Local Heroes

by Lindsay MacAdam

photography by mike ford

Have you ever found yourself watching a reality competition TV show from the comfort of your couch and thinking, I could do that? Schulich School of Business graduates Joseph Truong (BBA ’17) and Akash Sidhu (BBA ’17), best friends since high school and self-confessed superfans of “The Amazing Race” franchise, sure had. That is, until their bluff was called last spring when they nabbed one of 10 coveted spots on “The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition,” the show’s sixth season that aired throughout the summer.

“At first, we didn’t know how to react, and as it sunk in we just couldn’t stop smiling,” remembers Sidhu of the day they received the happy phone call in the basement office of his Brampton, Ont., home.

A month later, their bags packed, the anxious 23-year-olds were off to the West Coast to meet their competitors – RCMP officers, football coaches, mentors, elite athletes, first responders, advocates, retired Air Force pilots and Navy sailors. On the line was a grand prize worth racing for: two new cars, a trip for two around the world and a C$250,000 cheque.

What earned the young team their place on the show’s “heroes edition” wasn’t their day job, but their backstory. Truong, born and raised in Mississauga, Ont., of Vietnamese descent, and Sidhu, born in Winnipeg to Indian immigrant parents who later moved to the Greater Toronto Area, both shared a desire to make a difference in their communities from a young age. They became fast friends on their first day of high school in the most unlikely of high-school scenarios: while volunteering at a food bank.

The budding philanthropists both went on to enrol in Schulich’s Honours Bachelor of Business Administration program, where their end goal, too, defied the norm. “We wanted to pursue something with community impact,” Truong explains.

And they didn’t wait until graduation to begin their do-gooding. While at Schulich, the pair created a successful food drive of their own called Stuff-a-Bus, and nurtured their worldly curiosities through trade missions and study abroad programs. They also participated in business competitions like the Hult Prize, a launch pad for socially impactful student startups, to use their business savvy for global good.

All that good karma, however, wasn’t enough to secure Truong and Sidhu the win on “The Amazing Race Canada.” After travelling up north to Dawson City, Yukon, and all over British Columbia, a stress-inducing knot-tying challenge on the third episode of the show sealed their reality TV fate.

“Initially, it stung a lot,” admits Sidhu. “But despite all the adversity we faced during the race, we always supported one another. Looking back, I’m incredibly proud.”

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