Seneca student Carolina Miceli (left) and her twin sister, Maria, appeared on Family Feud Canada recently. (Photo: provided by Carolina Miceli)
Survey says? Seneca student wins big on Family Feud
Family donates winnings to Autism Ontario, uses TikTok to raise awareness
March 24, 2021
Earlier this month, a Seneca student and her family “played the Feud” and the winner was their efforts to raise awareness about autism.
Carolina Miceli, a student in the Public Administration graduate certificate program, and her family were contestants on CBC’s Family Feud Canada and won $10,000, a portion of which they are donating to Autism Ontario.
“We crushed it, I’m not going to lie,” Carolina said.
The Miceli family appeared in the show’s second season. The team included Carolina, her twin sister Maria, older sister Lauren, and parents John and Rita. The family from Windsor had hopes of winning but, more importantly, raising awareness about autism.
Carolina’s older brother, Giaci, has autism.
“Autism is a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts,” Carolina said. “It’s a spectrum disorder, which means there are no two people who show autism the same way. It’s a lifelong developmental disorder and there’s no cure.”
The Micelis went through a rigorous screening process, including submitting an audition tape, before being asked on the show, hosted by comedian Gerry Dee. Their episodes were taped last fall.
“It was my mom’s lifelong goal to be on Family Feud,” Carolina said. “Her godfather was actually on the American Family Feud.”
When the Miceli’s family and friends watched them compete on television, more than half a million followers of Giaci on TikTok watched him watch his family play the Feud.
Giaci’s reaction was then recorded and posted on TikTok, where Carolina and her sisters upload videos of him to educate people about autism. During the episode, Mr. Dee congratulated the family on their work and asked viewers to follow Giaci on TikTok.
Since the account went up less than a year ago with videos of Giaci doing arts and crafts, getting McDonald’s takeout, singing and various other activities, it has gained more than 13 million likes.
One of the first videos Carolina posted on TikTok was of her and Giaci painting a picture.
“He loves drawing and it’s something we have always done together,” she said. “The TikTok account was really started by mistake — we never had any intention of reaching more than 500,000 people. In the beginning, it was just me explaining how great and how adorable Giaci is. From there, people wanted more content of him.”
While Giaci’s cognitive ability is limited, Carolina says he loves seeing himself in videos.
“But I don’t think he understands how hugely his videos have resonated with people,” she added.
The Micelis have been involved with the Autism Ontario Windsor-Essex chapter for more than 20 years, organizing annual fundraising initiatives. Since the pandemic, they have turned to social media to continue their efforts. The family’s latest fundraising campaign has an ambitious goal of $200,000.
If there’s a silver lining to COVID-19 for Carolina, it’s that Seneca programs like Public Administration have been delivered online and she’s able to complete her studies without moving to Toronto.
“My life revolves around my family and my brother in Windsor,” she said. “My parents have done a lot of work with Giaci, but we all play a role in helping him at home. We are really fortunate to have strong volunteer groups with our local Autism Ontario chapter. That’s why we want to keep raising money to help autism.”