During the most recent Survivor season, contestant Yul Kwon told some of his fellow “Winners at War” about a heartbreaking turn of events for his fellow Survivor: Cook Islands cast member Jonathan Penner is currently experiencing with his family.
Using that conversation as a jumping-off point, Survivor followed that segment with a public service announcement from Penner where he revealed that his wife, Stacy, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in December 2017. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects the central nervous system, causing loss of muscle control. It is eventually fatal. Two and a half years after her initial diagnosis, Stacy “can no longer walk, talk, swallow, or breathe without a machine,” Penner revealed at the time on the CBS website asking for donations to the ALS Association.
He also said at the time, “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.” Since then, Penner has been tirelessly advocating for his wife and ALS research. Here’s where they are now.
The Penners Recently Celebrated Their 29th Wedding Anniversary
29 years ago today. There are not enough words. pic.twitter.com/SSX9LB98qi
— Jonathan Penner (@SurvivorPenner) September 14, 2020
In September 2020, Jonathan posted a call to action on Twitter, asking friends to send Stacy some videos for their 29th wedding anniversary, which was on September 14. He wrote that due to COVID-19, it has been especially hard for them this summer.
“Due to Covid, few people can visit, & none can touch Stacy. But she’s terminally ill & really needs some TLC. Please send a reply video I can play her on Monday for our 29th anniversary? Something glad & brave & beautiful? A virtual hug & a kiss? Thank you all & sending love!” wrote Jonathan on Twitter.
Among the fans who responded was fellow Survivor castaway Teresa Cooper, who praised their “love and loyalty” to each other as a “forever love story.”
Happy anniversary, Stacy & Jonathan!! Your love & loyalty to each another is a forever love story! Sending ya‘ll love from Georgia & prayers for all things beautiful for you both on your day! #stilltheone pic.twitter.com/aIVhPOzjs4
— Teresa Cooper/T-Bird (@tbirdcooper) September 14, 2020
He also shared a photo of them getting to swim in a pool, with him helping Stacy get into the water and later wrote to a fan who asked about Stacy, “She loved getting in the water, and our friends were kind enough to let us bring the mass of machines and supplies necessary for even this seemingly simple outing. She is amazing, that’s how she’s doing. Amazing everyone who meets her.”
Several Survivor Castaways Held A Telethon for the Fight Against ALS
Additionally, this summer a group of Survivor contestants hosted a virtual ALS telethon on Russell Hantz’s Youtube channel. It featured over two dozen of the greatest contestants to ever play the game, including Hantz, Lex van den Berghe, Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien, Terry Deitz, Aras Baskauskas, Wendell Holland, Peridiam, Tommy Sheehan, Noura Salman, Dean Kowalski, Rob Cesternino, Spencer Bledsoe, Adam Klein, Kelley Wentworth, Rick Devens, Benjamin “Coach” Wade, Jonny Fairplay, and more.
It ran over three hours and all proceeds were split between the ALS Foundation, Compassionate Care ALS, and Massachusetts General Hospital. It is not too late to donate to the cause.
Survivor hopes to film season 41 in the spring of 2021 for a fall 2021 premiere.