“Jeopardy!” champion James Holzhauer, who had won more than 2 million dollars in prize money on the show after a 32-week winning streak this year, made a special donation to a cancer charity effort in honor of Alex Trebek, the show’s host, who is currently battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
The Chicago Tribune reported on June 18 that a woman in Naperville, Illinois, received Holzhauer’s donation for a walk to raise money to find a cure for pancreatic cancer.
The Naperville woman, Ann Zediker, told the Tribune that she was touched by a moment on Holzhauer’s last appearance on “Jeopardy!” earlier this month, when show host Trebek thanked Holzhauer’s daughter, Natasha, for making a get well card for him.
”I want to express my thanks to your beautiful little daughter, Natasha, for having made this get well card for me. That was very sweet of her,” Trebek said.
Zediker then reached out to Holzhauer and asked whether he would like to participate in the 2019 Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk, which she is helping to coordinate, on July 14.
“My gut told me it was the right thing to do,” Zediker, who is among a number of people coordinating the walk, said, according to the Tribune. “It couldn’t hurt.”
Zediker’s father had passed away in 2010, five months after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, according to the Tribune. Zediker said she did not know much about this form of cancer until his death.
“Pancreatic cancer is one of the worst cancers out there,” she said. “Most people aren’t diagnosed until the latter stages.”
Holzhauer reportedly replied saying that he would not be in Naperville but would be happy to send a donation, which he made of $1,109.14, alongside a message: “For Alex Trebek and all the other survivors.”
The specific amount reflects the birthday of his daughter, Natasha.
Zediker says a $100,000 goal has been set and hopes that more people become aware of the cause. She says she decided to work with the country’s largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research, Lustgarden Foundation, because it funnels 100 percent of donations to pancreatic cancer research.
“I’m just a Naperville mom, but I have to do something about this disease,” Zediker told the Tribune. “The only hope I have is research.”
Details about Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Walk, including how to donate or register, can be found here.
Trebek, 78, announced at the end of May that doctors said he was in “near remission,” the Tribune reported. The optimistic news came almost three months after he had announced he was diagnosed with cancer.
Early in March this year, Trebek announced that he was going through pancreatic cancer treatment in a video to the world. He vowed to “fight this” and asked for support from friends, family, and fans.
“And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease,” he said.
A Message from Alex Trebek: pic.twitter.com/LbxcIyeTCF
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) March 6, 2019
In early May, Trebek opened up about his struggles with chemotherapy on “Good Morning America.”
“My oncologist tells me I’m doing well even though I don’t always feel it,” he told GMA’s Robin Roberts. He added that while he’s used to dealing with pain, “what I’m not used to dealing with is these surges that come on suddenly of deep, deep sadness, and it brings tears to my eyes.”
FULL INTERVIEW: @Jeopardy‘s #AlexTrebek speaks out to @RobinRoberts after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis: “People all over America have been sharing their good thoughts, their advice, their prayers. And I feel it is making a difference in my well being.” https://t.co/ftmmqTXirE pic.twitter.com/tH1cdVQnsM
— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 1, 2019
Despite pancreatic cancer having a nine percent survival rate, Trebek seems to have been responding well to chemotherapy and is still surprised about his “near remission” prognosis.
“It’s kind of mind-boggling,” the 78-year-old told People magazine. “The doctors said they hadn’t seen this kind of positive result in their memory … some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent.”
Trebek revealed that he became emotional when he learned the news and cried “happy tears.” He also thanked his millions of fans around the world, who he credits with his success so far.
“I’ve got a couple million people out there who have expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy directed towards me and their prayers,” he told People. “I told the doctors, this has to be more than just the chemo, and they agreed it could very well be an important part of this.”
“I’ve got a lot of love out there headed in my direction and a lot of prayers, and I will never ever minimize the value of that,” he added.