Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek opened the show on November 5, with a special tribute to former competitor, Larry Dean Martin, who passed away at age 61 from pancreatic cancer, the same type of cancer he is suffering from.
Trebek was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2019. He chose to go public about his battle because it’s one of the world’s deadliest cancers, and he was diagnosed at stage IV, which means it has spread to other parts of his body.
The veteran host told the audience that he and the contestants on today’s show were wearing purple ribbons in honor of Martin, which symbolize the fight to find a cure pancreatic cancer. Jeopardy‘s official Instagram put out the following message, “We opened today’s show with a special message about last year’s Teachers Tournament champion, Larry Martin. The donation will be going to the Fred Rogers Center. #TournamentOfChampions.”
Jeopardy! will be supporting the fight against pancreatic cancer all month to spread awareness about World Pancreatic Cancer Day, which is November 21. Trebek said in a PSA earlier this month, “Participate this November by wearing purple, spreading the word on social media and visiting worldpancreaticcancerday.org to learn more. Together we can get it done.”
Remembering Larry Martin, Who Never Got to Compete In the Tournament of Champions
Martin, won the Jeopardy! Teacher’s Tournament in May 2018, and taught second grade for nearly 30 years at Belinder Elementary School in Prairie Village, Kansas, before passed away on January 25, 2019. While competing on the show, he was known for alway being complimentary about his fellow competitors, and extremely humble.
Receiving compliments for his win Martin said, “In a just world, every teacher would receive this kind of attention and praise … for the difficult and important work that we all do.” Trebek said of Martin, “He will be sorely missed. It’s a big loss.”
The longtime educator earned an invitation to compete at the Tournament of Champions, which is currently taking place, and Jeopardy! put out a statement at the time which read, “We intend to honor his memory at that time, but until then, we will keep his name listed in the Tournament Tracker. It is with great sadness that we place an asterisk next to that name.”
Martin Is Survived By His Wife of 30 Years & Daughter
In Martin’s obituary, he is remembered by his wife, Rebecca Bell, and daughter, Cricket. He is also survived by his siblings, brother George Martin, sisters Susan Brown and Debbie Butterfield, along with numerous nieces and nephews.
A graduate of North Kansas City High School and University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he earned two Bachelor degrees and his Masters. Martin is most remembered by his students for creating The Marvel News, a school paper created, sold and delivered by his seven and eight-year-old students. Throughout the years, his young reporters landed interviews with President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Barbara Bush, Dave Barry, and of course, Alex Trebek.
After his death, Rebecca set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money for The Marvel News in his honor.
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