Pi­lots, cheer­lead­ers com­pet­ing on ‘Amaz­ing Race Canada: Heroes Edi­tion’


What makes a hero? They don’t all wear capes and tights or bend steel in their bare hands. On the new sea­son of “The Amaz­ing Race Canada,” the kind of ‘heroes’ view­ers will get to know are those who wear mil­i­tary or po­lice uni­forms; who work as teach­ers, nurses, or launch char­i­ties.

On “The Amaz­ing Race Canada: Heroes Edi­tion,” pre­mier­ing July 3 on CTV, there are also two re­tired air force pi­lots and Toronto Arg­onauts cheer­lead­ers.

All 10 teams were nom­i­nated by friends, fam­ily and co-work­ers. Among those com­pet­ing are two-time na­tional bar­rel rac­ing cham­pion Nancy Cs­abay and three-time Olympian Mel­lisa Hollingsworth, both from Al­berta.

Cs­abay, who re­ceived more than 30 nom­i­na­tions, has wanted to en­ter the “Amaz­ing Race” for years. “I’m turn­ing 50 this year, so why not?” she says.

Four years ago she was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer. Just don’t call her a can­cer sur­vivor.

“I don’t want to give can­cer any more en­ergy than it de­serves,” she says.

Hollingsworth, 37, won a bronze medal in the women’s skele­ton at the 2006 Win­ter Games in Turin, Italy. Her hero is her fa­ther, a sin­gle dad who she says “tucked me in ev­ery night and told me I was his hero.”

For Cs­abay, that was her mom.

“I have so much re­spect for her,” says Cs­abay, just 17 when her mom died of can­cer. “She was a tough, tough lady who en­dured a lot. I’m so grate­ful that I’m her daugh­ter.”

Soar­ing into the field are two re­tired air force pi­lots from small-town On­tario - Corey “Chewy” Lid­dle, 47, and Mark “Happy” LaVerdiere, 48.

LaVerdiere was a Lead Solo pi­lot for the famed Snow­birds aer­o­bat­ics team. Lid­dle was a pi­lot for the United Na­tions Hu­man­i­tar­ian Air Ser­vice. Both served mul­ti­ple tours in Afghanistan and took part in aid re­lief there, as well as in Haiti and South Su­dan.

As for their nick­names: “Happy” bares a strong re­sem­blance to, as he puts it, “a very hand­some ac­tor by the name of Adam San­dler.” LaVerdiere says he even golfs like the “Happy Gil­more” star.

An old hockey in­jury left “Chewy” with a lop-sided gait. That, and, at one time, a head­ful of shaggy hair and a beard begged com­par­isons to a cer­tain “Star Wars” Wookie.

Among the younger teams are Ar­gos cheer­lead­ers Leanne Larsen, 25, and Marielle “Mar” Lyon, 26. They’ve thrown their en­ergy be­hind cheer­ing for healthy and safe learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments in schools with the Toronto Arg­onauts’ Huddle-Up anti-bul­ly­ing pro­gram.

Lyon says she was bul­lied grow­ing up in Thun­der Bay, Ont. “The hard­est years of my life were from Grade 7 un­til Grade 10 or 11.”

The other teams in this sum­mer’s “Heroes” edi­tion of the show:

• Joseph Truong, 23, from Mis­sis­sauga, Ont., and Akash Sidhu, 22, from Bramp­ton, Ont., are the youngest team. Friends since high school and through their years at York Uni­ver­sity, they grad­u­ated to­gether and cre­ated their own non-profit char­ity busi­ness.

• Tay­lor Cal­lens, 25, and Court­ney Cal­lens, 27, are proud to be part of a Cana­dian fam­ily polic­ing legacy. The B.C., brother and sis­ter fol­lowed their fa­ther into the RCMP - the fourth gen­er­a­tion of Cal­lens to do so.

• Court­ney Ber­glind, 28, was a bar­tender and Adam Ko­vacs, 29, a fire­fighter be­ing auc­tioned off at a fundraiser, when they had their first awk­ward en­counter. The en­gaged cou­ple from Cal­gary are both first re­spon­ders, with Court­ney be­ing a nurse.

• Martina Seo, 40, and Phil Seo, 37, are a brother-sis­ter team from North Vancouver. The teacher and banker give to chil­dren in need all over the world, vol­un­teer­ing over 10,000 hours in Canada, Kenya, South Africa, Korea, Fiji and the U.S.

• Zainab Ansari, 32, and Mon­ica Demian, 24, are both mem­bers of the Royal Cana­dian Navy. The Greater Toronto Area res­i­dents are proud to rep­re­sent the amaz­ing women who serve in the Cana­dian Armed Forces.

• Dy­lan Elias, 28, and Kwame Osei, 34, are out to unite the youth of Fort McMur­ray, Alta., through athletics and foot­ball. The two, who met on ri­val foot­ball fields while study­ing in Nova Sco­tia, hope to have a pos­i­tive im­pact on in­ner city kids as well as those strug­gling on First Na­tion re­serves.

• Child­hood can­cer sur­vivor Todd Kirk and Anna Holtby, both 24 and en­gaged, have been friends since high school. Can­cer left Todd with no­tice­able fa­cial dif­fer­ences lead­ing to stares and teas­ing; nei­ther stopped him from be­com­ing a high school quar­ter­back.


Toronto Arg­onauts cheer­lead­ers Leanne Larsen, 25, and Marielle “Mar” Lyon, 26 are seen in this un­dated handout photo. On “The Amaz­ing Race Canada: Heroes Edi­tion,” pre­mier­ing July 3 on CTV, there are two re­tired air force pi­lots and Toronto Arg­onauts...

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