Home­less char­ity wins big on "The Wall"

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By DAPHNE TAY­LOR

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - When Chris Bent­ley was in col­lege in New York, he, like ev­ery­one else, couldn't help but no­tice the mas­sive home­less­ness prob­lem all over the streets of the Big Ap­ple.

In­spired by see­ing so many peo­ple strug­gling and liv­ing on the streets, he de­cided to do some­thing about it. He came back to Palm Beach County, his home, and vowed to help the cause.

He even­tu­ally cre­ated Live Fresh, a mo­bile trailer equipped with six shower stalls that moves from place to place en­abling the home­less to take a clean shower and get free toi­letries.

Bent­ley's work was deemed so amaz­ing that he caught the at­ten­tion of NBC TV ex­ec­u­tives and their hit new game show, "The Wall," which is ex­ec­u­tive pro­duced by sports star LeBron James among oth­ers. The show, which de­buted last De­cem­ber, has a his­tory of invit­ing con­tes­tants who are good peo­ple do­ing great things.

They se­lected Bent­ley and his sis­ter, Paris Bent­ley Cal­houn, hop­ing to net them some funds for Live Fresh, Bent­ley's non­profit busi­ness. Their episode re­cently aired - net­ting them well over $100,000 in win­nings, which Bent­ley plans to use to ex­pand his or­ga­ni­za­tion.

It was a dream-come-true, and a huge bless­ing for Bent­ley, he pointed out, con­sid­er­ing the ex­ten­sive na­tional pub­lic­ity he re­ceived for his non-profit.

"We couldn't have asked for bet­ter pub­lic­ity - yet we walked away with ad­di­tional funds too. You can't pay for this kind of pub­lic­ity, yet we got paid! It's a tremen­dous bless­ing for us," he ex­claimed.

Bent­ley says he has been in­ter­viewed on na­tional TV be­fore for his or­ga­ni­za­tion, but he has never been on a TV or game show. "It was Paris' first time in L.A. and it was my first time on an ac­tual TV Show. Yes, it was a once-in-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ence!"

Be­sides the fact that it was a sheer fun, Bent­ley said it was amaz­ing be­ing a part of a show that cel­e­brates the good in life.

"I think it's awe­some that he (LeBron James) has a show that high­lights the best of hu­man­ity. It's great that the show is fo­cused on great peo­ple do­ing great things!"

His older sis­ter Paris said she was sur­prised that Bent­ley chose her to be his part­ner on the show. Out of all of their sib­lings, she didn't feel she was the best at trivia. But to­gether they pulled it off.

"For some rea­son, he wanted me!" she said. "Our per­son­al­i­ties are dif­fer­ent, but we mesh! It was an ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time, and a roller coaster," she ex­plained. "If you've ever seen the show you know that one minute you're up and the next minute you're down!"

At one point the two had pos­ses­sion of over a mil­lion dol­lars dur­ing the show, but things were up and down, and they said they feel blessed to walk away with the $140, 231 they won.

"Not in a mil­lion years would I ever have thought this would hap­pen," Paris said. "I couldn't imag­ine walk­ing away with that kind of money! It was crazy," she said, laugh­ing.

Bent­ley said he has been over­whelmed by all the love and sup­port peo­ple from around the world have been show­ing them.

"So many peo­ple have been com­mend­ing us for our mis­sion. The re­cep­tion we've re­ceived has been phe­nom­e­nal. It's been so much fun, but a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence too ... and hav­ing the chance to show­case our char­ity on a na­tional stage was price­less."

Now that's he's done it and won big -would he be up to the chal­lenge again or on a dif­fer­ent game show? He says he would.

"Per­son­al­ity-wise I'm more of a be­hindthe scenes per­son. But the ex­pe­ri­ence was so life-chang­ing, I would do it again."

Bent­ley said he owes such grat­i­tude to the brass at NBC and The Wall.

"I would like to thank NBC, and the show's cre­ator, An­drew Glass­man, as well as LeBron James and host Chris Hard­wick -- plus all the mil­lions who saw the show and cheered us on."

The show aired July 20 and there were watch par­ties across the county, state and na­tion to cheer them on.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF LIVE FRESH, INC.

SUC­CESS: Chris Bent­ley (cen­ter) owner of Live Fresh, the provider of show­ers for the home­less, and his sis­ter, Paris Bent­ley Cal­houn cel­e­brate win­ning over $100,000 on NBC's game show "The Wall."

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF LIVE FRESH, INC.

Chris Bent­ley (left) owner of Live Fresh, and his sis­ter, Paris Bent­ley Cal­houn

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