KANNAPOLIS, N.C. —
KANNAPOLIS — Noreen Reilly of Kannapolis didn’t even know her daughter was falling in love until she watched the events unfold on national television.
She tuned in each week to watch her daughter, Rachel Reilly, grow closer and closer to Brendon Villegas during the CBS reality show, “Big Brother 12.”
And the whole time, Noreen Reilly couldn’t even call her daughter to ask questions. Because Rachel was on the show and pretty much cut off from the rest of the world during filming.
“That was hard for me to watch” Noreen Reilly said. “It’s hard to watch your daughter develop a relationship on national television.”
Since then, Noreen Reilly has gotten to know Brendon Villegas, and watched the couple’s relationship blossom. Now he and Rachel are engaged. And the two are returning to television, this time competing on “The Amazing Race 20.”
The season premiere of “The Amazing Race 20” airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS, and will feature Rachel Reilly, who grew up in Kannapolis.
There is already a video up of Rachel and Brendon, talking about the show.
“We are so excited, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Rachel said. “I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m freaking out.”
“The Amazing Race” is an eight-time Emmy Award-winning reality series hosted by Emmy Award-nominated Phil Keoghan, which pits 11 teams, each comprised of two members, against each other on a trek around the world for about 25 days.
At every destination, teams must compete in a series of challenges, some mental and some physical, and only when the tasks are completed will they learn of their next location.
Teams who are the farthest behind will gradually be eliminated as the contest progresses, with the first team to arrive at the final destination winning $1 million.
Rachel talked about the team work her and her fiancé will have to use as they travel on the show.
“I think we have a great chance at winning the race together,” she said. “The two of us together, no one can stop us. No one comes between me and my man and no one comes between me and my million dollars.”
Kannapolis residents can tune in each week to watch Rachel chase after the million-dollar prize. Rachel may no longer live here, but her family still lives in Kannapolis, and when she comes into town they can be found at Concord Christian Church, where Rachel was a member.
“When she comes home, she still goes to church there,” Noreen said.
Rachel and her family moved to Cabarrus County about 15 years ago, Noreen said. The family moved to Kannapolis when Rachel’s father got a job at BBT, but the family didn’t want to live in Charlotte, opting to settle here.
Rachel was 12 years old when they settled in Cabarrus. She attended First Assembly Christian School and later graduated from Northwest Cabarrus High School in 2002, Noreen said.
After high school, Rachel attended Western Carolina University where she majored in chemistry.
After she graduated, Rachel was offered a job in Death Valley, Nevada, working for Chevron. She was performing research for water filtration kits for troops, Noreen said.
Over the years, her interests shifted and Rachel moved to Las Vegas to be an event planner. It was while in Las Vegas she did a casting call for “Big Brother 12,” Noreen said. That’s where she met her fiancé, Brendon Villegas, who will now join her on “The Amazing Race 20.”
“It’s very exciting, and you are very proud of them, that they had the courage to pursue that and do something that I would never have thought of doing,” Noreen said. “It would have never entered my mind.”
On the CBS website there is a clip of Brendon and Rachel together. During the clip, Rachel talks about the differences of “Big Brother” which has people voting if people stay or leave the show and how different that will be from “The Amazing Race.”
She also talked about what a great adventure it will be for her and Brendon.
“This is really cool for us that we get to work together,” Rachel said. “We’re not going to be voted out, and it’s based on us and on our skills alone and how fast we can run the race and how smart and streetwise we can be.”
Noreen said she is looking forward to watching her daughter compete and knows viewers will love her personality.
“Rachel is totally out there, she is hilarious,” Noreen said. “She is brave, she is fearless. You’re not going to miss her.”
For more information on, “The Amazing Race 20” and to keep up with former Kannapolis resident Rachel Reilly visit