published Monday, July 29th, 2013

TV stars share life wisdom with She expo crowd

Caroline Manzo answers questions on stage during She: An Expo for Women at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Sunday. Manzo is featured on the television show "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."
Caroline Manzo answers questions on stage during She: An Expo for Women at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Sunday. Manzo is featured on the television show "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."
Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
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    Dr. Travis Stork, host of the television show "The Doctors," speaks at She: An Expo for Women at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Sunday.
    Photo by Andy Sher.
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  • photo
    Actress Deidre Hall speaks to fans during the She expo. Hall is a long-time cast member of the daytime drama "Days of our Lives."
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

They put down their scripts to share a piece of their hearts.

TV celebrities with insights on womanhood and health led the way under an extravagant purple stage at She: An Expo for Women. Sunday’s events focused on health and home.

Caroline Manzo, a mother featured on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” started the testimonies on raising a family both in front of cameras and away from them.

“Don’t ever let anyone intimidate you, ever,” Manzo said. “If you have a dream, just go for it and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.”

Manzo made the decision to let reality TV camera crews observe her family. Cameras often follow the Manzos for six months at a time, for 13 hours per day, just for key snippets of “Real Housewives” footage.

“We’ve never said it’s been a bad idea,” Manzo said. “There were lots of tears, lots of crying, but also the highest highs. That’s life.”

Not a stranger to heavy emotions herself, soap opera icon Deidre Hall took questions from fans and articulated the importance of strong women with her “Meadow Talk.”

“Have you ever sent a man to the grocery store? He comes back with cat food because it’s not his job,” Hall joked. “We, as women, are the ones who keep the tribe alive. Do you know how strong we are?”

Hall has appeared in more than 3,800 episodes of “Days of Our Lives,” in a career that earned her multiple daytime awards and the title of “Best Television Role Model.”

“We have Thanksgiving on the show,” she said. “Your family is right there with you. That’s why it is a comfort to have this show on the air for women across the country.”

Hall is considered one of the most popular soap stars by fans of all ages. Even 4-year-olds adore her.

Four-year-old Nashville native Alex Welch recognized Hall from a previous women’s expo and decided to join her on stage mid-speech.

The two had met before in one of Hall’s autograph lines, where she stopped to read a kitchen book to the curly-haired boy.

“We knew he was going to do it, and we had a feeling she was going to recognize him immediately,” said Doug Welch, Alex’s father. “With him being so small, she stopped everything just for him.”

Dr. Travis Stork, host of the daytime health show “The Doctors,” made a house call as the afternoon’s final speaker.

Stork completed his emergency medicine residency at Vanderbilt University and spent most of a decade in Tennessee.

“It’s such a pleasure to be back in the state of Tennessee,” Stork said. “My goal is by the end of this speech, you will go home and be excited about your health.”

And home wasn’t the only option for positive health choices. The Chattanooga Convention Center event featured an array of women’s health resources, including nutrition, health care, allergy, weight loss, surgery and cancer experts.

“We’ve been blessed to save lives for the last five years,” said Jason Taylor, Times Free Press president. “It’s because of the free health care screenings from Memorial.” The Times Free Press and Memorial Health Care System sponsor the She expo.

A group of breast cancer survivors put on a fashion show through the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, striding the runway to the pounding beat of popular dance music.

“Cancer cannot fight forever,” said Darlene Smith, a secretary with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. “We will fight until we find a cure.”

The event was a foundation for friends and family to come together. Above anything else, it was a bonding experience.

“I think it’s been a great weekend for women of our area,” Taylor said. “I really enjoy seeing the multiple generations together. It’s really cool to see the grandmothers and the daughters and granddaughters together with their girlfriends, hanging out and shopping.”

Contact staff writer Jeff LaFave at jlafave@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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