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COMMUNITY Hoffman: Inner Strength, Determination Can Make You a Survivor South Dakota native Holly Hoffman was hoping for an adventure when she mailed off an application for CBS’s “Survivor” in June 2009 and that’s exactly what she got. Hoffman, a lifelong resident of Eureka, population 926, located in north central South Dakota, became the last woman standing and the lone member of the Espada tribe enduring 38 days in the Nicaraguan jungle during the 21st season “Survivor,” but her adventure is still under way. “I gave my first speech yesterday in Aberdeen,” Hoffman told “Her Voice” during an interview last month. “It went pretty good, I practiced a couple of times at home. I was a little nervous because I used Power Point. I got a standing ovation at the end so that felt pretty good.” Hoffman has turned her “Survivor” adventure into a motivational speaking tour including a stint as headliner of the 7th annual Celebrate Women April 28. “My story is so big in so many different ways that I really change it up depending on the group,” she said. “For Celebrate Women I’m going to focus on women doing things for themselves. Women tend to do a lot of things for other people, be it our families or our careers. If we aren’t happy with ourselves it’s hard to find that determination and inner strength. ‘Survivor’ really was about taking time for myself – doing something for me.” Of course, Hoffman didn’t expect to actually get on the show. Her immediate goal was to get a casting call. “I held on to my application for a while after I filled it out,” she said. “I kept thinking, ‘Wow, can I really do this, so many people apply for this show?’ My goal was to get a call and I really thought that would happen.” Although Hoffman kept her fingers crossed, she didn’t think about the application much after she dropped if off at the mailbox in June 2009. Hoffman was plenty busy as Eureka’s swim coach, a high school volleyball official and a rancher with husband, Charlie. “We were working cattle one day and one of the people who was helping us asked about the show,” she said. “I said I had applied but hadn’t heard anything yet. He thought I probably didn’t get it since I hadn’t heard. I decided I was going to keep a positive attitude. It floated in and out of my mind periodically but I didn’t dwell on it. I figured if I didn’t make it, I’d just apply again.” The phone finally rang on Feb. 5, 2010, and Hoffman found herself flying to Los Angeles for a casting call on March 2. She found out she made it on the show the third week in April and a year after she mailed her application she was off on her adventure. Initially, Hoffman found herself overwhelmed. “I married very young, at 19, and we had children right away, so I’ve always had my family and friends very close to me,” she said. “Leaving to go all by myself to a different country and not being able to talk to any of them was extremely hard. I was nervous going to the casting call by myself, but I took the opportunity and the 38 days I spent in the jungle really changed my outlook on life.” In addition to being isolated from her family and friends, Hoffman soon found out the reality of surviving “Survivor.” “You really have nothing,” she said. “A lot of people think they give you toilet paper and things like that but you literally have nothing but the clothes on your back.” And then there was the hunger. 4 ■ HERVOICE MARCH/APRIL 2011

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