Local family to be featured on "Millionaire" Family Weekend

By Brian Sweeney
Many of us long to be millionaires — especially when the bucks can be earned in a short amount of time by appearing on a television show. Margaretville resident Betty DeSilva, her daughter, Diane DeSilva, and granddaughter, Bree Ballard, recently had that opportunity while playing the first-ever family version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”
The episode on which they appear was scheduled to air on local NBC affiliates on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m. Viewers should check their local listings for times and channels.
The DeSilva family appeared on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” as part of the Family Week. Network regulations prohibit the participants from revealing the outcome of their competition.

First time theme
The Family Week shows marked the first time that three people played as a team in the hot seat with shows airing from Nov. 17 through 21. The show, now in its seventh season, is hosted by Meredith Vieira.
The three generations of the DeSilva family became contestants after Bree, age 26, was surfing the Internet and noticed that three generations of families were being sought for the show. After her mother and grandmother agreed to become contestants, Bree filled out an application online. A few days later they received a call to try out as contestants.
On July 12 the three women traveled to New York City to begin the qualifying process. After being given 10 minutes to answer a 30-question test, they waited to see if they would advance to the interview segment.
As other team numbers were called, the DeSilva family began growing disheartened. Finally, the last number was called and was theirs. They participated in one interview and then a second.
Then came three more weeks of waiting. At that point, a postcard arrived letting the family know that their names would be entered into a contestant pool. Another week passed before a call came notifying them that they were still in the running and would appear on the show.
On September 11, the family traveled to New York City for the taping. Only half of the dozen families who reached this point were chosen for the show.
New for this season is an “Ask The Expert” lifeline that enables contestants to connect with a pre-determined “Expert” via a live face-to-face video call on any question past the $1,000 level. The DeSilva family had actor Alan Thicke as their expert.
Betty’s husband, Middle-town Town Clerk Russell Schebesta, served as one of the family’s Phone A Friends to provide assistance, if needed.
Betty, who served many years as the Margaretville Village Clerk and is now treasurer/deputy clerk, was not allowed to reveal any details of the outcome. She did say that the experience was both nerve-racking and exciting.
Her daughter, Diane, is a graduate of Margaretville Central School and works as the academic administrator for English Language Arts at Shenendehowa Middle School in Clifton Park.
Bree is a Roxbury Central School graduate and works as a receptionist/tutor in Clifton Park.