'Amazing Race's' team of optimistic substitute teachers reflect on moments of 'deep human connection'

'Amazing Race's' team of optimistic substitute teachers reflect on moments of 'deep human connection'
by: Lindsay Zier-Vogel
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Out of all of the sights and adventures they experienced on “The Amazing Race,” Gary and Will hold most tightly to the moments of “deep human connection.”

The recently eliminated pair of substitute teachers who have known each other for 35 years reminisce about their favourite moments in a recent call with CTV.ca – a performance by Indonesian children in the sweltering heat, a glance from an elderly woman across a marketplace and even the bonds they created with other teams as the very best thing the race.

“We enjoyed it so much. It was the best experience of my life,” says Gary Wojnar, 52, from Livonia, Michigan.

“We started off bunched up together at the airport and all started (at the same time),” says Will Chiloa, 53, from Dearborn Heights, Michigan about the last leg of their race. “We got in a cab (in Dhaka, Bangladesh) and the guy said he’s take us on a short cut, and we were all excited, but it turned out to be a long cut and he took us way out of our way.

“We ended up taking the back roads and were in the middle of nowhere so we didn’t get to the first roadblock till everyone else was already there.”

On that first road block, teams were tasked with repairing a public transit bus with putty and then sanding down the putty to prepare it for painting.

“My cars always fell apart when I was younger, so I thought I was totally set. In Michigan, like in Canada, cars rust and fall apart!” says Gary.

“I figured Gary would breeze through this,” adds Will.

“It probably took two or three hours,” Gary says. “And we started behind everybody. We could blame the cab, but really, if I had been able to do it 45 minutes quicker, we’d still be in ‘The Race,’” says Gary.

The pair also thinks in retrospect that they could’ve saved some time choosing the other Detour that was next on the itinerary. They had a choice between working with a local blacksmith to hammer and beat an iron rod into a sharp spiked tool using 10-pound sledgehammers or making a cotton mattress using the traditional Bengali method, beating clumps of cotton into a fine, feather-like consistency, stuffing the mattress, and sewing it together.

The teacher team chose the mattress, but wish they had tried their hand at blacksmithing instead.

Even though they knew they were certainly not in the top three teams, the substitute teachers thought they were in the running at that point in the race.

It was only when they had to re-cross a river that took them an extra 25 minutes that they thought they might in fact be behind. “At that point we couldn’t catch up,” says Will.

“But you never know. Someone might’ve had a penalty, and there always could’ve been someone behind us. You really never know,” says Gary, exercising the eternal optimism that defined this team throughout the race.

Unfortunately, not even their optimism could keep them in the game and they were eliminated.

 “Just being on the show was a tremendous, amazing opportunity and we wanted to experience it all and represent the United States and ‘The Amazing Race’ with positive attitudes,” says Will. “We always wanted to leave a good lasting impression.”

“One of the things we’re most proud about it how we treated the local people we met. You know, you always see a few teams screaming . . . but if anything, it’s our job to know their language, not them knowing English,” says Gary.

The pair thinks the rockers, James and Mark have a good chance at winning ‘The Race.’ “They stick to themselves and make their own decisions,” says Gary. “Ultimately they’re responsible for their own fate and are playing a good game.”

“I like Ryan and Abbie, because their very determined,” adds Will. “They’re both very physical they’re both very smart.”

At this point it’s anyone’s game…

“Amazing Race” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV. Full episodes are also available online at CTV.ca.

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