By PATRICK MAIRS, Associated Press
Faced with a terminal diagnosis in her battle against colon cancer, Cindy Stowell saw an appearance on “Jeopardy!” in her final months as a “good opportunity” to help others struggling against the disease by donating money she might win to cancer research.
She made the most of it by winning six nights in a row and more than $103,000 in a run that ended on Wednesday’s episode.
The Austin, Texas, woman died Dec. 5 at the age of 41, eight days before her first appearance aired on Dec. 13. “Jeopardy!” sent her advance copies of three of her appearances so she could watch them in the hospital, the show said in a statement . It also expedited getting her winnings to her.
Before her August audition for the show, Stowell emailed a “Jeopardy!” producer that she didn’t have long to live and that if she were selected she’d like to donate any winnings to charities involved in cancer research.
She passed the audition and was booked for the first available taping on Aug.31, “Jeopardy!” said. She won four games taped that day and returned for a Sept. 13 taping. She won two more games before finishing second in her final appearance.
Alex Trebek paid tribute to Stowell on Wednesday’s program. The “Jeopardy!” host called her appearance “a fulfillment of a lifelong ambition.”
The show’s executive producer, Harry Friedman, added in a statement: “Cindy came on the show with a mission. We gave her the opportunity to fulfill that mission and she made the most of it.”
In a video released by the show Wednesday night, Stowell called her appearance “a line in the sand” that she drew in her battle against the disease.
“I’m dying of cancer,” she said. “I really want the money that I win to be used to help others and so this seems like a good opportunity,”
The Cancer Research Institute tweeted its thanks to Stowell on Wednesday for donating winnings and inspiring others to do the same.
Stowell came from behind to win several times during her run, which she said made the experience stressful, yet fun.
“Even when you think the odds are completely against you somehow you know, via luck or something, things can work out.”