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'Jeopardy!' champion James Holzhauer donated to a cancer walk in Alex Trebek's name

Originally Published: 19 JUN 19 18:07 ET
Updated: 19 JUN 19 21:36 ET

(CNN) -- James Holzhauer, the "Jeopardy!" champion who won 32 straight games, earning a total of $2,462,216, has donated a portion of his winnings to a Chicago-area pancreatic cancer walk.

And he did so in Alex Trebek's name.

The popular "Jeopardy!" host publicly announced the diagnosis of his stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March. He's since said he's in near-remission.

Here's how it happened: During what would be the contestant's final episode, Trebek praised Holzhauer's daughter for a handmade card. "I want to express my thanks to your beautiful little daughter, Natasha, for having made this get-well card for me," Trebek said in the beginning of the show. "That was very sweet of her."

Ann Zediker, a resident of Holzhauer's former town and fundraiser in the walk, told CNN that she was watching the show and, aware of Holzhauer's connection to Naperville -- the champ is a former resident -- decided she would reach out and invite him to the 2019 Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk on July 14.

"At the end of the day, I had nothing to lose," Zediker, who lost her father in 2010 to pancreatic cancer, told CNN. "My heart told me it was the right thing to do."

Holzhauer told her he would be unable to participate in the event. However, he sent her a donation for $1,109.14. Holzhauer wrote the message, "For Alex Trebek and all the other survivors."

At first, Zediker was confused by the dollar amount. But then it dawned on her -- the number represented his daughter Natasha's birthday.

"There was no expectation on my end," she told CNN. "I was just thrilled that he responded. I knew that Alex's story had an impact on him, just like it has an impact on anyone who's working with a family member who's going through pancreatic cancer."

The walk is organized by the Lustgarten Foundation, which is the largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research. Pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates, and is an extremely difficult disease to overcome.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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Wabanubu 30 days ago
I'll probably come under fire for my comments, but here goes anyway. I don't understand why this is even a news story. I don't mean to be critical of James Holzhauer. He doesn't owe anyone a dime, so good for him. but the guy just won nearly 2.5 million dollars! In light of that fact, how is a donation of $1,109.14 newsworthy? Why not $11,009.14?

Let me put this in perspective. I am a retired railroad worker with a good pension. I gross nearly $48,000 per year. My house is paid for and I am widowed, so I have minimal expenses. In 2017, I donated $1,000 each to two widows of murder victims, and two victims of hit-and-runs, plus other small donations to a variety of charities. In 2018, I donated $21,000 from my savings to humane societies. I donated another $11,000 from savings to humane societies in 2019. I'm 63, and not in the best health, so what else am I going to do with it? All of my giving is done anonymously because I feel it's too easy for one's motives to become corrupted by positive publicity.

Please don't tell me I'm 'generous'. My question is, "Why isn't EVERYBODY doing this?" When Mr. Holzhauer's donation, which is less than 45 one-thousandths of one percent of his winnings, makes the news, it causes me to wonder what has happened to caring for our neighbors in our society.
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