Areas of Study

GU Alumna Appears on Wheel of Fortune

Photo courtesy of Lori Bonheyo. From left: Lorraine Gold-Appel and Lori Kronick Bonheyo, ’81.
Lori Kronick Bonheyo, ’81, and her friend of 56 years, Lorraine Gold-Appel, enjoyed a not-so-typical girlfriend getaway that was shown nationwide on February 26, as they competed against two other girlfriend teams on the hit game show, “Wheel of Fortune.”

And yes, they won.

Although they failed to win the bonus round near the end of the show, Bonheyo and Gold-Appel won $22,174 in money and prizes, which included a trip to Jamaica. Game show host Pat Sajak teasingly had them share the sign for Jamaica for the viewing audience before telling them that they had won the trip.

In a blog written by Bonheyo and Gold-Appel, they explained that while Bonheyo traveled to New York in March 2018 to visit Gold-Appel, a night of chatting and drinking wine led to a discussion about television game shows and how they wanted to be on WOF.

The two went ahead and produced a required video, submitted an application, and waited to hear back. A few months later, they received via email an invitation to a live audition in Washington, D.C.

“I couldn’t believe it!” said Bonheyo. “I contacted Lorraine, and then we set our practice strategies in motion. Watching WOF every night was already a ritual for us, so we talked about how we could work together.”

During the audition, two contestant coaches and an interpreter were on-hand to assist. They discovered that if selected to be on the show, interpreter access would not be available during the actual taping.

“Lori and I worked well together,” said Gold-Appel. “We made it through the three audition rounds and were told we had to wait two weeks to find out if we were going to be selected. In exactly two weeks, we received word that we were selected to appear on Wheel of Fortune. We were excited beyond belief.”

It was two months later when they found out they would appear on Wheel of Fortune’s Girlfriend’s Getaway show at Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California. Joining them as part of the audience was Bonheyo’s husband, Andrew Bonheyo, ’85, and mother, Irene Kronick, E-’58.

Following an early morning start, Bonheyo and Gold-Appel arrived on location and were met by their audition coaches.

“They led us through the security line to meet our interpreters and the rest of the Wheel of Fortune crew,” said Bonheyo. “We were fed, went to make-up and hair, practiced our introductions, spinning the actual wheel, and finally practiced an actual game. The contestant coordinators were awesome because they made sure that all our needs were met.

“Despite the studio being freezing, we felt we were in heaven, finally able to see the actual studio, the big wheel, and meet Pat and Vanna!”

Bonheyo and Gold-Appel did get off to a rough start once the show began.

“In the first toss up round, Lori held the buzzer, and we decided I would squeeze her arm if I knew the answer,” said Gold-Appel. “What we didn’t anticipate was that we would both know the answer. When I figured out it was ‘ruby red’, I shouted my incorrect answer, ‘ruby red slippers’ and looked over to Lori signing the correct answer, ‘ruby red earrings’.”

“The first time we spun the wheel, we hit a bankrupt,” said Bonheyo. “We both hoped this was not an omen, and thank God, it wasn’t.”

As the show concluded, Bonheyo and Gold-Appel were able to share some deaf culture with Sajak and Vanna White, the show’s hostess.

“We were so happy to be on the show and have that experience,” said Gold-Appel. “The people who were with us all day were all wonderful. Pat and Vanna seemed taken aback when we insisted we usually don’t shake people’s hands, but because we were raised in the deaf community, we gave them both a hug.”

“The best part was Vanna coming over to ask how to sign ‘see you tomorrow’ in American Sign Language,” said Bonheyo. “After her quick lesson, she did a beautiful job ending the show with her new-found knowledge.”

A major challenge was to keep secret their performance on WOF between the January taping and airing of the show.

“It was really hard to say nothing, especially when I was around with my families and friends often,” said Bonheyo.

This is not the first time a Gallaudet alumna has appeared on a television game show. Several deaf contestants have appeared on the CBS game show, “The Price is Right,” including Kristine Hall, ’98 and Bonheyo, who earned a B.A. in Social Work, worked at Gallaudet from 1981 to 1993 as a coordinator of Residential Education (Student Life), Family Life Program (Department of College Continuing Education), and Professional Development (Pre-College Programs).

She currently lives in Frederick, Maryland, where after serving as Student Affairs dean, she retired from the Maryland School for the Deaf in December 2015.

Gold-Appel, who grew up with deaf parents, is an interpreter at the New York School for the Deaf (White Plains).

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