Durham resident to compete in 'Survivor: Nicaragua' this fall

Posted August 9, 2010 7:24 p.m. EDT
Updated August 9, 2010 11:58 p.m. EDT

— "Survivor: Nicaragua" debuts next month on WRAL-TV and will feature two local castaways. One is Kelly Bruno, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill medical student, who hasn't let a disability stop her.

“I grew up as an amputee. I lost my leg when I was 6 months old,” Bruno said.

Bruno said her congenital disability made her a stronger person.

"So at the end of the day, it was a good thing,” she said.

While she competes in Survivor's 21st season, her friend, Alex Viada, is taking care of her dog back home in Durham.

“To say driven and motivated is an understatement,” Viada said of Bruno's determination. “She'll try anything and then decide that she needs to excel at it.”

Being selected as one of the show's 21 castaways was a high point in an otherwise tough year for Bruno.

“My dad was killed in January when he was down in Haiti,” Bruno said.

The volunteer physician died when his hotel collapsed during the January earthquake.

Viada said the tragedy urged Bruno, who competes in marathons and Ironman triathlons, to work even harder.

“She said, 'You know, I'm not going to let this derail me in medical school. I'm going to succeed because that is what he would have wanted,'” Viada recalled.

Bruno said the show provided her with the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I've always wanted to prove to people, I'm disabled (and) I have one leg. That's OK. I'm just as good as everyone else,” Bruno said.

The Emmy award-winning "Survivor" franchise started in 2000. In this season, contestants will be divided into two tribes based on ages.

"Survivor: Nicaragua" premieres Wednesday, Sept. 15, at 8 p.m. on WRAL.

Tune in to WRAL News Tuesday at 6 p.m. to learn more about the other local castaway, a dog breeder who hopes her skills on the farm will pay off on the show.