What A Terminally Ill Jeopardy! Champion Taught Me About The Game Of Life

“Competing on Jeopardy! was a lifelong dream for Cindy, and we’re glad she was able to do so.” – Alex Trebek

For those that have always dreamed of winning it big a la Ken Jennings on Jeopardy!, or even just making it past the audition round – a recent six-time champ put some things into perspective.

Cindy Stowell first appeared on the popular game show Tuesday, Dec. 13, with one determined goal – to donate all of her prize money to organizations related to cancer research. She taped her winning episodes in August and September 2016 with Stage 4 cancer.

Eight days before the first of her Jeopardy! episodes aired she passed away on Dec. 5, 2016.

In her first episode, Stowell won $22,801 going on to win the next three games taped in Culver City, California, and on Sept. 13 winning two more games totaling her prize money to $103,801.

See Cindy describe her game show experience below:

This recent contestant story had me crying uncontrollably over the tenacity of the human spirit, how Cindy Stowell was a winner in all definitions of the word and made me want to do better with whatever unknown time I have left.

In early 2016, Cindy passed the online contestant test and received an invitation. Before the next step in the process she contacted the show with this message:

“Do you have any idea how long it typically takes between an in-person interview, and the taping date? I ask because I just found out that I don’t have too much longer to live. The doctor’s best guess is about 6 months.

If there is the chance that I’d be able to still tape episodes of Jeopardy! if I were selected, I’d like to do that and donate any winnings to … charities involved in cancer research. If it is unlikely that the turnaround time would be that quick, then I’d like to give up my try out spot to someone else.” – Cindy Stowell

The producers advised her to attend the Oklahoma audition and if she qualified to compete, they could book her for a taping as soon as possible.

Only a select group of Jeopardy! staffers and Alex knew she was ill. Her opponents were unaware of her condition.

Cindy had every reason to give up and go quietly but instead she chose to tick off a major bucket list item and pave the way for future disease sufferers to not go through what she did.

“When Cindy was in the hospital, Jeopardy! sent her advance copies of her first three episodes, so she and her family were able to watch her realize a lifelong dream of competing on the show. Jeopardy! also expedited Cindy’s prize money.” Jeopardy! Executive Producer Harry Friedman

Take a page out of Cindy Stowell’s book and live 2017 like it’s your last, because — spoiler alert — it very well could be. And while the debilitating fear of death could stand in your way, the freedom of now is the flipside to that.

I don’t know what happened to Cindy but I know energy doesn’t just disappear, and when I watch the long-standing show now it triggers a new memory – that of someone who never gave up, and whose spirit lives on indefinitely.

“Cindy came on the show with a mission. We gave her the opportunity to fulfill that mission and she made the most of it.” Jeopardy! Executive Producer Harry Friedman

Whatever your mission is, I hope you take steps to get closer to it.

If it’s on your 2017 Resolution List to be a Jeopardy! contestant like Cindy, start the sign-up process here, and good luck!

Featured Image via Twitter