It's human nature - life throws everything it can at us and along the way, we develop a sense of success and achievement due to the way those challenges are handled.

But it's also human nature to be left with questions that create a longing, self-doubt, guilt, or regret.

For one Denham Springs native, a variety of questions about her parentage grew louder and louder the older she became.

"Who are my biological parents? Where do they live? Do I have other relatives I've never met?" rang heavy in her mind.

DeShae Hughes Pardon, a native of Denham Springs after being adopted at an early age by Sheree and David Hughes, knew that the Hughes family was not hers, biologically - but it didn't matter.

At least, not in her early years.

"I was blessed to have such a loving family," Pardon recalled, "I never felt left out."

What changed? Just a few years after marrying her husband, Chris, the pair moved to Ruston, for Chris' work. Not long after, DeShae became pregnant with her son, Houston, who is now 4 - and that set in motion a more frequent thought pattern regarding her past.

"There have been sporadic times in my life when I thought about (my biological family)," Pardon said, "but the thoughts were more consistent when I became a mother."

Rumor has it that companies such as Facebook and Amazon are always listening. As if they recognized her thought patterns, Pardon was hit with a advertisement on Facebook that simply asked, "Seeking applicant couples who are looking for family."

Pardon could tell it was a reality show, but wasn't really sure what all it entailed as the ad gave so few details. So, she recalled, as a "shot in the dark" she filled out the required forms.

"The next thing I knew, I was crying and spilling my heart out on a Skype interview with a casting director," she said.

DeShae didn't tell her husband or family in the beginning, as she figured there was "no way" they'd be chosen. But, her story spoke to the casting director and, not long after, she was speaking to the production company for a show called "Relative Race."

"Suddenly I thought 'Oh man, this could really happen,' so I told Chris," DeShae said, "and called my parents - and they gave me their blessing!

"They've been supportive since Day 1!"

Relative Race, which is now in Season 6, is a reality show on BYUtv. The premise involves four couples racing across the country to find family they've never met, with the hopes of crossing their finish line first to win $50,000. The last team to cross their end line for the day receives a strike - three strikes and "you're out."

DeShae and her husband make up Team Green, and they have both submitted DNA tests in the hope of meeting family they didn't know existed, up until the show was filmed.

Filming for Relative Race took place in the spring 2019. Both DeShae and Chris were given the full blessing of their families and employers to take this journey, and for good reason.

"Part of the challenge of the show is that you have no smart phone or GPS technology," DeShae explained. "The show was filmed consecutively and we had no contact with our friends or family during filming.

"We were truly unplugged from our daily life during that time."

During her pre-show interview, DeShae was asked where she'd like to visit and listed places such as Chicago, Seattle, and Charleston. Did she make it?

"I can't give away all the secrets!" she quipped, "you'll have to watch the show to see where we traveled."

Filming was 14-16 hours per day, and the show was shot consecutively. The Pardons said their portion of Relative Race was "brought to you by Kleenex and Red Bull."

The stress was worth it, for both Pardons, as they felt closer after the filming. DeShae was excited to meet new family and Chris enjoyed the travel but, most importantly, was proud to be there as his wife took in the journey.

"The most surprising thing of it all is that while it is a competition, we grew very close to the other teams," DeShae said. "We laughed and cried with them every day.

"We all share a very special bond through our experience and will be lifelong friends.”

Relative Race airs on Sunday on BYUTv at 7 p.m., beginning tonight (Sept. 22) and will run several episodes. Viewers can find it on the following channels:

  • COX - Channel 112
  • UVerse - 1567
  • DirecTV - 314
  • The BYUTv app

This will not be DeShae's (or, by extension, Chris') first foray into reality television. In August 2012, the future Mrs. Pardon appeared on The Learning Channel's "Say Yes To The Dress" show before her wedding the next February.

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