“Survivor” Contestant Yul Kwon Dedicates His Game to Stacy Title and Jonathan Penner’s Battle with ALS

“Survivor: Cook Islands” (CBS)

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Gordon Holmes: Tonight’s episode features a segment where you discuss Stacy Title and Jonathan Penner’s battle with ALS and your decision to donate your winnings to ALS research. Is there any update on that situation since you filmed the season?

Yul Kwon: When I left to film season 40, I wasn’t sure what condition Stacy would be in when I got back.  I had dedicated my season to her and really hoped that she’d be able to watch it with Jonathan and her children.  The good news is that she didn’t experience any major new health issues while I was away, and she’s been enjoying this season along with everyone else.  But the nature of ALS is such that the progression of the disease continues, and she’s slowly losing control over the one part of her body she can still use to communicate, her eyes.  In the meantime, Jonathan continues to be her primary caregiver and do everything he can to support her and their two children.   

Their biggest concern, however, is the fact that Stacy has a form of ALS (familial ALS) caused by a genetic abnormality that can be inherited.  This means that each of their two children has a 50% chance of inheriting the same abnormality. The fear that their kids may have to go through what Stacy has gone through is what’s driving them to share their story publicly — they want to find a cure before it’s too late. 

Holmes: And now you’re working with CBS and “Survivor” to help raise awareness? Also, where can fans go to donate to ALS research?

Kwon: I’ve been working closely with Lori DelliColli, who is a VP of Publicity at CBS overseeing “Survivor,” and she’s been absolutely amazing.  From the moment I raised the idea of trying to help Stacy and Jonathan, she’s gone above and beyond to champion this within CBS and get everyone onboard with sharing Stacy’s story and supporting ALS research and families.  

Here’s what we have planned so far.  In tonight’s episode (which I haven’t seen, by the way, I’m just going on what I’ve been told), there will be a segment where I talk with my tribemates about Stacy and Jonathan.  CBS will air a PSA in which Stacy and Jonathan encourage viewers to learn more by going to www.cbs.com/SurvivorALSInfo.  There, they can learn more about Stacy’s journey, get information about ALS, and join the fight by donating. The donations will go to support three terrific ALS nonprofits that are involved in research, advocacy, and helping families in need.  To help encourage donations and enable people to double their impact, I’ll be matching the first $50,000 in donations that come in.  Of course, I’m still hoping other people or organizations will consider matching as well, but I felt it would be important to provide some sort of matching upfront to get the ball rolling.  

Holmes: That’s amazing. OK, to prep us for tonight, let’s do a little word association. I’ll give you someone’s name, you tell me how you feel about them at this point in the game. Let’s start with…Kim.

Kwon: Adaptable.

Holmes: Sophie?

Kwon: Nerdshield?!

Holmes: Nick?

Kwon: Hungry.

Holmes: Tyson?

Kwon: Formidable.

Holmes: Amber?

Kwon: Resilient.

Holmes: Wendell?

Kwon: Cool.

Holmes: Sandra?

Kwon: Queen.

Holmes: Tony?

Kwon: Ladder!

Holmes: And let’s finish with Sarah.

Kwon: Empathetic.

Learn More about ALS and Donate to ALS Charities: www.cbs.com/SurvivorALSInfo

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @GordonHolmes