|Current "Jeopardy!" champion Cindy Stowell died|
of cancer before her big winning streak on the game show
began airing. All of her winnings went to cancer research.
At 6:59 p.m. each evening, Jeff bellows from the kitchen, "Time for Jeopardy!" and me and the dogs come running into the living room to settle down on the couch to watch and play along.
For more than a week now, we've been in awe of Cindy Stowell, who has won six straight shows so far.
For many reasons, she's just about my favorite contestant I've ever seen on "Jeopardy!"
Unfortunately, Stowell can't watch herself on the pre-taped episodes of "Jeopardy" As you might have heard from news reports, she died of cancer about a week before her appearances on the show began airing.
Early last year, Stowell passed an online test for prospective "Jeopardy!" contestants. She was invited to show up later for an in-person audition in Oklahoma City.
Stowell wrote back:
"Do you have any idea how long it typically takes between an in-person interview, the taping date? I ask because I just found out that I don't have too much longer to live. The doctor's best guess is six months.
If there is the chance that I'd be able to still tape episodes of "Jeopardy!" if I were selected, I'd like to do that and donate my winnings to....charities involved in cancer research. If it is unlikely that the turnaround time would be that quick, then I'd like to give up my try out spot to someone else."
"Jeopardy!" producers told her to show up in Oklahoma City and they'd do their best to expedite a slot for Stowell if she passed the in-person audition.
She did, and they squeezed her in early for a taping that started at the end of August. While she was on the show, only a very small group of "Jeopardy!" staffers and host Alex Trebek knew of her condition.
None of the people who competed against her were told Stowell was ill.
The fact that she did so well, winning episode after episode is made more incredible by the fact that during the taping, she had a blood infection and was on painkillers.
The results of "Jeopardy!" shows are a closely guarded secret and are not made public until after the show airs. I don't know how many more episodes Stowell will appear on, if any, after tonight's show.
But so far, her six-day winning streak has netted $103,803, which is all going to fund cancer research.
You can help, too. Take the "Cindy Stowell Challenge." Watch "Jeopardy!" and play along. Keep track of how many times you get answers you get right, and donate $1 for each correct answer to the Cancer Research Institute.
As you can imagine, I've become a big fan of Cindy Stowell. I admire anyone, who, in dire circumstances, just gives to other people like she has.
In an era with too many people who are too selfish and too mean and too angry, I wish there were more people like Stowell.
Her passing was a great loss for everyone.