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Chicagoans brave the wilds on new Bear Grylls show

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Updated: August 6, 2013 6:28AM

Chicagoans will be putting their survival skills to the test in an attempt to win $500,000 on NBC’s adventure-reality competition “Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls,” debuting at 8 p.m. Monday on WMAQ-Channel 5.

Two of the show’s 10 teams have a Chicago connection.

Vanessa Vazquez, 23, and Erica Franklin, 24, of Chicago will work side by side as they try to survive in the rugged landscape of New Zealand. Vazquez is the youngest of six kids (and the only girl). According to NBC, she grew up in a household where money was tight but the family bond was strong. She’s studying biology in college while working as a waitress.

Her best friend is Franklin, who lived in the shadow of her older sister until she sang in her high school talent show and people took notice. She works as a hairstylist.

The father-daughter duo Andrew “Lucky” Larson and Andrea “Louie” Larson hail from Stillman Valley, near Rockford. Louie, 24, lives in Chicago but grew up on a goat dairy farm, where she spent a lot of time outside with Pops learning how to hunt, fish, trap and skin an animal.

“I heard about the audition from a few North Central College faculty members,” said Larson, a 2010 graduate of the Naperville school. “They each told me they had an audition that I would be perfect for, and one of them told me I had to take Lucky with me.”

Her dad, 58, is a carpenter and outdoorsman who raised his daughters like the sons he never had. He was born on Friday the 13th, hence the nickname.

The show has the 10 teams attempting to survive in the wilds of New Zealand’s South Island, overcoming the weather, fatigue and assorted hardships as they travel as a group and try to avoid elimination, which happens to one unlucky team each week.

Grylls, a survival expert best known for the Discovery series “Man Vs. Wild,” will be watching the group along the way. At the end of each leg of the journey, Grylls decides who is sent packing. Only one duo survives the challenge and is rewarded with a check for $500,000.

Contributing: Jane Donahue, Sun-Times Media

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