Smile Train joins with the rest of America, Canada, and the world in mourning the loss of Alex Trebek. While best known and loved as the warm, dry-humored, and unflappable host of the quiz show Jeopardy! from its syndicated debut in 1984 until his passing this past Sunday at age 80, his passion for knowledge was eclipsed only by his passion for giving back — and one of his favorite ways to give back was with Smile Train.
Alex first became a Smile Train supporter in 2003 and graciously lent his image and his unmatched authority to our work.
“I really appreciate the tremendous impact this surgery can have. It’s not often you get the opportunity to help someone so much… for so little money.” – Alex Trebek
His support went beyond just words. When he was invited to appear on Celebrity Poker Showdown in 2005, he chose to represent us and ended up coming in second place at his table, bringing home $5,000 — enough to fund lifesaving cleft treatment for so many children in need. That same year, he was the keynote speaker at a Smile Train event in Los Angeles along with Smile Train’s very first patient, Wang Li. In 2011, he even mentioned us on Jeopardy! when speaking about causes he was passionate about.
The admiration was mutual. As an organization devoted to training healthcare workers and helping high-risk children go to school, we considered it our honor to work with one of America’s foremost advocates for education and the love of learning for its own sake. Though he may have passed on, the smiles he created in living rooms across America and on the faces of children in need around the world will live on forever.
Thank you, Alex.