A life not of their own

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:17

    Sparta - Ever wonder what it would be like to live someone else's life, for just a little while? Living with their family, socializing with their friends, and following their schedule and routine? Well, Amanda Heckenberger from Sparta had that dream come true thanks to ABC Family's hit reality television show "Switched." Heckenberger, 17, was chosen for the show, almost immediately after completing the show's application. The producers were searching for a water skier, but not any water skier, a competition team skier. Heckenberger has been a member of the Ski Hawks water skiing team, for the past eight years, performing water shows on Lake Mohawk and competing regionally. Switched takes two teenagers and has them switch lives for four days. Both leave their friends and family behind and set out alone to, what for them is strange and unchartered territory. Neither knows the other, but both lead very interesting lives which are completely unfamiliar to each of the teens. There is a challenge of sorts usually involving an unusual, extreme or exciting extracurricular activity. Sound confusing, strange? It is, and that's what makes the show so interesting. "I had no idea where I was going or what my challenge would be. I walked into this clueless. The producers of the show really want to keep everything secret until you actually get to the other person‘s house," said Heckenberger. "I knew that someone was coming to Lake Mohawk to try to be a part of the Ski Hawks team, but that's all I knew at first." Who stepped into Heckenberger's shoes, or actually skis, was 19-year-old Brent Maimone, from Ohio. Maimone is an aspiring singer and actor, who is currently working on a new movie inspired by the TV sitcom "Bewitched." The movie stars Nicole Kidman and Will Farrell. In addition, Maimone is a professional motocross rider and host of the Nickelodeon show "Dirt." He's also been an "American Idol" top 100 finalist for two years. His challenge was to perform with the Ski Hawks on Lake Mohawk. Performing was not exactly a challenge for the young actor, but water skiing in a line with others, while performing the girls' ballet routine was. "All the kids came together and really taught him to ski. He got up on the skis right away, but learning the ' routine was definitely a challenge because they really do some difficult moves," said Heckenberger's father Scott, who spend a significant amount of the four days with the young Ohio actor."It was definitely a different sport than I was use to, it was a real eye opener. It was a lot of fun though, I had a blast and really had a great time with the whole family. Lake Mohawk is gorgeous, such a nice lake, I loved it," said Maimone. In the meantime, after arriving in Ohio, Heckenberger began her adventure first by meeting Maimone's family and friends, which she describes as "nice and easy and very welcoming." She was taught how to ride a dirt bike and soon learned that her challenge would be singing in front of a large crowd. But first she needed time to prepare. "I spent some time working with Brent's own professional voice coach, rehearsing a song that the coach actually wrote himself. It was such a nice song, I really liked it, but I think I might have messed it up," said Heckenberg, who performed the song at a local festival. "I was really scared, I've never sung in public like that. I had no confidence to sing before this, but everyone there was so nice and encouraging." At the end of the show both teens meet and exchange feedback about their experiences. Maimone stayed with the Heckenberger family an extra day to get to know the girl whose life he occupied for a few days. "We all enjoyed the experience and each other's company, I know we'll always keep in touch with Brent," said Scott Heckenberger, who describes his daughter as independent and strong willed and believes this type of experience was made for her. The hardest part of the adventure, according to Amanda, was leaving her family. "That was very strange for me because we always travel together. But actually, one of the most difficult things to do throughout the four days of filming was having to remind myself not to look at the camera. That was hard!" The "Switched" program is scheduled to air today, Thursday Nov. 11 on the ABC Family at 12:30 pm. Check your local listing for channel and schedule.