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Survivor

EXCLUSIVE: Luke Toki opens up on how the ‘overwhelming’ GoFundMe money will help his family

So far, more than $450,000 has been raised for Luke and his family after his Australian Survivor elimination.

By Tina Burke
Luke Toki's elimination will go down in history as one of the most heartbreaking Australian Survivor moments of all time.
The 33-year-old father of three had returned to our screens for a second chance at being named the Sole Survivor, following his stint on the series in 2017. He had sacrificed "everything" to play the game a second time, so when he was booted from the top four it was an emotional affair for all the fans.
He came so close to winning the $500,000 prize-money that his family so desperately needed, that his defeat was a tough pill to swallow.
"I thought I had it in the bag, man!" Luke tells TV WEEK of his close call.
"After Abbey's blindside I thought that's it. All I had to do was win the next immunity, that'd be five immunity necklaces and I'd be the record-breaker, I'd go on and win whatever the final challenge was and win the game! You can't beat that ending, right? And then… I didn't get it. So I ran out and cried."
Luke's torch is snuffed by Jonathan LaPaglia on Australian Survivor.
Luke and his wife, Mary Toki, are parents to Lennox, 7, Nate, 5, and baby Madeline. Luke admits he struggled during filming, as his baby girl was just six weeks old and recently diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he went to Fiji.
"I left my baby, you know? And my baby was not healthy," he says of the difficult time.
"Her bowels were outside of her body, I was sitting there having to do these things called re-feeds. She had a colostomy bag but it kept sliding off because she's got cystic fibrosis, so she's got salty skin. So you put this bag on, and twice a day we were having to suck the s--t out of the colostomy bag. All while you're also giving her replacement salts, antibiotics, you've got to feed her, all this s--t we didn't plan for.
"So, while all that was happening, I legit did the handball to the Mrs. She had my sister to help and had some help from our family, but it doesn't matter how much help you have when you don't have your other person there.
"And then on top of it, there was a time where I was like, what type of dad am I? And that's the one thing I care about, irrelevant of everything else, I want to be a good dad."
During filming, Madeline had to have an operation and things "didn't go to plan." She was on morphine and wasn't eating, with Luke revealing she "wasn't in a good state" for a while.
"So, to sit there and have my daughter, my first daughter, knowing she's not doing well … and then to lose? I was, like, all this was for nothing. That was how I felt, at that point. I'd set myself up for the win, you know? That win was there for the taking and I lost it."
Luke and his wife Mary.
Though Luke was crushed to lose like that, he and his family are about to receive an incredible gift from the Australian public.
Since his elimination on Monday night, a GoFundMe page set up by a Survivor super-fan named Dave Skow has raised a jaw-dropping sum for Luke's family. When we spoke to Luke at midday on Tuesday, it had reached $147,000. By Wednesday morning, it had reached over $450,000.
The charitable response from fans has left Luke "overwhelmed."
"It's crazy. I was never going to create one for myself," he says. "And then when I got wind that people were creating them I checked my phone and was stoked to see $5000.
"I thought, at most, it would stop at $15,000. Like, that's huge. And I mean, you get $147,000? That's life-changing! Who needs to win Survivor? Just come fourth!"
Luke jokes he'll be withdrawing all the cash to create a 'pool of money' to lay in.
"So, when I'm sitting there and it's climbing that much like, holy s—t. I'm gonna withdraw all that and lay in it. I'll be making money angels."
Luke and Mary's three children; Nate, Lennox and Madeline.
Jokes aside, Luke and Mary are unbelievably grateful for the money they're set to be given. Along with Madeline's cystic fibrosis, their son Lennox was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, and Nate with diagnosed with a condition called Global Developmental Delay (GDD). This money will help to change their lives.
"People were saying, like, it can be dangerous with people starting GoFundMe Pages, about where the money goes, but he's already been in contact with my wife," Luke reveals of the account.
The proud parents will be able to provide a secure future for their family with this money, which will no doubt help to offset some of their medical expenses.
"One of the messages she's sent was just like 'holy s--t, we've just paid off all our debts and then some.' You know, I think she knew how… this game really took it out of me. She saw that when I came back.
"But now, this GoFundMe thing, I think she might be able to see that it's set up the family."
The GoFundMe page for Luke Toki can be found here.

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