Wendy Ingham knows how much her son loves Jeopardy!
The only time Patrick misses an episode is on nights when Troop 18 of West Grove, Pa. (Chester County Council), has a meeting.
Patrick is a Geography Bee champion, history buff and, in fourth grade, was voted by his classmates as “Most Likely to Compete on Jeopardy! and Win.”
Shortly after Patrick’s Eagle Scout board of review on July 9, 2020, Wendy sent letters to several people who are important to Patrick asking if they would send a congratulatory note.
One of those letters went to Alex Trebek, host of Patrick’s favorite show. Wendy says she followed the advice from this Bryan on Scouting post when writing the letter, which she sent to Trebek at the California studio where Jeopardy! is filmed.
“I followed exactly what you said to do,” she says. “I gave lots of details about Patrick, his project and his time in Scouting. I wrote about how much Mr. Trebek has been someone Patrick admired for many years. I also included a self-addressed stamped envelope, just in case.”
On Nov. 21, 13 days after Trebek’s death from pancreatic cancer, Wendy received a letter postmarked from Los Angeles. Inside was an 8-by-10 photo of Trebek and a handwritten note of congratulations from the Jeopardy! host himself: “Congratulations Patrick!” Trebek wrote. “You made ‘Eagle.’ Way to go.”
Given the timing of Wendy’s initial request in July and the receipt of the reply from Trebek in November, we know that Trebek wrote the note in the last months of his life.
“To think that Mr. Trebek took the time to sign this photo acknowledging Patrick’s accomplishment shortly before his passing, shows Patrick what an incredible, thoughtful and caring person Alex Trebek was,” Wendy says. “This will be a treasured keepsake for the rest of Patrick’s life.”
A Scouting life
Patrick, 15, started his Scouting journey as a 6-year-old Tiger. In the decade since, he has earned the Eagle Scout Award, worked at summer camp and become a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society.
For his Eagle project (which we included in a recent Eagle Before & After roundup), Patrick and his helpers painted a U.S. map, two hopscotch courts and two four-square courts on a school recess yard.
“I chose this project to help share my enthusiasm for geography with the younger students at my school, who I hope will take the lessons that they learn from it and accomplish great things,” he says.
That passion for helping others explains why, this year, Patrick was elected senior patrol leader of his troop. He says that role — and his entire Scouting experience — have helped him grow in confidence.
“Outside of Scouting, I’m a very reserved person,” he says. “Scouting brings out a new kind of me where I’m unafraid to interact with others and take a role of leadership. The amount of opportunities Scouting has given me to go out, meet other people and make a positive difference in the world is astronomical. That’s something I will never let go of.”
What is admiration?
Most Scouts split their time across a number of interests and priorities. For Patrick, this means trivia — competing against other high schoolers as he tests his knowledge of literature, STEM, history, geography and more.
Trivia aficionados like Patrick inevitably dream of climbing the Mount Everest of trivia: Jeopardy! Patrick watched the show religiously, soon realizing that Trebek wasn’t just a good host; he was a good human, too.
“He had a great breadth of knowledge and experience — but, more importantly, always had a cheerful, positive attitude and spirit,” Patrick says. “He always spoke highly of the world around him. That’s the kind of person I look up to with the utmost respect.”
Wendy didn’t tell Patrick that she had contacted Trebek to ask for a congratulatory note. That’s actually a best practice when parents request letters for their new Eagle Scouts: Why get their hopes up?
So when Wendy presented the letter to her son, he was floored.
“Alex Trebek was a person who I looked up to with great admiration,” Patrick says. “When I received the photograph and note, I was in awe that someone in such poor health was able to take their time to so graciously respond to what they felt was a very high achievement.”
We’re in awe of you, too, Patrick. To quote Alex Trebek himself: “Way to go.”