By Greg Price
It was an experience of a lifetime for Taber barrel racer Nancy Csabay who hopes her journey on the Amazing Race is an inspiration to her family.
Csabay and teammate Melissa Hollingsworth were the sixth team eliminated from Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition.
It was a photo finish as the duo were eliminated by first responders Adam and Courtney as the series headed to Mexico City as Csabay got to explore different regions of Canada and Indonesia as well in her journey, doing many different mental and physical challenges along the way. It was a bitter-sweet moment for Csabay who wanted to continue to her Amazing Race journey, but also missed her husband Tony and daughter Kate.
“It was disappointing that we got eliminated but at that the same time, I had never been away from my family for that long. I had been away for five weeks with no contact, so in some ways I was eager to get home to the people who had been so supportive of me,” said Csabay, adding if any team were to eliminate her and Hollingsworth, she was glad it was by the engaged couple and first responders as fellow Albertans, feeling a kinship with the couple that felt like her children. “I was totally OK with them being steps ahead of us, it was so close.”
Along with friendships Csabay formed among competitors, she added that kinship spread to the production crew as well. Seeing all the hard work and dedication that went into the show from the producers to all the different crews made for a sense of family. Just as the show could be physically taxing for the contestants, so too was it for the crew.
“There were people with 50 pounds strapped to their back running ahead of us (filming)”, said Csabay.
Csabay was part of the last five remaining teams on this year’s Amazing Race and had to travel from P.E.I. to Mexico City where they had to master jai alai, complete either a face painting challenge or make a batch of pico de gallo, and then perform a scene in a classic Mexican telenovela.
It was Prince Edward Island Csabay noted as one of her favourite locales on her time on the show, with its breath-taking scenery and rich history. Locales included Beaconsfield Historic House, The Table Culinary Studio in New London, The Humble Barber in Charlottetown, CrossFire Paintball in Cavendish, and Blue Bay Farms in Anglo Rustico.
“The whole island was so beautiful. I’d rent a cottage and take my family there,” said Csabay.
Csabay’s fond memories of PEI were aided by her team finishing first in the leg of the race and the pit stop on a Cavendish beach saw the duo net a trip for two to Istanbul.
Csabay had glowing reviews of her teammate in Hollingsworth as the two were on the same page for many of the challenges they faced, with on-air bickering kept to a minimum. Hollingsworth was a national champion in skeleton within three months of entering the sport and also earned a bronze medal at the 2006 Turin Olympics. World Cup podium finishes have been commonplace for Hollingsworth.
Hollingsworth would also go on to compete in barrel racing and be a rodeo commentator at the Calgary Stampede which is where the two Albertans met ever so briefly. Not knowing each other very well on a personal level before entering the race made their relationship very unique from the other teams.
“We worked really well together. We hardly knew each other and I think that helped. I met her the one time when she interviewed me at the Calgary Stampede and that was like a two-minute interview,” said Csabay. “Neither of us had any outside baggage (with each other) that we were bringing into the partnership.”
Csabay and Hollingsworth faced their speed bump after arriving at the Beaconsfield Historic House. The challenge hit home for Csabay as the duo were instructed to cut hair for charity at The Humble Barber. Nancy and Melissa were tasked with shaving the heads of two girls named Abby and Virginia, who were donating their hair to make wigs for cancer patients who lost their hair from chemotherapy. The challenge held a close place in Nancy’s heart, as she battled breast cancer just four years ago.
That speed bump served as an inspiration for Csabay back in Taber shortly after her televised elimination. A fundraiser was held at the Taber Legion in late August.
“The Town of Taber really stepped up when it came to the fundraiser. I wanted to do something to give back to our community along with the wig bank of the Canadian Cancer Society,” said Csabay. “That is where Virginia and Abby’s hair went from PEI. We held a fundraiser and many, many businesses stepped up and donated prizes for our table. We ended up getting over $11,000 raised for the wig bank. I wanted the fundraiser to tie in with events that happened in the show and one of the episodes in Winnipeg happened at the legion.”
When you’re facing cancer and the challenges that come with it, it can be difficult to adjust to changes like hair loss. The Canadian Cancer Society’s wig room help women living with cancer find wigs when they lose their hair as a result of cancer treatment.
Since 2007, through a partnership with Proctor & Gamble Canada and the launch of the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign, over 1,900 wigs have been created, donated and distributed to women all across Canada.
The Canadian Cancer Society has wig rooms in various community offices across the country and supplies a number of cancer centres. Women can browse a selection of real-hair wigs, try them on and see if there is a wig that is suitable.
Having always been of fan of the Amazing Race in previous years of viewership, a main reason Csabay wanted to audition for the show as to be a strong role model for women, including her teenaged daughter Kate.
“I wanted to show other women anything is possible, especially my girl who is 13 years old. I wanted to get on there and show her and she can do anything at any age. To never hold back and run without reserve,” said Csabay. “To enjoy every moment that we are given because you never know when that moment is going to be taken away. I want women to know, no matter what age, what size, what nationality, it really makes no difference. Just go out and live your best life.”