Richard Cunningham could be the next contestant on The Price is Right
By Leigh Ann Rutledge
KILGORE – “I would have won the showcase today!” are the first words uttered by Richard Cunningham Thursday when The Free Press Standard arrived at his home for an interview.
“The contestant bid $23,000. I bid $24,000 and the actual price was a little over $26,000,” he explained.
Cunningham, of Kilgore, loves the game show “The Price Is Right”. Feb. 27 and 28, he may have a chance to “come on down” and be the next contestant. He and wife, Judy, received tickets for the tapings from their granddaughter, Alexis Hileman and her husband, Brysson.
GIFT FOR GRANDPA
“This started when Alexis got me something for my birthday. She called her mom asking what she could do for Grandpa,” Judy explained. “Amy (Alexis’ mom and Judy and Richard’s daughter) told her Grandpa always wanted to go to The Price Is Right.”
Amy was actually joking but Alexis took it seriously. Alexis wanted to do something for her grandpa because his leukemia returned in October when he found a lump in the armpit area. He is currently going through chemotherapy and will have his last treatments March 2 and 3. He was originally diagnosed with Chronic Leukemia in the fall of 2014.
The Carrollton Bible Chapel Facebook page had a note from Pastor Chuck Wilson Jan. 7 telling the congregation they wouldn’t want to miss the service, writing, “It will be one they talk about for a loooonggg time…”
“We get to church and the heat isn’t working and the sound system wouldn’t work,” the Cunningham’s said. “They get the sound working and Pastor Chuck goes through the first part then says there is something he has to do before the message.”
Suddenly the music from The Price Is Right begins to play. The Cunningham’s grandchildren appear on the monitor telling Richard and Judy they are going to the show.
“It blew us away,” stated Richard. “Judy cried. I was in a daze. The congregation was surprised with many crying. They told us they couldn’t wait to see what I do.”
Alexis worked on the details for about two weeks and told her grandparents they would be flying out of Pittsburgh Feb. 26 to Boston, then head for Los Angeles. They will return home March 1.
Alexis and Brysson live in Salt Lake City, NV. As a member of a Christian rock band, they travel frequently and will drive to Los Angeles, CA, to meet the Cunningham’s and provide transportation for them during their stay.
Alexis informed her grandparents Jet Blue Airlines donated cost of the tickets for the couple. Other businesses donated gift certificates for them to use during the trip. They have certificates from Starbucks, Red Robin, Gourmet Burgers, Five Guys and Cold Stone Creamery.
They also have the opportunity to ride the ferris wheel on the Santa Monica pier.
“We don’t know where we will be staying just that Alexis has arranged lodging for us,” Richard said.
Prior to retiring 24 years ago, Richard taught in the Carrollton School District. During that time, he was able to watch The Price Is Right during school breaks and summer vacation. Since retiring, he watches daily, competing from his couch in the living room. “I don’t call him when the show is on because he will not answer a phone call from me or anyone else during that time,” Judy stated.
Richard remembers when the original host Bill Cullen, was on the show (1956-65); watched Bob Barker during his tenure (1972-2007) and now watches Drew Carey (2007 to present).
“I would like to have met Bob Barker. He was very serious, very business like on the show,” Richard said. “Drew Carey has a better sense of humor and seems to make the people feel more at ease on stage.”
The group is scheduled to arrive at the studio at noon and will be there until 5 p.m. They know they will be able to take pictures in a room before they go into the seating area. No pictures can be taken once they are seated.
What game is his favorite? “Plinko,” he quickly replied. “I would like to see someone win $50,000. I have never seen anyone win more than $20,000.”
He doesn’t study the games but does notice certain specifics in the games. “If you stop the thermometer about half way, your odds are pretty good to win,” Richard noted. “The price is usually not at the bottom.”
What if Richard does not get called as a contestant? “I will be satisfied to sit in the audience,” he said. “However, Alexis is determined she is going to get me on stage.”
Usually during chemotherapy treatment, patients are not permitted to fly. Richard’s oncologist discussed the situation with him during during his Feb. 3 appointment. “Thinking back, we remember Amy asking who my doctors were and didn’t think much of it,” Richard said. “My doctor knew all about the trip because Alexis had to fax information to Jet Blue. When I asked the doctor if I could fly, he said, ‘Yes. Have a good time’.”
“This is a once in a lifetime chance,” Richard stated. “If the doctor would have said no, I was going anyway. After all I am 75.”
The Cunninghams will return late March 1. Richard’s last treatments are Thursday and Friday. “I told the nurses I may have my eyes only half open during treatment,” he laughed.
“You never know what life will bring. Each day is important,” Richard said quietly. “It will be exciting to be there. Whatever happens, happens.”
Richard and Judy live near Kilgore. They have four children, Greg, Amy, Jennifer and Matt, 11 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.