One more time, Grace Elizabeth!

News-DemocratOctober 6, 2013 

Steve Fuehne and family recently hit the road again, thanks to their video that went viral a couple years ago.

"We are at 2,100,000 hits on our video," said Steve, of Damiansville.

He and daughter Grace found fame after their 2011 ride on The Screaming Swing in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Steve was a reluctant rider. Daughter Grace, then 10, was gung-ho.

Steve's friend put the video on YouTube.

The line that caught viewers' fancy?

"Never again, Grace Elizabeth!" Steve said as the ride sent him reeling.

That led eventually to an appearance on NBC's "Today" show, the Jummy Kimmel show, and a flurry of other adventures. Film crews came out to their house to record. They sold the video to outlets here and abroad. They now have an agent and belong to Screen Actors Guild.

This time, dad and daughter, now 13, were invited to be part of a New York Life insurance advertisement.

The theme? Keep good going. And the words: When it comes to the ones you love, there's nothing you wouldn't do for them -- even if it's outside your comfort zone.

That's where the roller coaster came in.

"It was horrible," said Steve, vice president of mortgage lending for The Bank of Edwardsville. "It was called the Nitro. It went 80 miles an hour. It was fast. We rode it six times over a three-hour span. By the end, I was pretty nauseous, pretty sick."

But he couldn't pass up the action.

On Sept. 19, the family of five flew to Newark, then stayed four days at The White Sands, a Point Pleasant, N.J., resort about 65 miles south of New York City. Their mini vacation included lodging, beach time, a visit to the boardwalk, deep-sea fishing for Steve and son Matt -- and the day at Six Flags in Jackson, N.J.

Filming took place before the park opened.

"It was kind of like being in Walley World," said Steve, of the theme park in 1993's "National Lampoon Vacation." "The whole park was closed. That night was the first fright night. People were dressing up as zombies."

Among the folks they met on the set were another dad and daughter hired for the shoot.

"He was an actor," said Steve. "He had to go through open casting. There were 50 or 60 guys. Two auditions. He said, 'So, where are you from?' St. Louis area. 'You drove all the way here for this little job?' They flew me out. 'How did you get the part?'

"They saw the video and they called."

The Fuehnes -- Steve, wife Gwen, and children Grace, 13, Matt, 11, and Evelyn, 9 -- were to leave on a Thursday. Monday, they still didn't know where they were headed.

"All we knew was that they were flying us to the New York area and we were going to ride rides," said Steve. "Tuesday, I couldn't take it."

Steve asked for details, and learned about The Nitro with its six camelbacks, a hammerhead turn and a 540-degree helix. Whatever that is, it sounds scary.

"What helped (after the first time) was you know what's coming up," said Steve. "It goes up and dives 215 feet, straight down. like a free fall. It's very hard on the stomach."

How did Grace like it?

"She laughed all the way through it."

Son Matt was hired as an extra for the shoot. He earned $200. Daughter Evelyn was two inches too short to be part of it.

"She was OK once she saw the ride," he said. "She told me, 'I don't want to ride that anyway.'"

A short New York Life TV commercial, featuring Steve and Grace from a couple years ago, and other roller coaster riders began airing Sept. 1. They were told the print ads wouldn't be out for 30 to 90 days.

It's part of a New York Life series that will include billboard, magazine and social media advertisements.

"It was a still camera on the roller coaster, three shots per second, but they said it can play like video."

Stay tuned.

"I don't know," he said, "if a billboard will pop up on the Poplar Street Bridge."

You can view the commercial at the following link:

To see the YouTube video, search "Never again Grace."

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