Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek said he’s continuing to rely on “God’s grace” and the prayers of others as he endures a second round of chemotherapy.
The 79-year-old TV personality made the comment during a phone call with 32-year-old Michael Kneeter, who has autism and is a big fan of the popular game show, according to the New York Daily News.
“I’m going to keep fighting,” said Trebek. “With God’s grace and prayers from people like you, and good wishes from folks everywhere, I’m going to come through like you.”
The phone call came about after Kneeter fell into a deep depression when he learned Trebek had been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. Eager to lift her son’s spirits, Debbie Stevens, a longtime survivor of pulmonary fibrosis, turned to the internet, searching for a way to contact the popular host.
After quite a bit of snooping, Stevens, who, despite her health issues, is rarely at a loss for words, learned one of Trebek’s children, his son Matthew, runs a restaurant in Harlem. Throwing caution (and any bit of pride she might have had) to the wind, Kneeter’s mom reached out to Matthew, offering him her best pitch for why his famous dad should talk to her son.
To Stevens’ surprise, her request actually worked. On Oct. 18, Trebek called Kneeter. But Stevens was in the bathroom when the phone rang, and her son missed the call.
Trebek left a voicemail:
My name is Alex Trebek. It is Friday, about 6 o’clock your time. My son, Matthew, who has a restaurant in North Harlem told me that you and your mom had been in contact and you’re fans of the show, and I just wanted to thank you for that, and I appreciate it. I hope you’re well. Maybe someday if you manage to get to Los Angeles, you can come to a taping of the program. That would be great. Hopefully, I’ll still be around hosting it.
Stevens said she was nearly in tears when she learned she and her son had missed Trebek’s call, so she reached out to Matthew one more time.
“He said, ‘Stay near the phone. I’ll text him,’” Stevens recalled. “And in less than five minutes, he called again.”
The Jeopardy! host stayed on the line with Kneeter and Stevens for about 10 minutes, the majority of which was filled with Stevens talking.
She described Trebek as an “amazing person,” adding she hopes to travel to Los Angeles with Kneeter one day to see the Canadian native host the beloved game show in person.
Trebek’s conversation with Kneeter and Stevens came just weeks after learning his first round of treatment was ultimately unsuccessful. He is now enduring a second round of chemotherapy, though he admitted during an interview earlier this month he is “nearing the end” of his life.