A Saskatchewan family is hoping its heartwarming story will translate into victory as they compete on Family Feud Canada later this year.
Two of the six Wheeler siblings, twin boys, were put up for adoption in 1970. All six lived in Saskatchewan for decades without knowing they had siblings they had never met. This summer, they were reunited with their four brothers and sisters for the first time.
It all started when Todd Marasse, one of the adopted brothers, took an online DNA test. While his main goal was to find out if his son's hearing impairment was genetic, it didn't take long before a match turned up, linking him with a sister, Pam.
He decided to contact her. It turned out the Wheeler siblings who had remained with their biological parents had never been told about the adoption.
"She was like, 'You're going to have to give me more information,' " he said. " 'I don't know about any of this.' "
After a talk with her mother, Pam found out about her long-lost brothers. She quickly told the rest of her family.
"For the first few days, I was just text messaging back and forth with mom," he said. "Ever since then, it was like an instant bonding."
Kelly Wheeler, one of Marasse's brothers, said he was shocked when he heard the news and wasn't entirely sure he wanted to get involved.
That changed when he saw a picture.
"I swear, I thought it was me with long hair and eyeglasses," he said. "I was in shock for, like, two days."
Eventually, all of the brothers and sisters got together for a huge reunion.
"It was absolutely incredible," said Marasse. "It was such a feeling of wholeness. It just felt like we'd always been in our mom's arms."
Family Feud Canada
The story took an unexpected turn when the newly-unified family decided to try out for CBC's Family Feud Canada.
One of the brothers' wives thought the family's story would get them through the audition process and onto the show.
The brothers and sisters hauled out a canoe for the audition tape and told their story.
"We were pretty confident that the story being so unique and having such a good ending, we all thought it was pretty good chance that we'd get picked for the audition," said Marasse.
In September, all six brothers and sisters flew to Toronto to take part in a mock game as a tryout.
The show asked both teams to do a dance-off to see which team would go first. Marasse broke out his breakdancing skills.
"Todd did this, like, bucking bronco kind of move, jumping from his feet to his hands," said Wheeler. "It looked like he had been practicing that move for a lot of years."
While Marasse is confident their team will succeed, he said being together is more important.
"It's more about just having this experience," he said. "It's been amazing."
The family will return to Toronto in December for the taping. They will have a chance to win as much as $30,000 over three games.
Family Feud Canada will air four nights a week on CBC Television starting Monday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. CST. About 72 families will compete on air.