Longtime "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek, who in his battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer has become an advocate for research and awareness, paid tribute Tuesday to a series champion who succumbed to the disease.
"It never ceases to amaze me," the 79-year-old Trebek said on Tuesday's edition of the game show, initiating this year's Tournament of Champions, "how attentive you, the viewers, are when you watch an episode of 'Jeopardy!' I'm sure many of you noticed on yesterday's program, and on today['s], with our three contestants all wearing purple ribbons. This is one of the symbols in the fight against pancreatic cancer," he said. "They are wearing them as a tribute to Larry Martin, last year's Teachers Tournament winner who shortly after the tournament passed away from pancreatic cancer."
Martin, a second-grade teacher at Belinder Elementary School in Prairie Village, Kansas, won the Teachers Tournament in May 2018. On Jan. 25, he died at age 61 of pancreatic cancer, leaving behind his wife of 30 years, Rebecca, and their daughter, Cricket. In his honor, the 15 contestants in this year's Tournament of Champions will wear purple ribbons.
"We want to just show that we stand in solidarity with him, his family, all his loved ones, in tribute, and also we want to show our support for everybody waging a fight against pancreatic cancer, including Alex," added contestant Gilbert Collins in the clip.
"We opened today's show with a special message about last year's Teachers Tournament champion, Larry Martin," producers wrote on the game show's Twitter account, adding that a "donation will be going to the Fred Rogers Center," the Latrobe, Pennsylvania-based foundation named in honor of the late children-show's host and producer, dedicated to child development. The center has not commented on social media.