Greers compete for $50,000 and hope to find long-lost relatives

COURTESY PHOTO - Joe and Madison Greer say that starring on 'Relative Race,' a BYUtv production, was a life-changing experience.Viewers can catch a Southeast Portland couple on a TV show called "Relative Race."

Husband and wife Joe and Madison Greer, who live near Mount Tabor, participated in the competition reality show, which features four married couples who race across the states in search of long-lost relatives. It premieres Sunday, March 5, on BYUtv, a service of Brigham Young University which may be available to those with Comcast, Dish, DirectTV, and other providers. Those without cable can access it through the BYUtv app on Roku, iOs, Android, Apple TV, Xbox and at

Joe Greer said the experience was "dramatically life changing."

"A lot of doors were opened and a lot of doors were closed," he says. "It was ... amazing, but extremely exhausting as well."

On the show, participants, armed with only paper maps, a rental car, a $25 per diem and a flip phone, raced up the East Coast from Miami to Boston, searching for information about their ancestors.

The show was filmed in only 10 days as the couples drove up the coast. Couples stopped each day to complete two challenges and find and stay with their relatives in each city.

"It combines this marriage of competitiveness of racing across the country but also an emotional note of meeting some family members for the first time," Greer says. He's unable to give much away since the show hasn't officially aired yet.

The Greers met one another on Instagram — a social media site for sharing photos — and have lived in Portland for the past two years. Madison runs a fashion blog, called

Joe Greer is originally from Florida, and while working at an art studio in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he was offered a position at a Beaverton church. Last month, however, he made the jump to full-time freelance photography.

Joe was alerted of the show because he knew a photographer who worked on the first season of "Relative Race" and suggested the couple apply.

"So we had kind of like an in. He knew us well and knew it would be an awesome opportunity to find some family and go on a little adventure," Joe says. "Madison and I are really adventurous, so it felt like a good fit."

What's more, Greer wanted to get to know his family.

"I have a lot of holes in my family and Madison pretty much knows all her family members, but for me it was kind of an endeavor to find more about where I came from and make some powerful connections," Joe says.

His mother died in a drunk driving accident that wasn't her fault. Adopted by his uncle, he never knew his biological father. He hoped to find his father, if he's still alive.

The show offered DNA research from Ancestry and AncestryDNA for participants. Greer says the show posed many challenges, including using a paper roadmap; "as two millennials" they were dependent on GPS. In the show, at the end of each day, the team that finished last received a strike. Teams are eliminated after three strikes, and those left travel to Boston for a chance to receive a $50,000 grand prize.

Calling from the United Kingdom, the Greers were excited to return to Portland to watch the show, although they will miss the first episode.

"It was one of the most radically life-changing things I ever went through. I got a lot of closure, and a lot of new relationships were formed," Joe says.

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