People | Steve Helling
It was such an emotional situation to watch you get pulled from the game. You must have known when Jeff Probst walked onto your beach that it wasn't good news.
Absolutely. Whenever he shows up, it's never good news. And so he gets me from the shelter and as I'm walking down the beach, I'm not sure what he's going to say. I've got an 85-year-old mom and an 85-year-old mother-in-law, so I'm wondering if something happened to them.
And then the first thing he said was, 'Your son, Danny.' And I thought, 'Oh, my God.' He had just gotten his license; did he get in a car crash? I was so afraid that I was going to hear the word D-E-A-D. It was the worst moment of my life.
Wow. That sounds awful.
Jeff didn't know much either because of HIPAA laws. So we were really in the dark. All we knew was that something serious had happened.
Did Danny have any previous health problems?
No. None at all. This is the kind of thing that you hear about athletes who fall down on the field and never get up. He had a type of enlarged heart: dilated cardiomyopathy. It started to present itself right after I left for Cambodia.
My wife and Danny had just eaten lunch at Panera, and they went to the doctor because Danny wasn't feeling right. The doctors thought it was bronchitis or something else. They took an X-ray and realized that his lungs were clear but his heart was enlarged. They sent them to emergency room. It all happened so fast.