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Sonoma County family competes on ‘Family Feud’

When the Graves twins -- Mike of Windsor and Kris of Santa Rosa, 38 -- appear with other family members on the syndicated TV game show “Family Feud” Friday, Oct. 30, it won’t be their first time on TV.

“My twin brother and I were on the Food Network three and a half years ago and ended up winning 10 grand on a cooking show,” Mike Graves said. “It was called ‘24-Hour Restaurant Battle.’”

Neither Mike, a sales manager for a local trucking company, nor Kris, who commutes from Santa Rosa to his job with the Lodi Fire Department, owns a restaurant. But they learned to whip up impressive weekly dinners for 10 to two dozen family while their mother, Patti, battled cancer.

She died a decade ago, but Kris and cousin Lesley Soekland of Santa Rosa used the twins’ later cooking show winnings to establish the Mama Bear Foundation in Patti’s honor, to support families coping with cancer.

“Through donations, we help with anything a family may need -- rent, food, phone bills, registration for a vehicle,” Kris Graves said. “We were able to pay graduation expenses for a family. One of the ladies we were helping had a kid who was a senior in high school, and she couldn’t afford the graduation gown.”

The Graves family’s “Family Feud” episode -- featuring Mike, Kris, Kris’ wife Leasa, the twins’ younger brother D.J. of Santa Rosa, and cousin Lesley -- was recorded May 20 in Atlanta, Ga. The family’s original audition for the show was in early April.

An outgoing bunch, the Graves family had no trouble bantering with “Family Feud” host Steve Harvey, Mike Graves said.

“We got bleeped multiple times,” he said. “My brothers and I have good banter anyways, but throw Steve Harvey, who’s a professional comedian, into the mix, and it was phenomenal entertainment for the studio audience.”

The family’s not allowed to say advance how they did on the show or how much they won, but Mike did disclose the toughest question they encountered: “Name a word that starts with the letter Z.” The trick, of course, is to match the live audience’s pre-show responses to the same questions.

The show airs at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, on KPIX-TV, Channel 5, San Francisco. The Graves family plans a viewing party at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, at Annie O’s Music Hall in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square.

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @danarts.

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.

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