'Jeopardy!' contestants organize charitable play-along to support Alex Trebek in fight against pancreatic cancer

Jeopardy! fans may have noticed the contestants in Tournament of Champions donning purple ribbons over the past few weeks — not only to recognize Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, but to show support for host Alex Trebek in his fight against the disease and to honor Larry Martin, the 2018 Jeopardy! Teachers Tournament champion who died of it earlier this year.

But now, as the semi-finals draw to a close, those testing their trivia knowledge on the long-running game show are upping the ante — by not only raising awareness of pancreatic cancer, but raising money for its research, as well.  

"That is why we are organizing a Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions charitable play along," champion Steven Grade wrote. "On November 14 and 15, tune in for the tournament finals and keep track of how many questions you answer correctly."

For each correct response the at-home viewers give, they are being encouraged by contestants to donate $1 to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

"Play one night, play both nights, donate an amount that is right for you, or help spread the word to Jeopardy watchers and non-watchers alike – every little bit helps, and every little bit helps to honor Alex, Larry, and all those who are fighting and have fought pancreatic cancer," Grade tweeted.

In March, the 79-year-old host announced that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Trebek's public battle with disease has caused an outpouring of support for the beloved television personality, including from former and current contestants. 

In June, James Holzhauer, who is appearing in the Tournament of Champions, donated $1,109.14 — a nod to his daughter's birthday — to the Lustgarten Foundation’s Naperville Walk. On the donation website, he wrote, "For Alex Trebek and all the other survivors."

Earlier this month, teen Jeopardy! champion Avi Gupta donated $10,000 of his prize money to the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University in honor of Trebek. 

On Monday night, during the Final Jeopardy! round, contestant Dhruv Gaur wrote, "We (heart) you, Alex," instead of an answer. While it cost him $1,995 and left him with only $5, the gesture caused Trebek to choke up.

"I’m really glad I got the opportunity to say to Alex what everybody at the tournament was thinking... for context, Alex had just shared with us that he was reentering treatment for pancreatic cancer. We were all hurting for him so badly," Gaur tweeted

"When Final Jeopardy came up, I could’ve tried to puzzle it together, but really, just kept thinking about Alex, and thought he should know," Gaur continued. "I’m just very grateful I got the opportunity to say what I know everyone was thinking. Sending all the love. #weloveyoualex."

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