HYANNIS — Julie Zaks had to admit a lunch date with hunky Dennis resident and former "Bachelorette" contestant Chris Lambton felt "surreal."
Zaks, of Dorchester, won the lunch in a raffle after donating $90 to the 7th annual NOAH Telethon, a fundraiser for the Hyannis homeless shelter, in December.
Lambton, 33, was the last of 25 candidates to be rejected by Ali Fedotowsky in Bora Bora during last season's reality show "The Bachelorette." The owner of E. Lambton Landscaping has been making himself useful to many charitable groups post-show.
A date with Lambton also is one of the prizes offered at an online silent auction to benefit the Ellie Fund, an organization helping breast cancer patients.
Attention ladies, bidding lasts until March 11!
At The Naked Oyster on Main Street in Hyannis on Saturday, Lambton reflected on the life-changing year that began with a landscaping customer from Yarmouth, who nominated him for the show.
"I was landscaping at this woman's house and we were talking," said the blue-eyed, broad-shouldered bachelor.
She happened to be a big fan of ABC's reality show, "The Bachelorette," and asked him whether she could take his picture and nominate him.
The woman, who Lambton called Michelle from New Jersey and Yarmouth, made a convincing case that he was a sweet, small town guy who worked as a teacher in New York City. He returned to Dennis to help when his mother became ill with Multi System Atrophy, a motor neuron disease with symptoms similar to ALS. She died in 2008.
Lambton's story pulled on heart strings, and his looks didn't hurt either.
When he got the first call from ABC, Lambton declined. He said he had no desire for his private life to become public.
But he relented and went through three months of filming, a strange time being sequestered with the other contestants, and allowed no access to friends, family, newspapers or television.
Lambton nearly won, but Fedotowsky ultimately picked Roberto Martinez, to whom she's now engaged.
Then Lambton emerged from the reality show bubble, rejected by one bachelorette but beloved by others.
"It's bizarre," he said. "A year ago, I was just here on Cape Cod working with my brother. I was nobody. Now," he laughs, "I was in an airport the other day and a girl came up to me and asked to her have picture taken with me. It's definitely been life-changing."
He does have a girlfriend from Dallas, Texas, he said. They met in October when he was in North Carolina helping out at another charity event, the Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Classic.
Lambton didn't want to go into details about his new squeeze.
But he did say she's not the jealous type. She understands all these dates are for a good cause.
Zaks wore a pretty dress for Saturday's date. A legal assistant who lives with her 83-year-old grandmother, Zaks donated to the NOAH Telethon because she has a friend who is struggling on the Cape. Yes, the fact she might also win a date with Lambton motivated her.
When she won, "I nearly fell down," she said.
Zaks said she watched the show and cheered for Lambton because he's a fellow Massachusetts resident.
Lambton still gets lots of offers to help out charities. He picks and chooses, but clearly says yes to many.
"The reality show thing can be used to give back," he said.
Rick Brigham, the NOAH development coordinator, said Lambton helped the telethon greatly. Thanks in part to the Cape reality TV celeb, the telethon raised $73,000, up from $60,000 the previous year.