nela, Diane Borghes, William DeVry, and Natalie Bigras

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