In the past week or so, we’ve been tracking the story of Cindy Stowell, the Jeopardy contestant who sadly passed away from stage-four colon cancer before her episodes went to air. She competed on the show while feeling the effects of her treatment and still managed to win six games in a row, which is an incredible accomplishment regardless of your health. Below she tells her inspiring story.
Tonight, sadly, Stowell’s run came to close. But her legacy—winning six straight games on America’s greatest quiz show while on painkillers and developing a fever that, according to the New York Times, caused makeup artists to rush out on stage during commercial breaks to clean up her sweat—is complete. She had pledged before competing that all of her winnings would go to the Cancer Research Institute in Austin, Texas, and now that fine institution will have $123,000 to add to their coffers to find a cure for this horrific disease.
“She really saw it as a personal challenge to test herself in this forum that she watched and loved,” her longtime boyfriend, Jason Hess, said on Monday. “She said going in that her main objective was not to embarrass herself. Clearly, she achieved that.”
Chelsea Cohen, a fellow contestant on her third show, said that no one knew of her true condition, though they knew Stowell wasn’t feeling well.
“I think everyone’s who been on can agree that just competing takes a lot of mental strength,” she said. Ms. Stowell’s condition “just made her performance even more incredible.”
Stowell was hospitalized with a blood infection after she taped her first four wins on August 31 and stayed in the hospital for a week before the next taping session on Sept. 13. Jeopardy staff sent her a DVD of her first three episodes before she passed away, which is a rarity for the show because of their embargo on results until the show goes to air.
Stowell became the 38th player in Jeopardy history to win more than five games in a row since the limit on victories was removed in 2003. She would have been eligible to compete in the next Tournament of Champions as well. But though she sadly won’t get the chance to play more of her favorite game show, Stowell’s story provided a great lift to spirits across the country for those who followed her inspirational story as her games aired.
Alex Trebek gave a heartfelt message after her final episode aired today:
If you would like to donate to the Cancer Research Institute, you can do so by clicking on this link.