‘Jeopardy!’ champ James Holzhauer makes donation in Alex Trebek’s name to local pancreatic cancer walk

‘Jeopardy!’ champ James Holzhauer makes donation in Alex Trebek’s name to local pancreatic cancer walk

‘Jeopardy!’ champ James Holzhauer makes donation in Alex Trebek’s name to Naperville pancreatic cancer walk
‘Jeopardy!’ champ James Holzhauer makes donation in Alex Trebek’s name to Naperville pancreatic cancer walk. © Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

James Holzhauer, the recent “Jeopardy” champion who won a headline-making 32 games, made a donation to a local pancreatic cancer walk in the name of host Alex Trebek who is battling the same disease.

Ann Zediker, a resident of Holzhauer’s native Naperville, asked him if he was interested in donating to the Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk on July 14.

Like many people from Naperville, Zediker got caught up watching the record-breaking “Jeopardy!” run by Holzhauer, a former resident and product of Naperville District 203 schools. Holzhauer ended up winning 32 games and $2,462,216, falling $58,484 short of matching Ken Jennings’ all-time regular game total of $2,520,700 set in 2004.

Zediker understands the ravages of pancreatic cancer. It was the disease that in 2010 robbed her father of his life five months after he was diagnosed.

Ann Zediker stands with her father Phil Pagano, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2010. Zediker created the annual Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk to honor her father's memory and someday prevent other families from going through the same devastating disease. (Rick Ferris / Rick Ferris Photography)
Ann Zediker stands with her father Phil Pagano, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2010. Zediker created the annual Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk to honor her father’s memory and someday prevent other families from going through the same devastating disease. (Rick Ferris / Rick Ferris Photography/Chicago Tribune)

“Pancreatic cancer is one of the worst cancers out there,” Zediker said. “Most people aren’t diagnosed until the latter stages.”

Because of Holzhauer’s connections to both Trebek and Naperville, Zediker said she emailed Holzhauer to see if he’d be interested in participating in the 2019 Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk on July 14.

“My gut told me it was the right thing to do,” she said. “It couldn’t hurt.”

Holzhauer replied that he would not be in Naperville then but would be happy to send a donation, she said.

Pancreatic cancer survivor Marie Brausam, center, joins Naperville Councilwoman Patty Gustin in cutting the ribbon at a previous Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk. Also on hand for the event was emcee Brett Walkow. (Rick Ferris / Rick Ferris Photography)
Pancreatic cancer survivor Marie Brausam, center, joins Naperville Councilwoman Patty Gustin in cutting the ribbon at a previous Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk. Also on hand for the event was emcee Brett Walkow. (Rick Ferris / Rick Ferris Photography/ Chicago Tribune)

Holzhauer donated $1,109.14 — the numbers for the birthday of his daughter Natasha, who sent Trebek a homemade card — and left the following message on the donation website: “For Alex Trebek and all the other survivors.”

“I want to express my thanks to your beautiful little daughter, Natasha, for having made this get well card for me,” Trebek, who is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, told Holzhauer on the show. “That was very sweet of her.”

Trebek announced his diagnosis in March, vowing to beat the disease, which has a low survival rate, so he could continue hosting the show.

The legendary quiz show host made the “mind-boggling” announcement in May that his cancer is “near remission.”

Source Chicago Tribune


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