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Alum competes on ‘Race’

by EMILY SCHRANK | Monday, September 27, 2010

For Notre Dame alumnus Thomas Wolfard, this season of CBS’ “The Amazing Race” is especially worth watching.


Wolfard, a member of the Class of 2002, and his girlfriend, Jill Haney, are contestants on the Emmy Award-winning show’s 17th season, which premiered Sunday night.

“With our various travels, I really learned to keep an open mind at all times,” he said. “You don’t know where you’re going, so it’s really important that you stay open.”

The Amazing Race is a reality game show that follows teams of two around the world as they race against other teams in the hopes of winning $1 million.

Wolfard and Haney, who met in Chicago four years ago through mutual friends, said they submitted a video explaining why they thought they would be perfect and what made them qualified for the show. 

“We were definitely fans of ‘The Amazing Race’ before we were a part of it,” Wolfard said. “We were really lured by the overall experience and the challenges that came with it.” 

The couple, who lives in California, ran several times a day — sometimes with backpacks — in preparation for the physically demanding challenges, he said.

They also knew that communication would be a big part of the competition.

“We tend to get short-tempered with one another and we knew we were going to be on top of each other,” Wolfard said. “A lot of that has to do with the nature of the game though.”

Wolfard and Haney also said they discovered through their travels that people who are less fortunate are often the happiest. 

“Just having this experience on another level with your partner is awesome,” Haney said. 

Wolfard, a finance major who lived in Dillon Hall, said his study abroad experience in Toledo, Spain, as well as his Notre Dame education prepared him for the show.

“Notre Dame teaches you to be the best you can be and that’s something that has really stuck with me,” he said. “The large emphasis on service and helping one another is definitely instilled in each student.”

Based on his experience on the show, Wolfard said his biggest advice to students would be to take every opportunity that you have to see the world around you.

“Travel the world with an open mind, knowing there are different cultures, and always give people the benefit of the doubt,” he said.