Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

December 3, 2013

Local family competes on 'Family Feud'

Diane Raver The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Meredith Struewing, Sunman, and her family love to watch “Family Feud.” Recently, she and four of her relatives appeared on the show.

In addition to herself, the team consisted of her aunts, Lynn Struewing, Batesville, and Lori Hill, Greenwood; cousin, Emily Hill, Greenwood; and father, Bill Struewing, Sunman.

To become a contestant, “my Aunt Lynn had to write a story about our family on why we thought we should be on ‘Family Feud.’ She sent this to the people in charge of the auditions through e-mails. First, we had to try out at the Indiana State Fairgrounds (in April) .... Families were separated into different rooms.

“They randomly selected two families at a time to come up and play a mock game of ‘Family Feud’ with a fake host. They told us at the auditions one thing they were looking for was excitement and loudness, not necessarily the correct answers. If you did well in the mock game, the host would give you a card to a second tryout.

“Then, we went into a small room with the executive producer and cameraman.” They had to say their names and tell a little bit about themselves while looking into the camera. The producer “asked us to be very loud, which we have no trouble doing.”

They were picked to go to Atlanta, where the show is taped. However, the clan wasn’t even guaranteed a spot. “We had to go through a third tryout, which was another mock game with a fake host against another family. We were one of five families out of 10 that actually made it past the final audition.” The family flew down June 6, filmed the program June 7 and flew home June 8.

“Throughout the show, the production staff kept coming up to us, telling us we were doing a great job and to just stay calm, relax and have fun. They kept telling us to be loud and create excitement. They looked for families with a story behind them,” the teen reports.

“In our hotel rooms the night before, we practiced with an app on my phone that was a mock game of ‘Family Feud’ to see how well we answered the questions. We also quizzed each other on questions we made up that we might face.”

The show aired Oct. 23. “Even though we lost, we had a great time. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that our family will never forget. We had our cheerleaders back home – the rest of the Struewing family and our other families and friends – and we were proud of ourselves for getting that far. Not many people can say, ‘Hey, I was on ‘Family Feud’!’

“Outside of the show, the five of us had so much fun in Atlanta. Our family takes challenges in stride, and the experience was just so much fun, and I’m so thankful I got to do it with my family. Whatever we do, we always make it a fun time.

“We created so many memories from this trip. It was my Aunt Lynn’s first time on an airplane, but she was a champ even when we went through some rough turbulence! Everyone supported us, and there were so many people who tuned in ... to watch it.”

Host Steve Harvey “was very nice and funny. He talked a lot to the audience and contestants. He’s very well-dressed,” Struewing notes.

One of the challenges of the venture was deciding on what outfits to wear “since they required you to bring three extra outfits in case they didn’t like the ones you were in. Luckily, we were safe, and they liked our original picks.

“The producers never wanted you to give no answer. Just say something, even if you know it’s wrong. Also, whenever a family member would say an answer, you had to make sure to say, ‘Good answer!’ The fact that we competed against a family who had won four previous times in a row and were competing for a brand new car was a little challenging to go up against. But we didn’t let that get to us,” she recalls.

“Actually finding out we made it on the show was exciting. I remember my Aunt Lynn calling me and starting out by saying, ‘Could you please help me pick out an outfit? I need one for ‘Family Feud’!’ Then I started to jump up and down and scream. My cousin Emily was just as excited. On the car ride home from the audition, she told me, ‘I have a really good feeling about this, Mer. I think we should get T-shirts made.’

“I don’t think it sunk in until we were escorted up on that stage for our game. Then it really hit us, like, ‘Wow, there are the cameras. There’s Steve Harvey. And there’s a live audience watching our every move. We are really doing this.’”

The family had to keep the results of the show a secret for over four months until it aired. “We actually signed a waiver that said we would not tell anybody. It was very hard for all of us because people constantly asked.”

The young lady points out, “Last year, we didn’t even think ahead this far into the future because of my Aunt Lynn’s cancer. She is a survivor of Stage 4 lymphoma. She has been in remission for over a year. This made getting on ‘Family Feud’ even more exciting, especially for her. Her illness changed her for the better, and she wanted to go out and do as much as she possibly could, starting with things she had always wanted to do – No better time to start than the present.

“A thing that stuck with me during the show – on a commercial break while we were filming – was when the executive producer came up to us and told us, ‘Just relax and have fun. Lynn, you have faced much harder things in life. This is easy.’”

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.