Tampa Bay moms hope to run amazing online race
A couple of Tampa Bay moms are piling up Facebook friends and Twitter followers to embark on a web-based reality show from the producers of The Amazing Race.
Melanie Ellis, 33, at left, of Lithia and Kristen Previtera, 41, of Valrico have formed the team "SuperMoms" and are finalists in Ford's search for teams to compete in Focus Rally: America. The teams will take on Amazing Race-style challenges driving a Ford Focus across the country for five weeks. The trick is they have to leverage their social network to complete. The winning team will receive a $100,000 prize and a new car.
They answered a casting call at Jackson's Bistro last month and within a few days they had a second call to meet with casting directors in Orlando and by week's end had an email congratuling them on being finalists. Now they have to get their social network humming.
"We had a minimum requirement of 800 friends on Facebook and 100 followers on Twitter. We have fulfulled those two requirements, but still need help," Melanie told us. "We have a blog and website, which are updated on a regular basis as well as our Facebook status."
Ellis, whose parents both have leukemia, said the two women picked their favorite charities to benefit if they win, "not that we couldn't use the money ourselves but feel there is a greater purpose to all this and it's money we wouldn't have had so why not put it to good use?"
The two women have only known each other a few months, but hit it off since they are both athletes who run in marathons and realized their competitive streaks could be a big advantage. They have a camera-friendly looks and the kind of back story casting directors love. Ellis is a Navy vet and an LPN with an 11 year old daughter and a 9 year old son. Previtera, a former cop, is a personal trainer who competes in Iron Man events and has three kids, ages 12, 10 and 5.
"We're hoping other moms will see what we are doing and realize it's important to let being a mom be part of who you are, but still be yourself. Do things that interest you," Ellis said. "You can prove things to yourself as well as your kid. I hope there's a single mom out there who sees us and thinks, 'There's hope.' "
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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PHOTO: Team SuperMoms Melanie Ellis, left, and Kristen Previtera