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August 29, 2008

Reality TV star tells his story from surgery to “Survivor” Sept. 9 at ULM

Chad Crittenden from “Survivor: Vantatu” will be on ULM’s campus Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Building Ballroom. He is sponsored by ULM Residential Life.

His program is titled "The First Year Experience: Getting Off On The Right Foot (Even If You Don't Have One)!”

Crittenden surprised viewers of “Survivor: Vanuatu” when the contestant revealed that he only had one leg. About a year and a half before the show, Crittenden had his right leg amputated below the knee to remove a rare and deadly form of cancer.

After being diagnosed, he had to do some soul searching. "When you are in an extreme situation, your true colors show," Crittenden said. "It gets down to who you are at your center, your core."

He went on the TV show to show the general public that people with a disability or a handicap are just as capable as those without. "I wanted to go on ‘Survivor’ to dispel notions that people with disabilities are one step below able-bodied people," he said. "There is nothing you can do about how others perceive you unless you are doing something to change their mind."

One reason that Crittenden said that he applied for “Survivor” was that it was very difficult to find information about active people with amputations and prostheses. He said that he believes that the public would see immediately his disabilities and it would help to dispel preconceived notions about amputees.

Of course, he also did it for the adventure. Crittenden’s philosophy for success is simple: get motivated. "I just started thinking about solving the problem instead of wondering why and trying to blame someone or wallowing in my sorrow,” he said. “I looked at how I was going to make my life normal again."

Crittenden quickly recovered from surgery and completed a triathlon just nine months after the surgery before making it to the final rounds of “Survivor.” Today, he continues to race competitively on a regular basis. His new challenges include taking care of his two young children and authoring a soon-to-be published book about dads and parenting.

For more information, contact: (318) 342-5240.

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