Local woman continues quest to outlast tribe on TV show
The principal at Tonganoxie High School remembers "Survivor: Guatemala" castaway Brandon Bellinger when Bellinger was in high school.
"He was a pretty resourceful kid," Shelton said of Bellinger, who has been in the same tribe as Tonganoxie resident Danni Boatwright since the show first aired a few weeks ago.
Sadly for Bellinger, his run on the show ended with Thursday's episode. He was voted off by a 6-4 vote, the closest margin thus far on "Survivor: Guatemala."
Bellinger attended Rock Creek High School near Manhattan where Shelton once taught.
"I just remember him being fairly quiet at some times and at other times he was just so funny," Shelton said.
That seemed to describe Bellinger on the show, too. He usually didn't have much to say during the show, but he would let loose with occasional one-liners.
Shelton recalled prom one year at Rock Creek. She and another teacher noticed someone on the dance floor participating in a pretty animated dance. To their surprise, it was Bellinger.
"Well, it was Brandon," Shelton said. "We were kind of taken aback because that's not something we were expecting of him."
Bellinger was one of the strongest castaways on the CBS show. While some castaways became ill during and after the initial reward challenge -- an 11-mile hike through an area of Guatemala near the Mayan ruins -- Bellinger remained poised.
Boatwright's mother, Vicki Cackler, said it was tough to see Bellinger voted off the show.
"What a heartbreaker," Cackler said.
CBS does not allow contestants to speak with the media until after they are kicked off the show. However, that rule does not apply to family members.
Fellow Kansans Bellinger and Boatwright became friends in Guatemala, Cackler said.
"They were so close," Cackler said. "They were such good friends."
After Bellinger was voted off the show last Thursday, he told Boatwright, "You're the sister I never had."
Until last week's episode, the castaways were split into two tribes -- the Nakum and the Yaxha. At the end of the Oct. 27 episode, though, it was announced the tribes would merge to form one tribe. Castaways picked Xhakum as their new tribal name.
However, the new tribe consisted of six former Nakum members and only four former Yaxha members. The players voted along tribal lines -- Bellinger was outnumbered and sent home.
Cackler hoped that Bellinger would have found the "idol" Thursday, but that wasn't to be. The object was hidden in the camp area. If anyone found the idol, they would have immunity from being voted off the show. No one came forth during the show with the hidden idol.
After watching Thursday's episode, Cackler said there was a distinct difference between the former Nakum and Yaxha members.
"It's kind of, you have the mod squad and the evil empire joined together," Cackler said.
Some Nakum members were not polite to Yaxha members when they joined the Nakum campsite.
After avoiding elimination during Thursday's show, Boatwright advanced to the halfway point of the show. Of 18 original castaways, nine remain, but Boatwright definitely is at a disadvantage now that only three Yaxha tribal members are left on the show.
"We've got to hope something will turn in the next two or three weeks," Cackler said. "Right now it looks like it will take a miracle. We're praying for a miracle."
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