NH's Noelle Lambert exits 'Survivor' in top 8

Nov. 24—A New Hampshire woman's quest to win the reality TV game show "Survivor" has come to an end.

Noelle Lambert, a Paralympian and the first above-the-knee amputee to compete on the popular CBS show, was voted off in an episode broadcast Wednesday night.

Raised in Londonderry and now living in Manchester, Lambert finished in the top eight out of 18 contestants competing on the 43rd season of the show, filmed in Fiji.

"I'm absolutely satisfied with what I've been able to do and accomplish, especially physically," Lambert, 25, said at the end of this week's episode. "I came into this game wanting to play the hardest and that's what got me voted off, but I did a good job. To be the first above the knee amputee to ever play the game of 'Survivor,' hopefully I can pave the way for a new generation of people to start applying."

Lambert will appear in remaining episodes this season as a member of the jury of ousted contestants, who ultimately choose this season's winner.

Lambert, who lost her left leg above her knee in a moped accident in 2016, was competing in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo the summer of 2021 — where she set an American record for the 100 meter — when a casting agent with 'Survivor' sent her a direct message on social media asking if she would be interested in appearing on the show.

"My mom is the biggest, diehard Survivor fan there is," said Lambert. "She got me into watching it from a really young age."

She worked closely with Jason Lalla, a certified prosthetist at Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics in Manchester's Millyard to help prepare her for what she might face in Fiji.

Lambert was voted off by her fellow contestants following an inspiring performance to win this week's reward challenge.

Competing for the right to spend a night at the show's 'sanctuary' and indulge in food like pizza, brownies, and beer, Lambert and others had to spin inside a metal frame to slowly pull a buoy attached to a rope towards them. Once the buoy crossed a line, contestants moved through several obstacles to try and become the first to collect a sandbag from a long beam, then work their way along the narrow beam before tossing the sandbag and landing it on top of a tall tower.

Lambert struggled while trying to collect the sandbag and navigating her way along the beam, finishing that portion well behind the other contestants. As the rest struggled with their throws, Lambert landed her sandbag on the tower first, winning the reward before dropping to her knees, clearly overcome with emotion.

"I was really doubting myself but I didn't want to give up because I came out here wanting to prove to myself and to everybody else that I can do these challenges, and I did it," Lambert told the audience during the show.

After receiving a running blade that still allowed her to play lacrosse — she was on the lacrosse team at the University of Massachusetts Lowell when the accident happened — Lambert wanted to pay things forward through her own organization, The Born to Run Foundation.

Because many insurance policies will not cover athletic prosthetics, Born to Run eases the financial burden for young amputees, in addition to building a community of peer support.

Since December 2019, the foundation has donated 21 specialized prostheses, leveling the playing field for amputees to pursue their athletic dreams and achieve lifetime goals.