On tonight’s Survivor, Yul Kwon revealed to his tribe that his good friend and former Survivor: Cook Islands player Jonathan Penner is struggling because his wife, Stacy Title, was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She can no longer breathe on her own. Yul says he’s playing for them and CBS put up a site where people can learn more about the condition and what they can do to help.
“When my wife Stacy was diagnosed with ALS, we found new meaning to the word ‘survivor,'” says Penner in the video. “Learn more about our story and how you can help others with ALS, visit cbs.com/survivoralsinfo.”
Stacy Was Diagnosed in December 2017
The site gives a few more details about Stacy’s diagnosis, which happened in December 2017. It hasn’t even been two and a half years and she can’t walk, talk, swallow or breathe without a machine. She requires 24-hour care and can only communicate with her family by moving her eyes.
“Though Stacy has ALS and we are fighting for her life, we’ve been blessed with more friends and love than anyone could ask for,” said Jonathan on the site. “And we have wonderful champions in Yul and the other Winners at War. But even so, the physical, emotional, and financial hardship is overwhelming. And it’s not just us, there are many other families who need both help and hope.”
ALS stands for “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,” which is a neurodegenerative condition that affects the nerve cells of the spinal cord and brain. The reason it is called Lou Gehrig’s Disease is that famous baseball player Lou Gehrig suffered and ultimately died from the condition. The disease itself isn’t technically fatal, but it does cause its sufferers to go into respiratory distress or failure.
Yul Will Match the FIrst $50,000 in Donations Dollar for Dollar
Jonathan is asking for donations to the ALS Association, which is working to find new treatments and a cure. The donations will be distributed to The Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Mass General Hospital in Boston (a leading ALS research center) and Compassionate Care ALS (a direct help and service provider for families and caregivers, with nationwide and international reach).
Because he was so dismayed to learn about his friend’s hardship, Yul has pledged to match the first $50,000 in donations.
“No family should have to endure what Stacy, Jonathan, and their two children have endured, or make the hard choices they’ve had to make,” said Yul. “Please join us in supporting them and the thousands of people who suffer from ALS today—and the many more lives that will be shattered unless we find a cure.”
Ahead of the episode, Kwon posted a birthday tribute to Penner on Instagram, writing, “Happy birthday to one of the most caring and courageous people I know. I’ve always looked to Jonathan as the kind of husband and father I want to be. I’m so grateful to have met you on Cook Islands, and for the 14 years of friendship we’ve built together since.
“This video is 3 years old, but it’s one of my favorites. Jonathan and Stacy are visiting our home, and he’s playing tag with my two girls. The wall is his “base” and they’re trying to tag him when he’s not touching it. As you can tell, they adore their Uncle Jonathan.”
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