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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Indian Hill's 'extremely competitive' Dan Strunk longed to be on 'Survivor'

SURVIVOR
Robert Voets/CBS
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CBS Entertainment
Daniel Strunk, a 2010 Indian Hill High School graduate, will be identified on "Survivor" in March as a law clerk from New Haven, CT.

Retired teacher Steve Reger says Dan Strunk talked about his desire to be on Survivor while attending Indian Hill High School.

If the new Survivor has challenges for Seinfeld trivia, or a mock trial competition, Indian Hill native Dan Strunk will have a huge advantage.

But don't count on it.

Strunk, one of the 18 castaways on CBS' Survivor premiering March 8, was an "extremely competitive" Indian Hill High School student who beat childhood cancer, recalls Steve Reger, retired Indian Hill High School social studies teacher. He's got the tattoo to prove it. (More about that later.)

"Danny stood out immediately," says Reger, who retired last month. "He had a winning smile, a great attitude, and a thirst to understand everything. It was only after I had come to admire him that I learned that he was also a cancer survivor."

CIHJ_121009_TH_A_001_C.ps
Courtesy Indian Hill Journal
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"Danny" Strunk, an 18-year-old Indian Hill High School senior, appeared in an Indian Hill Journal story about his Slam Dunk for LLS fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Yes, Strunk already is a survivor. Strunk, 30, who will be identified on the show as a law clerk living in New Haven, CT, made headlines in the Indian Hill Journal as a high school senior in 2009 for organizing a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The story said that Strunk's leukemia had been in remission for almost five years.

What intrigued Reger the most about Strunk, however, was his "encyclopedic knowledge of all things Seinfeld. He may — I repeat may — be the only person on the planet who knows that show's trivia better than I do."

In CBS' promotional video for Survivor, Strunk praised "an amazing government high school teacher" who ignited an interest in law. He didn't name the teacher or his alma mater.

Reger says he "inspired Danny ... by getting him involved in the Mock Trial team" that Reger still coaches in retirement.

2022 STEVE REGER Indian Hill teacher in Indianapolis candy shop CROP.jpg
Courtesy Steve Reger
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This photo of Steve Reger, which appeared on his Indian Hill Schools' website bio, was made at his favorite Indianapolis candy shop and "perfectly captures my twisted sense of humor," he says.

"Danny and I are both extremely competitive and we bonded immediately," Reger says. "Working together, we won the first two of Indian Hill's seven Mock Trial state championships (in 2009 and 2010). Part of how I inspired Danny was by promising that, when — not if — he won Indian Hill's first Mock Trial State Championship, I would get a tattoo to commemorate the event. I did, and I added to it when he repeated in 2010."

Reger, 51, isn't surprised that the 2010 Indian Hill graduate ended up as a lawyer — or on Survivor. Strunk says on the CBS video that being on Survivor "is like this itch, and I want there to be no Survivor Itch any more."

"Danny once told me that he had four 'itches' to scratch," Reger says. "In no particular order, they were to win a Mock Trial State championship. Check (twice actually!) To be on Survivor. Check! To become a federal judge — that one is just a matter of time. And to perform in Star Wars The Musical — which I'm pretty sure does not yet exist. But once it does, it will be checkmate!"