Have you ever watched a reality television show and thought, “That could so be me!!”? Well, I would like to inform you that that reality is not far from home. Shannon Foster, 2008 Southwestern graduate, nailed a spot on this upcoming season of “The Amazing Race” with her grandmother, Jody Kelly, by her side.
For those who are not aware of what “The Amazing Race” is, I’ll give a brief explanation. There is usually about 11 teams consisting of two members who have a preexisting personal relationship at the beginning of the race.
The goal is to race around the world by different modes of transportation, attempting to be the first team to make it at a variety of “pit stops” for a prize. If a team is last, they run the risk of being eliminated or having a disadvantage. The race continues until there are three teams remaining who then have to make one more pit stop first to win $1 million.
“We wanted time to travel together,” Foster said. “We had done two road trips from Texas to Colorado, along with some triathlons and training.”
Foster, her mom and Jody Kelly of age 72 train and participate in triathlons together. The news about the three generations running together spread and about a year and a half ago, there was an article written about them.
“Someone saw the article and approached us about ‘The Amazing Race,’” Foster said. “We worked really hard for about a week to tape our running and our activities around Austin.”
Sure enough, the tape was a success, and their hard work paid off. Kelly and Foster are making history on the show. Not only are they the first grandmother-granddaugher team on the race, Foster is one of the youngest participants and Kelly is the oldest participant ever.
Ironically, Foster has never been a fan of reality television until the attention and experience of “The Amazing Race.”
“I don’t watch a lot of TV,” Foster said. “I have not watched any reality TV show ever, but ‘The Amazing Race’ is the only one I would consider being on. I am definitely a fan of the show now and will continue to watch it in the future.”
Most people might be shocked that a women of Kelly’s age would participate in such a rigorous competition, but not the Foster family.
“Just because someone is 72 doesn’t mean that they are in a nursing home,” Kelly said. “I was able to be taken out of my comfort zone, and the whole experience was just pretty outrageous.”
As most reality television implies, relationships of people involved are often changed in the duration of the show. Foster and Kelly had only positive things to say about their relationship after the race.
“I definitely know my grandma better now after the race,” Foster said. “It brings out the best in people and the worst in people. We learned a lot about each other and it allowed us to understand each other better.”
“I am glad to have spent this time with a young person,” Kelly said. “It is so nice to see my family is in good shape for the future.”
Season 16 of “The Amazing Race” airs on Feb. 14 featuring Foster and Kelly.
On another note, what has Foster been up to since graduating from Southwestern?
She is now working full-time at a job that she worked part-time for while she was still at SU. She commented that the real world has been a crazy adventure since leaving Southwestern. How many students get to travel to several different countries, by several different modes of transportation, with their 72-year-old grandmother in a race for $1 million?