“Sunday Burquest had one of the brightest smiles of any person to ever play ‘Survivor,'” tweeted Jeff Probst following the recent death of the fan-fave castaway from “Millennials vs. Gen X.” Sunday, age 50, passed away on April 18 after a year-long battle with esophageal and ovarian cancer. The “Survivor” host continued, “She radiated kindness and understanding. She seemed to understand better than most, that life is for living, so say yes to life whenever possible. My condolences go out to her family and friends.”
Sunday Burquest had one of the brightest smiles of any person to ever play Survivor. She radiated kindness and understanding. She seemed to understand better than most, that life is for living, so say yes to life whenever possible. My condolences go out to her family and friends. pic.twitter.com/eL2Q1qDw3f
— Jeff Probst (@JeffProbst) April 18, 2021
She previously survived breast cancer in 2012 before joining up with the CBS reality TV show in 2016. Sunday was the oldest woman cast on that 33rd season, which pitted Gen Xers against Millennials. This Minnesota youth pastor made it all the way to Day 35 in Fiji, which is when the alliance of Adam Klein, Hannah Shapiro, Ken McNickle and David Wright voted her out. When she became a member of the jury, Sunday was one of the 10 people who voted unanimously to give Adam the $1 million check.
Adam shared his own emotional reaction to Sunday’s death on his Instagram account:
A couple days ago, I texted Sunday to check in and send some love. That night, her daughter responded with a message from Sunday: “She is going to say hi to your mom for you.”
When Sunday was first diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer, she looked at the positive and told us #TheStageHasBeenSet for a miracle. Everything in Sunday’s soul was about giving, kindness, generosity towards others. Even during Survivor when we were starving and voting each other out, she gave us genuine love and guidance with our weekly “Sunday School”. “God loves you,” she would say to us all with a big smile. And even as she faced daily hardship during her battle, she took to her update videos to continue to give strength, guidance, and inspiration to others. Her miracle wasn’t the cure of her cancer, SHE was the miracle that gifted us with so much. The true #GritGirl, inspiring us all to love more and live fully, despite any obstacles.
The stage is now set. Her children, Carter, Tucker, Brock, and Kennedy, her husband Jeff, our Survivor MvGx cast, and everyone she impacted and made better, are the players. When you go, you don’t go, so long as you have made an impact on other people. Where we go, Sunday will go. Sunday School is still in session, and always will be.
When Sunday bought my mom’s favorite chocolates for her in the airport in Fiji, she told me she was excited to meet her. Just a couple days ago, she said the same. I know you’ll be the best of friends, and laugh so loud together we’ll hear it from here. Until we all meet again, I will miss you, my friend.
Sunday is the ninth former contestant to pass away after appearing on “Survivor.” The others are Angie Jakusz (Palau), Cliff Robinson (Cagayan), Rudy Boesch (Borneo and All-Stars), Ashley Massaro (China), Dan Kay (Gabon), Caleb Bankston (Blood vs. Water), B.B. Andersen (Borneo) and Jenn Lyon (Palau). Tour our photo gallery below to reminisce on all of their “Survivor” journeys.
The 41st season of “Survivor” is filming right now in Fiji following a year-long delay due to Covid-19. There is no word yet on when the season will air, but our guess is that CBS will hold it until the Fall and air it in its normal Wednesdays-at-8pm time slot. Stay tuned.