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‘Survivor’ Holly Hoffman to headline BVACC banquet
Member, Business of the Year awards to be announced
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

March 19. 2013 2:23PM
Holly Hoffman is no quitter.

The Eureka woman came to that conclusion after living – and surviving – her first five days in the Nicaraguan jungle, and then went on to survive another 33 days as a 2010 cast member on the popular CBS reality show, “Season 21 Survivor Nicaragua.”

Hoffman will share her “Survivor” story next Thursday, March 21, as this year’s guest speaker at the annual banquet of the Brandon Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. The event will be held at the Brandon Holiday Inn Express. Social hour is at 5:30 p.m. followed by the 6:30 p.m. welcome and dinner, and 7:15 p.m. guest speaker and awards program.

In addition to Hoffman’s presentation, two awards given annually – the Chamber Member of the Year and the Chamber Business of the Year – will also be announced. The Brandon Community Foundation will also present their spring grant awards to five community organizations that evening.

Tickets are $35 for BVACC members and $60 for non-members, and are available at the Chamber office.

Hoffman’s appearance in Brandon next week is largely credited to “Survivor” host, Jeff Probst.

On the 39th day – the day following Hoffman being voted off - Probst encouraged her to consider a career in public speaking because she had a great story to tell.

“I feel like there was a reason I was put on this show,” she said.

Hoffman will share her complete “Survivor” story from start to finish next week, from why she applied to be on the show to wanting to give up five days into the adventure to her final day on the island.

“I applied because I really wanted an adventure and a challenge,” said Hoffman, who was one of 18 castaways selected from 100,000 applicants. “I loved the show and with all three of my kids off to college, I wanted to do something for myself.”

Hoffman said she easily relates playing the game of “Survivor” to real life, because life, like the game, can be difficult.

The wife of S.D. State Representative Charlie Hoffman said she was ready to throw in the towel just five days into the adventure. “It was hard,” she said, “and I did talk about quitting, but I didn’t quit. I dug down deep … I had the desire and determination and I spent a lot of nights on the beach praying, because I don’t know how you can do something like that without prayer, and when you do something like this, it totally deepens your faith.”

Hoffman also received a pep talk from former Dallas Cowboys football coach Jimmy Johnson.

“If it wasn’t for Jimmy Johnson and a producer who talked to me and pulled me aside, I probably would’ve quit,” she confesses.

Hoffman said as she sat down to do her exit interview, “It just hit me. I am not a quitter. In life, there are hardships but if you dig deep, you’ll be a better person.”

Hoffman, who was the 15th castaway lasted 38 of the 39 days. “I tell people I wasn’t one day short, I was 38 days long,” she said. “I was disappointed, yes, but more saddened that it was over.”

Hoffman felt she went into the adventure fully prepared physically. “I had been running, biking and swimming and I learned how to start a fire and tie knots,” she said. “But the mental part is hard because you’re thinking constantly, so that was exhausting.”

There were other hardships that Hoffman will share during her talk next week, including the episode in which she stole a $1,600 pair of alligator shoes owned by Survivor castmate, 63-year-old Dan Lembo of Water Mill, N.Y.

“I have a hard time watching that episode, because that was not me,” she said.

In the days leading up to the game, Hoffman and the other 17 castaways were told that their lives, upon their return home, would be much different.

And Hoffman’s has. After the show’s airing, she took up Probst up on his advice to begin a career in public-motivational speaking, and has since spoken at hundreds of events, including a November 2011 event in Brandon, the Bethany Foundation Dinner.
Hoffman said she continues to enjoy meeting her fans.

“When people ask me for my autograph they tell me it’s such an honor to meet me,” she said. “But what they don’t realize is that it’s as much of an honor for me. I like it when people come up to me, even if it’s for five minutes.”

Hoffman admits playing the game of Survivor was difficult the first time around, but said she’d be willing to do it again.

“People look at me like I’m crazy when they ask why I would want to put myself through that again,” she explains. “But that’s the competitive side of me because I’m simply a woman from South Dakota that had an awesome, amazing adventure.”
About Holly Hoffman
Holly Hoffman was born and raised in Eureka, where she also graduated from Eureka High School and then attended Northern State University. She and her husband, Charlie, manage a cattle ranch in north central South Dakota. Charlie also serves as a Representative in the State Legislature.

The Hoffmans have three children, son, Austin (wife, Megan), who live in Brandon, and daughters, Alexandra and Elizabeth.

Hoffman now travels around the area making appearances and speaking to various organizations and school children. By sharing her Survivor experience, she has become a motivational speaker encouraging others.

In July 2012, her book, “Your Winner Within,” was released. The book focuses on attitude, confidence, determination, desire and faith. Hoffman says her book not only offers encouragement and optimism but is a roadmap for self-discovery and spiritual enlightenment.

Holly Hoffman Submitted photo

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