No toilets, no running water, no food, but lots of adventure

A survivor since he was a kid


You could hear the buzz and see the second look of someone trying to think of where they knew him from.

Yes “that guy” was in the line waiting to purchase his normal coffee-to-go at Café Tempo in the Apponaug section of Warwick.

This was normally followed by someone asking to take their picture with him.

What was the commotion all about?

It was because reality TV star Bruce Perreault was there.

Bruce, who was a contestant on the hit television show, “Survivor” until a few weeks ago, is used to the attention.   As a matter of fact, he kind of likes it.

And if you haven’t seen what is reported to be one of the longest-running reality TV shows in history (it has been around since 2000) then you’re missing out on a lot of fun.

 Bruce Perreault’s road, from being abandoned at the age of two to becoming a fan-favorite in the Survivor series, was only a few days away from winning the grand prize of one million dollars.

 The road was not easy.

 Luckily for him, his time spent in the care of the State of Rhode Island ended when he turned seven, being adopted by the Perreault family of West Warwick.

The Perreaults, with six of their own children as well as eight that they adopted, provided Bruce with a kind, loving family that all kids deserve.   They even fostered about 120 children through the years.  Remarkable by any standard.

Bruce’s life was quite typical from that wonderful adoption day.

He attended Grammar School in West Warwick and graduated from West Warwick High School in 1996.

After graduation, he enlisted in the Unites States Navy, serving our nation honorably for four years.

When he returned, he married his sweetheart, Melinda Duggan, and the couple moved to the Greenwood section of Warwick.

The couple would have two children, daughter Sydnee and son Dylan, who Bruce still gushes about.  A “proud dad” is an understatement.

In 2019 Bruce decided to audition for the Survivor series, so he sent in the required video and waited…and waited, and waited.

Then about six months later he got the call and was soon on his way to Los Angeles for an interview.

After the interview he heard the words that he was waiting for from Producer Jeff Probst; “yep, we want you.”

The excitement wouldn’t last long, however, due to the Covid pandemic.  The show was put on hold.

Thankfully though, in October of 2021, he received another call asking if he wanted to be a contestant on Series 44.  You know the answer, and he was soon on his way to Fiji.

He would meet the other 17 castaways, and broke off into the three groups of 6, and the competition was on.

Unfortunately, on day one of the competition, Bruce hit his head on an overhanging beam, and had to be medivacked off the island.

Bruce blamed the accident on his shirt, explaining that because it was so tight, he couldn’t raise his arms all the way up, and smacked his head.

The competition was over for him, though he was allowed to stay at the “Ponderosa” on the island, where he could talk with people who were “voted off.”

 Fortunately, he was invited back to participate in Season 45, and relished the opportunity to finally compete.

Asked what the typical competition was like, he said “it’s everything.  Agility, puzzles, memory competition and some competitions that look like Army training.”

The winner of every specific competition gets an “immunity pass” which they can use to keep from being “voted out” by the other competitors, because after each session, someone must leave.

At the end of the competition (which lasts 26 days), the winners from each of the three Tribes are called in front of a group of contestants who have already lost.  They then vote for the ultimate winner.

 As you can imagine, there’s a lot of planning and conniving and gamesmanship with each other throughout the contest.

And sometimes it is not pretty.

Tempers flare, some words that can’t be printed are exchanged, and accusations fly in their efforts to plot to eliminate the other contestants.

Bruce saw his share of the venom, and a good share of laughs, being called “Uncle Bruce” and “Dad Bruce,” because he was a “father figure” among some of the younger contestants.

Life wasn’t easy on the Island.

There were no toilets, no running water, and no food.

Contestants washed their clothes (3 sets were allowed) in the ocean, and they ate a lot of coconuts and crabs (heck of a diet plan). 

He also answered my follow up question before I asked it.

“There are no scripts.  That’s why the show kept taping during the writer’s strike.”

 He,  of course,  knows who won season 45, but he can’t say.

I asked if contestants were paid, and he explained that they indeed are, ranging from $5,000 to $1 million, depending on how long you remain in the competition.

 Would he do it again?

“In a minute.   I loved every single piece of it!”

“If they call for an overbearing father figure to school these young kids – I’m ready!” he said while laughing (Bruce was the oldest male in Season 45).

 Asked what’s next for Bruce, he was circumspect.

He said he had an “awesome” life with his adoptive parents, Gerald (who worked in the West Warwick Public Works Department and has unfortunately passed), and Theresa Perreault (who, of course, is a Saint for raising dozens and dozens of foster children as well as her own), he now uses his celebrity to help the causes he likes so much, as well as working as a real estate agent for the Williams & Stuart Agency and an insurance professional at AAA in Warwick.

He loves spending time with his family and volunteers for organizations like Adoption Rhode Island.

As a matter of fact, he recently spoke at the Rhode Island State House during National Adoption Awareness Month, with the usual requests for photos.

“People are sometimes hesitant to approach me, but I love it. I love talking to people about family and important things in our lives.   I even like to talk about things most people don’t talk about.”

I asked if race was one of those things?

He answered “I had a great childhood. Growing up in West Warwick was great.  We had no social media then, and I didn’t have a cell phone until I was in the military.  But I saw my share of racism, some blatant and some not so blatant.   I even had one person come up to me and tell me that in the Bible it says that races shouldn’t mix.”

But Bruce takes it in stride.  He is someone that has nothing but a positive outlook and embodies the principles of family and hard work.

 I of course had to ask the next question.  Is there politics in the future?

“Definitely. I would like to stick my toe in the water.   My plan in 2024 is to start looking and going to more City Council meetings.”

Don’t bet against my friend Bruce.

The motto of Survivor will serve him well in politics.  “Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.”

The final episode of the show airs Dec. 20 and then we’ll learn who the survivor is.