Record-breaking "Jeopardy!" champion James Holzhauer has made a donation to a pancreatic-cancer fund in honor of game show host Alex Trebek, who doctors say is in "near remission" from that almost invariably fatal disease.
The Naperville Sun, the newspaper for the Illinois city in which Holzhauer was raised, said Thursday he is pledging $1,109.14 to the Lustgarten Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk being held there July 14, with the donation in honor of "Alex Trebek and all the other survivors." The quirky amount is based on the birth date of Holzhauer and wife Melissa's daughter Natasha, one of several family dates that the mid-30s Holzhauer used for some wager amounts.
Naperville resident Ann Zediker, who lost her father to pancreatic cancer in 2010, was among the many watching Holzhauer, now a Las Vegas resident, on what would be a 32-game streak totaling more than $2.46 million. "There was an excitement, and I started following him on social media," Zediker told the paper.
She was inspired to contact him, she said, during what would be Holzhauer's final episode. The 78-year-old Trebek, who went public in March with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, expressed gratitude on air for a homemade card from Holzhauer's child. "I want to express my thanks to your beautiful little daughter, Natasha, for having made this get-well card for me," Trebek told Holzhauer. "That was very sweet of her." Zediker emailed Holzhauer about the cancer walk, telling the paper, "My gut told me it was the right thing to do."
"Former 'Jeopardy!' champion and Naperville native James Holzhauer made a generous donation to the Naperville Walk, raising disease awareness and additional research funding," the Woodbury-based Lustgarten Foundation wrote on the site for that walk, which aims to raise $90,000.
Holzhauer made charitable contributions throughout his "Jeopardy!" tenure, his older brother, Naperville attorney Ian Holzhauer, told WGN Radio in April. "Over the last few weeks, it hasn't been very public but he's been taking a lot of those winnings … and giving them to children's charities and food banks in the Las Vegas area and things like that. I appreciate that even though he may not be directly working with those causes, he still recognizes the importance of them."