Colorado native Christy Smith was billed as Survivor's first disabled contestant. While the 25-year-old is deaf, she's clearly more than able. Even before she did Survivor: The Amazon — as a sort of Father's Day gift for her dad — the former kids' adventure guide had spent a month in Alaska, roughing it in an Outward Bound program. Despite her determination and experience, Survivor was no picnic.
As fans will recall, Smith's struggles to comprehend what her Survivor tribemates were saying (and plotting) led to tears and confrontations early on. After her ouster on Day 33, her final words were particularly emotional. "I am going to make sure that those freakin' evil stepsisters of mine are not going to win the $1 million," she said about skin 'n' bones beauties Heidi Strobel and Jenna Morasca. She nonetheless voted for Morasca to win in the end. We guess that machete-sharpening runner-up, Matthew van Ertfelda, was just too weird.
Anyway, the single Smith has moved on. These days, she is developing a childrens' show for PBS stations called Christy's Kids. It aims to "teach hearing and deaf kids about nature and ways to break communication barriers," she says. "I'll be the facilitator to guide the kids on a journey."
She's also a substitute teacher for special-needs kids and speaks at schools for the deaf. "Survivor opened doors for me," she says. "I have wonderful fans, and I learned who my true friends are." Smith adds that she has "respect" for her tricky Amazon cronies. "I learned I am a tough cookie — I can do anything. Now, I want to travel the world and see cool places."
Would Smith ever do an all-stars edition of Survivor? "I would do it again," Smith says, "or any other reality show — if I had interpreters. I don't like not knowing what's going on."
For more on Christy Smith, pick up the new issue of TV Guide magazine, on sale Thursday.