“Jeopardy!” champion Avi Gupta is putting his money where his mouth is.
The Columbia University first-year student took home $100,000 on the show this summer and announced in a video on Twitter last week that he would donate $10,000 to the Night Cancer Institute in honor of the venerable host Alex Trebek, who is battling pancreatic cancer.
“I was inspired to give by Alex Trebek, the host of ‘Jeopardy!’ and someone who I have looked up to my whole life,” said Gupta, 18. “It was a dream come true earlier this year to finally join him on the ‘Jeopardy!’ stage and the ‘Jeopardy!’ teen tournament.”
“I am honored to be able to make this donation to the Knight Cancer Institute to support him and the millions of other people suffering from pancreatic cancer across the world,” Gupta added. “Our goal with this campaign is to support research into pancreatic cancer awareness and early detection.”
In his Twitter post, the Ivy Leaguer put out a call to action in honor of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month for others to join him in donating to the cause.
Trebek, 79, shocked the world when he revealed his cancer diagnosis in March in a video message to fans. After harrowing through months of chemotherapy treatment, the Emmy-winning host said he was on the mend and had completed his treatment, telling fans he was doing much better.
However, just one month later Trebek, announced on “Good Morning America” that he had resumed chemotherapy. The esteemed host said not long after he filmed his message that he was finished with treatment, he lost a considerable amount of weight, spurring his doctors to order another round of the debilitating treatment.
“I was doing so well and my numbers went down to the equivalent of a normal human being who does not have pancreatic cancer, so we were all very optimistic,” Trebek lamented. “They said, ‘Good, we’re going to stop chemo, we’ll start you on immunotherapy,’ and I lost about 12 lbs. in a week and my numbers went sky-high, much higher than they were when I was first diagnosed.”
Trebek maintained that “cancer is mysterious in more ways than one,” adding: “It has different effects on you.”
“For some reason, and I don’t understand why, occasionally it will cause excruciating pain in my lower back,” he explained. “Other times it’s fatigue, other times it’s nausea. It varies.”
“My hair started to grow back, but now I have to undergo chemo again, so what little hair I have grown is going to disappear again,” he added. “In terms of getting my strength back, that hasn’t happened, unfortunately.”
Trebek said battling through his diagnosis has been emotional, complete with the occasional bout of “sadness and depression.”
“It doesn’t last very long but it just takes over my whole being for a short period of time,” Trebek explained. “I understand it more now so I can deal with it a lot better now than I did before.”