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"Jeopardy James" Holzhauer donates to pancreatic cancer research to honor Alex Trebek

"Jeopardy!" champ ends record-breaking streak
"Jeopardy!" champ James Holzhauer reveals secrets to his record-breaking streak 05:16

"Jeopardy James" Holzhauer made a donation to pancreatic cancer research in honor of "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek, who was diagnosed with the disease earlier this year. Holzhauer learned about a fundraising walk in his Illinois hometown and donated over $1,000 to it after organizer Ann Zediker reached out, she told CBS News in an interview.

Zediker was following Holzhauer's 32-game winning streak on the popular game show when she realized he was from Naperville, Illinois — the town where she's lived the last 20 years. She found him on Facebook and figured, why not invite him to the 2019 Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk?

"We were watching every day," Zediker said Thursday. "'[I said] I'm going to reach out to him. Maybe he'll come to the walk.' He was such an inspiration." 

Holzhauer, who now lives in Las Vegas, won't be around for the July 14 event, but he made a donation to the walk, which is raising funds for the Lustgarten Foundation for pancreatic cancer research. 

According to the foundation's fundraising page, Holzhauer gave $1,109.14 and said it was for "Alex Trebek and all the other survivors." Why the odd dollar amount? The digits correspond to the day of his daughter's birth. 

Zediker's mission is personal. Her father died in 2010 from the disease and started organizing annual walks to raise money to find a cure for it. "There's a lot of emotion tied to this cancer because it's so lethal," she said. "Typically, if we're lucky, one or two survivors attend." 

She hopes those who attend next month's event in Naperville will "have nice moment of healing and support." 

Trebek told People magazine in May that he is "near remission" less than three months after announcing his diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer — an illness with a five-year survival rate of only 9 percent. Trebek called his positive response to chemotherapy "kind of mind-boggling."

As for Holzhauer, he made over $2.4 million on "Jeopardy!" and outplayed dozens of other contestants,  but fell just short of Ken Jennings' all-time record. He spoke to CBS Las Vegas affiliate KLAS-TV about his play on the show after he was finally dethroned by Chicago librarian Emma Boettcher. 

"My number one feeling was if I had to go out, I wanted to go out against a top player who beat me in a straight up contest and not because I made a silly mistake," he said. "It was a true honor to go out on top having played against just an awesome player who couldn't be stopped."

"This was a wonderful experience that I wouldn't trade for anything," Holzhauer added.

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