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Sherwood woman is 'Wheel of Fortune' contestant

COURTESY WHEEL OF FORTUNE - Stacy Singledecker will fulfill a life dream May 5 when her taped 'Wheel of Fortune' segment airs at 7:30 p.m. on KATU Channel 2. She can't say how she did so fans will have to tune in to find out.Stacy Singledecker recently got a chance to cross another item off her “bucket list” — getting a chance to appear on “Wheel of Fortune” game show.

Not that an appearance on the iconic game show that’s been a television hit since it appeared first appeared in 1975 didn’t take some doing.

But last October, Singledecker got her big break when she ended up in line at Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City, joining another 1,000 “Wheel” hopefuls for a chance to appear on the show featuring host Pat Sajak and hostess/wheel-turner Vanna White.

By luck, her name was selected and she went through several mock “Wheel of Fortune” shows so that producers could see how she might do on the actual show. She was then told they would let her know if she advanced to the next level.

“Then I got an email,” said Singledecker, a 20-year Sherwood resident. “I was chosen for an audition,”

KATU Channel 2 will show the segment on May 5 at 7:30 p.m.

That surprised her, especially since she made it to an audition four years prior, knowing full well how astronomical it is to even get that far in the process. Of the 1 million people who try out for the show, 10,000 are chosen for an audition with only 600 selected to appear on the show each year, she said.

“I was really, really fortunate,” said Singledecker who got busy preparing for the show by downloading a “Wheel of Fortune” app to her smartphone and getting a video game version to practice on her Nintendo Wii.

She said she believes all the practice helps in preparing for the show, noting, “There’s definitely a strategy to the game.”

Singledecker said she practiced constantly before going to her downtown Portland audition, which included two “Wheel of Fortune” producers.

“It was fun but it was really intense,” she said. “There were 50 people trying out.”

The producers watched and later came back with their first cut and later a second.

“They said if they like you, they would send a letter,” said Singledecker, noting that the mailed letter was supposed to arrive in two weeks. She checked the mailbox daily and had all but given up.

Then on day 15, a letter with a “Wheel of Fortune” return address arrived.

“I started screaming and ran around the neighborhood,” said Singledecker, whose daytime job is running Breathing Room, an organizing and cleaning business, along with her business partner, Wendy Maguire. “So I knew if I got something, I’d been chosen.”

Too nervous to open the letter herself, she ended up at a neighbor’s house, who was also a huge “Wheel” fan. The letter said she made it, and reminded her that an appearance on the show would require poise and that she would have to be up to the challenge of being on national television.

“I knew I could get up in front of people,” she said, noting that being in a Bible study group has taught her how to speak when all eyes are on her.

With no qualms, Singledecker flew out to Culver City, Calif., on March 26 with her family for the show’s taping, paying for her own airfare and hotel. (Win or lose, each contestant automatically receives $1,000 to help cover travel expenses.)

Accompanying Singledecker to California was her husband Dave, a computer consultant, along with her two children, Matt, who is the sports editor of the Beaverton Valley Times newspaper (which is owned by Pamplin Media Group, publisher of the Sherwood Gazette) and Holly, who is about to get a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from George Fox College.

Still, it wasn’t completely smooth sailing, she said, noting that she caught a nasty cold that turned into laryngitis, something she still had when she flew to California. Upset that she wouldn’t be able to appear, she was encouraged by her family and friends to hang tough.

“(They) were so great to me. So encouraging,” she said. “It’s so important to have encouraging people.”

Singledecker and her family took a shuttle to the studio where they laid down some strict rules about not cheating. However, they were also upbeat, telling contestants, “We want you to do well. We want a good show.”

Then, as Singledecker prepared for the taping, she got to meet the world’s most famous letter-turner (or what is today a letter-toucher since everything is now computerized with touch-screen monitors).

“Vanna (White) came in the room where we were, in her jeans and T-shirt,” she said. “She was so nice.”

They also met the announcer, Jim Thornton, who was equally nice.

It wasn’t until she was actually on the set that she met Sajak, a lifelong hero of her’s who she described as funny, nice and very encouraging.

“It was a huge highlight standing next to Pat,” she said. “It was a dream come true.”

Slightly nervous, she gradually became accustomed to her surroundings until it was show time.

“Once the cameras turned on, I felt really good,” she recalled.

She even got a chance to get to know her fellow contestants really well.

So how did she do?

Under the rules of the show, she can’t say, simply encouraging everyone to “tune in of course.”

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