August 15, 2008 12:00 PM by Ryan Haidet
Bruce Kanegai made it all the way to the jury on Survivor: Panama — Exile Island. But he wasn’t voted out — a medical issue took him out of the game. Since Survivor, Bruce says he has been able to leave his job, take two vacations a month and tries to serve others. RealityTVMagazine’s Ryan Haidet talked with Bruce earlier this summer to see what had been going on since the show
What has been happening for you since your stint on Survivor?
Well, I’ve done 30 charity appearances. I’ve donated everything I own and every penny I get back to the charity. I won’t take anything. I Just was in Las Vegas for my daughter’s 21st birthday. I taught her how to shoot craps. She walked away with $650.
(Earlier this summer) I was leading 140 black belt candidates of different levels in a four-day karate camp. Had to get up at 4:45 every morning, run down a mountain barefoot — a mile down, a mile back up — before warm-ups. I re-injured my calf muscle, but I still did the entire training — I led it.
I have an Internet distribution business that took off so well, ’cause the future is everybody shopping online. So that’s what I do and help people start their own business. And I was able to walk away from my job forever.
Do you still watch Survivor?
Well, I do watch Survivor — that’s the only reality show I do watch. I don’t even know what the other ones are. Once in a while I’ll catch a glimpse of The Amazing Race, but I’m always gone and doing something. I go on two vacations a month.
What do you think of some of the recent seasons of Survivor?
It seems like recently since I was on Survivor 12, they’ve been getting more food. They look fatter. I think they should suffer more. I think the fans agree with me because that’s what Survivor is about. But when they’re floating on rafts and the first day they’re getting chickens and hens and bananas and this and that — and right away getting food. Being able to find food on their islands and fish right away. I mean, it wasn’t until day 15 that we really got something to eat. And I think that’s all part of Survivor because you have to go through the mental, the physical, the hunger.
And some of these place they’ve been going to: No mosquitoes. I was getting like 120 to 150 bug bites a day. I walked away with over 3,000 bug bites. I look at these people and they’re skin is like for a skin-lotion commercial. This is like day 28 — all they need to do is shave their legs and armpits, but other than that, it looks pretty easy to me.
Have you had any recurrences with your injury you sustained on Survivor?
No recurrences after I got out of the hospital. (But) Since I’ve met my lovely wife, bless her soul, I’ve been to the E.R., paramedics and urgent care 41 times now. And that’s just since I met my wife. Those are injuries.
I understand you climbed a mountain?
Mt. Whitney is the highest mountain in the 48 states. People have to get a permit now and trained to hike it. I ran over the top, down the backside over 10 mountain ranges and 220 miles to Yosemite and set a world record.
What is it about adventure to you that is so intriguing?
Today it’s so sad because I taught high school for 34 years. Because of the high technology, the computer age and TV, people have just become couch potatoes and become overweight and lazy. What happens is, the real adventurers — the days of the pirates and the Renaissance man — no longer exist. I just can’t stand a mediocre life. I just can’t stand doing something every day, every week and also not being able to help and serve. Today I feel like I’m the modern-day samurai. And that’s not being tough or killing somebody. The word ‘samurai’ means ‘to serve.’ And all the times I should’ve died, and I’m a strong Christian, I just know that I’m here to serve and that’s why I like to do charity causes.
Photo by Ryan Haidet.