Tragic and uplifting story comes to an end

Millions of Americans knew how this story would end.

A brilliant young woman competed on a popular TV game show while suffering from terminal cancer. She competed for nearly a week on the show, piling up winnings exceeding $100,000.

Then was dethroned as champion. Then she died on Dec. 5, a bit more than week before the taped episodes were aired. Her family, adhering to her wishes, donated her winnings to researching cures for the cancer that would take her life.

Her name was Cindy Stowell, a 41-year-old computer genius from Austin, Texas. She competed on “Jeopardy!” My wife and I were among the Americans who watched her compete and cheered for her every step of the way.

We were filled with terribly mixed emotions Wednesday afternoon while watching Cindy’s final appearance.  We wanted her to win. We also waited to see how the show’s host, Alex Trebek, would pay tribute to her after her run had concluded.

Trebek did so beautifully at the end of the show. I welled up listening him talk about Cindy’s “lifelong desire” to be a “Jeopardy!” contestant. Her story broke my heart and lifted my spirits, as I’m sure it did all those who followed her brief journey in the national limelight.

She was able to fulfill her dream and died a champion.

Godspeed, Cindy Stowell.

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