Last Thursday, I was strapped to my To Do list all day. By 3:30 I’d had it and needed some company, so I turned on Jeopardy! which makes me feel smart and then dumb in a rapidly-cycling question-by-question rotation. I love checking out the contestants and can empathize with their cocktail of excitement and fear, ever since I sat in the audience and watched my son participate in the Teen Tournament a couple of decades ago.
On Thursday, the returning 2-day winner was named Cindy, and there was something about her, a stillness and simplicity that kept me watching. She was compelling, with her big dark eyes and an unreadable intensity that kept me watching the next day, and the next. She keeps winning, sometimes fighting back at the last minute, making a bold bet in Final Jeopardy. She is up to $80,000+ now.
Now I know what accounts for her magnetic draw. When she competed, Cindy Stowell was already diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, on painkillers, and was fighting a fever. After passing an online screening, she contacted a producer to inquire how long it typically takes between the next step, an in-person screening and, if picked, taping the show. She explained her illness and offered to step aside if she would not have the time to appear. Her intention was fueled by her life-long dream to compete, and her interest in raising money to leave with the Cancer Research Institute.
She won again Monday, bouncing back after a poor first round, but we don’t know how long this will last. The show has revealed this much – that only a couple of producers and host Alex Trebek knew of her health issues. She taped in August, and she died a week before her first show aired. I’m not the only one riveted by Cindy as it turns out, as fans are watching, and donating to the cause in her memory. Join me today, 3:30 or whenever it airs in your town on ABC, to meet Cindy. Her boyfriend, announcing her death on Twitter called her a “badass.” If you are seeking the best of humanity lately as I am, I recommend Cindy to you.