Kathy gets "Real"
My favourite S4 contestant (and still the true "winner, imo)
plans to use her new found "power" for good.
‘Survivor’ hoping women get ‘Real’
SOUTH BURLINGTON — Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien didn’t take home the $1 million prize, but the “Survivor: Marquesas” contestant says appearing on the reality television show changed her life in ways she didn’t expect.
Now Vavrick-O’Brien is hoping to help other women move out of their element through The Real Foundation, which she’s designed to grant money for counseling and special projects like outdoor adventures.
Vavrick-O’Brien, 48, says competing in the CBS show whose finale aired in May challenged her both physically and psychologically.
“I thought I was going to have this thing all wrapped up and I was going to understand it and interpret how the game worked,” she said. “And I was going to get out there and move right through it, when in fact I was just learning lesson after lesson.”
And while participating in the show, Vavrick-O’Brien says she learned about the importance of tapping into her inner strength and connecting with others.
“If I was going to survive out there and get to the million, I needed to show them who I was,” said Vavrick-O’Brien, who finished third. “I was pretty amazed that once I showed them that I could cry and that I was upset and that I was scared, they wanted to help me.”
She’s now using part of her $80,000 earnings from “Survivor” and is soliciting donations from around the country in hopes of offering women a life-changing experience like the one she had while in the South Pacific’s Marquesas Islands.
“What this whole thing is about is being real and showing who you are,” said Vavrick-O’Brien, who also has returned to her job selling real estate since completing the show.
The South Burlington-based Real Foundation is aimed at helping women who are stuck in a personal rut and who want to make changes in their lives, she said.
“It’s the woman that has a fire in her belly that’s just gotten to the point where she wants to make a change, and there is just too much sitting there where she can’t,” Vavrick-O’Brien said.
“But she can find a way out if she has the confidence. When you have hope and you’ve got some dreams, you can do a lot. You can climb out of your hole,” she said.
The foundation will distribute funds to nonprofit organizations around the country. It plans to begin granting money as early as this fall. Those initial grants will allow participating women to get counseling, she said.
Vavrick-O’Brien eventually wants to pair that counseling with empowering experiences like skydiving or climbing Camel’s Hump.
“It would be nice eventually if the foundation could bring these women to Vermont,” she said. “Because there is something about entering this state even by car. … coming to Vermont is like a breath, it’s a release.”
She also wants her foundation’s Web site to include chat rooms, something she hopes will allow women going through difficult experiences to connect with each other.
Vavrick-O’Brien is also helping start up a company offering experiential adventures to corporations and other individuals. Ultimately she’s hoping to use some of that venture’s profits to help support The Real Foundation.
“They’re going to learn to navigate, they’re going to have to house themselves in the woods, they’re going to be very exhausted. But at the same time we have a really good team of people that know what they’re doing to support them,” she said of that venture.
Vavrick-O’Brien hopes her foundation will enable women to go beyond their self-imposed limits, something she says she did while participating in “Survivor.”
“You can change — it’s not that big of a scary world out there,” she said. “Here I was on a TV show and millions of people have accepted me for who I was. It’s OK — you can break out and do something new; you really can.”[ /quote]
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