Season 43 of Survivor just wrapped up and its winner, Mike Gabler, brought tears to the eyes of many players and fans after his passionate speech and promise to donate the $1 million prize to veterans.
Gabler, a 52-year-old heart valve engineer, had said throughout the season that this was his plan if he managed to win the money, due to his reverence for veterans like his father who served in the Army.
When host Jeff Probst asked Gabler what he would do with the money, this was the beautiful response that followed.
“There are people who need that money more, and I’m going to donate the entire prize — the entire million-dollar prize, in my father’s name, Robert Gabler, who was a Green Beret — to veterans in need who are recovering from psychiatric problems, PTSD, and curb the suicide epidemic. We’re going to save lives and do something good.”
In another interaction that was shared by People, Gabler explained that while the money would help him, he realized much more while away for more than a month on Su
rvivor which will allow him to make his and his family’s life better.
I’ve worked very hard, I’ve been fortunate, but you know, I realized being through this experience, I am rich at home. I have an amazing life at home. I have an amazing family. I have amazing friends. I need to be a better husband, I need to be a better father, I need to be a better brother, I need to be a better son. I’m going to do all those things just like all of us are going to do that when we go home. And to take this million dollars in this time period where there’s so much going on in the news that people don’t like to look at, and we go, ‘Well that’s why we’re watching Survivor, because amazing things happen on this show, and we just did another one on season 43. We’re going to help veterans in need and we’re going to donate that entire million dollars to them, and I’m forever grateful that we did this. We did this guys.”
Gabler’s donation is likely to go a long way to helping veterans reassimilate into a normal life stateside.
According to the National Center for PTSD, Gabler has pinpointed a huge issue that affects veterans greatly every year. In their most recent study, up to 20% of those who served in Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have been diagnosed with PTSD in any given year. That number remains high for veterans of the Vietnam War, with the study saying that about 30% of them experience PTSD in their lifetime.
Gabler closed his passionate speech with this great line, encapsulating all that he had achieved on Survivor.
“Season 43, all of us did this. A million dollars is going to them. We made history guys.”