Alex Trebek's Phone Call To An Autistic Jeopardy Superfan Gave Us All The Feels

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(Image credit: CBS)

Alex Trebek has been a fixture on the small screen for more than 30 years thanks to his role as host of Jeopardy. News of his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer shocked and alarmed fans everywhere, and the reveal that he was done with chemotherapy was shortly followed by word that he had to undergo treatment again. For Michael Kneeter, a 32-year-old autistic fan of Jeopardy, the news was enough to leave him very unhappy. Fortunately, his mom found a way to reach out to Trebek himself, and his response is worth all the feels.

Debbie Stevens, a pulmonary fibrosis survivor herself, decided that the way to cheer her son up would be contact with Alex Trebek. She reached out to Trebek via his son, Matthew, who runs a restaurant, and she appealed to him on behalf of her son. Her story is a touching one: she survived the diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis when she was expected to die within ten years, raised three kids after the death of her husband, and cares for autistic son Michael Kneeter, who also experiences epileptic seizures.

Matthew Trebek reached out to his dad after hearing Debbie Stevens' story about her son, and Alex Trebek made a call on October 18 that could make Michael Kneeter's dreams come true. Unfortunately, mother and son missed the call, leading Trebek to leave a voicemail. In the message (via New York Daily News), Trebek said this:

This is a message for Michael. 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.

Although Debbie Stevens was upset that her son had missed his chance to speak with Alex Trebek on the phone, the message isn't the end of the story. Stevens reached out to Trebek's son again, who promised to text his dead, and Trebek called again in a span of minutes for a ten-minute conversation with Michael Kneeter, in which Trebek apparently stated that he wasn't planning on leaving Jeopardy any time soon, which is certainly news that all Jeopardy fans will be happy to hear.

Alex Trebek did sign a contract back in November 2018 that would keep him on as host through 2022, so if his health improves, fans everywhere should be able to count on him continuing to ask questions in the form of answers. That said, he opened up earlier in October about how he was losing his hosting skills due to his cancer treatment.

One thing that Alex Trebek seemingly hasn't lost is his sense of humor, as he proved with his darkly comedic speech when he won his latest Daytime Emmy. For now, you can catch Trebek in action as host of Jeopardy when new episodes air weeknights. If you're in the mood for something less trivia-focused, swing by our 2019 fall TV premiere schedule for some ideas.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).