The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Everybody Has a Story

August 10, 2011

Discovering the strength of family

Local family wins $10,000 in Pigeon Forge Family Challenge

GREENVILLE — What could be better than winning a free vacation to Pigeon Forge, Tenn.? Coming home with an additional $10,000 might do it.

That’s what happened to the Shreve family of Lone Oak, who entered into the Pigeon Forge Family Challenge never truly expecting to be one of five families selected. Other families hailed from Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Tennessee.

Melisa Shreve heard of the challenge through a sweepstakes site where she was a member.

“They were looking for a family that was active and had kids between eight and 17,” she said. “We had four daughters that fit that age range and time frame, however only two kids were allowed to compete. I knew we had to send in our video quickly because it was a voting contest, so we had a family meeting to see who was interested in competing.”

It was decided that Johnny, Melisa and their two daughters, Abigail and Rachel, would compete in the challenge and a video was quickly submitted.

“The voting was by far the hardest part,” said Shreve. “There were many days I spent 15 hours a day on the computer asking people to vote for us. The rules stated that only one vote per person 13 and older, per e-mail address, per day would be accepted, so we did what we could to get the word out around Lone Oak, at the middle and high school and via Facebook.”

All together the Shreve family received more than 4,000 votes in the 28-day period.

“It’s hard to describe the relief and joy we all felt surviving that first round of voting,” said Shreve. “We thanked God for strength as well as the support we received from many of our friends, family and even strangers who not only voted for us, but encouraged us to hang in there on the many days we were behind in votes.”

After surviving both rounds of voting and being told they were one of the families selected to compete, the Shreve family began packing for a week in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., courtesy of a $2,000 check sent to them to cover travel expenses.

“That money was a huge blessing,” she said.

The challenges the family would have to compete in were posted in the rules, giving them a chance to practice things like throwing toilet seat “horse shoes,” and study up on Pigeon Forge, country music and Titanic trivia for the “Advantage” trivia rounds.

Challenges mirrored regular vacation activities in the gateway city to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Challenges included a timed go-cart race at The Track, a stick horse race at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, a Zorb obstacle course and trivia test at the Titanic Museum Attraction. The final challenge was on a stomach-churning ropes course 90 feet off the ground at Dollywood.

“The challenges were a lot of fun, but the last was scary for the girls and me,” said Shreve. “We had never done a ropes course before, there were no practice runs for us, and I’m terrified of heights. We were told if we slipped off the ropes we would have to pull ourselves back onto the course and we couldn’t have any help doing that. It was very intense.”

They pulled it off, however, and in addition to winning the $10,000 prize, they also got the chance to meet Dolly Parton, who made a special surprise appearance to present the winner with the oversized check and trophy, as well as the runner-up with a smaller $2,500 prize.

“Our feelings when Johnny crossed the finish line were tremendous joy and gratitude,” she said. “It was such a feeling of relief to know we were going to be able to give the money to Rachel and that her first few years at Paris Junior College were going to be paid for. She has no money saved and we were in a position that many families are in where our household income was too much to qualify for financial aid, but not enough to enable us to save the thousands and thousands of dollars it takes to get one child through college, much less five.”

The family was extremely grateful that Pigeon Forge and companies like Upromise, who awarded their son a $25,000 scholarship three years ago, have used some of their advertising dollars to invest in the lives of families.

“We are grateful beyond words,” said Shreve.

The Shreve family gave 10 percent of their winnings to their church and the rest has been deposited into an account for Rachel’s college. She plans on attending PJC, though she is undecided as to a major, though she knows she wants to work with children in some capacity.

“It was awesome seeing the webisodes online,” said Shreve. “We didn’t realize how much nerves came to play in our facial expressions. Our family will be talking about this for years and years to come. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we are so grateful we got to be a part of it.”

The family plans on going back to Pigeon Forge, which was on their vacation to-do list for more than 14 years, before the start of this school year.

“We have the week filled with activity and since we have season passes, we are going back to Dollywood, too,” said Shreve. “We can’t wait. It’s the best family vacation place we have ever been to. There is definitely something for everyone to enjoy ... kids and adults of all ages.”

Johnny Shreve works at L-3 Communications Integrated Systems in Greenville and Melisa is a stay-at-home mom who cares for her five children; Caleb, Rachel, Abigail “Abby”, Rebekah and Sarah.

The Pigeon Forge Family Challenge webisodes, hosted by Patricia Lopez, can be viewed at

Text Only
Everybody Has a Story
  • John Hill cutout.jpg Throwing pots and smashing perceptions

    To look at John Hill, one might think he is the kind of man who spends the majority of his time astride a Harley, playing pool with his buddies or firing up the grill after taking a swig of his favorite beer.

    April 18, 2012 5 Photos

  • BRUNCH-Doing the walk.jpg On the wings of a dragonfly

    Kimberly Martinez of Wolfe City uses humor to get her through those tough days and does her best to impress upon her daughter, Katelynn, how important it is to stop and smell the roses.

    March 27, 2012 4 Photos

  • The Klepins.jpg Giving of her time ... and affection.

    Darcy, 4-year old, 140-pound Newfoundland, spends her Thursday afternoons visiting patients at Hunt Memorial Hospital District.

    March 19, 2012 2 Photos

  • YMCA.jpg Greenville YMCA celebrates 50 years

    The Greenville YMCA building will be celebrating 50 years of dedicated service this March.

    February 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • TO-BRUNCH-William Francey in front of flag-2.jpg From 'Hooyah' to 'Ooh-rah'

    Tears welling up in the eyes of a proud father tell more of William Francey’s success than words ever could.

    February 2, 2012 1 Photo

  • Susan Nyra cutout.jpg Traveling old paths to help others find their way

    Susan Neyra is the founder of Disciples 4 Christ Outreach, a non-profit ministry with a heart and a call to reach incarcerated juveniles, women and men locally throughout the state of Texas.

    January 17, 2012 1 Photo

  • Woodard cutout.jpg Woodard gets to the heart through the stomach

    Peggy Woodard believes the quickest way to a person’s heart is through their stomach and her family would most certainly agree.

    December 21, 2011 2 Photos

  • ANDREW-CUT.jpg ‘Grocery Butler’ starts business to deliver food

    Andrew Davis, 24-year old entrepreneur, saw a need in the community and sought to fill it by creating his own business.

    October 30, 2011 1 Photo

  • Bras for the Cause

    October 7, 2011

  • 7 Sunday BRUNCH-W.C.Hydick.1.jpg The art of business

    Walter C. Hydick has done a great deal in his lifetime, from traveling all over the U.S., capturing the beauty that he sees, to bringing companies back from the brink of disaster.

    August 16, 2011 1 Photo

Featured Ads

Does Dallas head coach Jason Garrett need for the Cowboys to make the playoffs during the 2014 football season to keep his job?

Who knows with Jerry Jones as owner?
     View Results
Must Read

See more photos and purchase prints here.

AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide