By: Jen Russon
A woman with deep roots in South Florida will grace the television screens of everyone she knows when she competes in the December 7 episode of the Wheel of Fortune.
Kelly Cheresnick grew up in both Coral Springs and Parkland and attended Coral Springs High School and Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Her father, Dr. Joel Cheresnick, is the face behind Coral Square Pediatrics, where Kelly worked for many years before uprooting to Southern California.
“Ten and a half years ago, I got on a plane to LA and never looked back. I had auditioned many times to be on the Wheel of Fortune, and an old dream finally came true,” said Kelly.
Kelly grew up watching Vanna White turn letters and Pat Sajak challenge guests. She said watching the Wheel of Fortune was her favorite pastime camped out in her grandmother’s living room.
Grandma Shirley also loved to watch the show with Kelly. Though her grandmother did not live to see a Cheresnick buy a vowel or spin that wheel, Kelly said Shirley was there in spirit when she competed for cash, prizes, and a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
“I wore a necklace — a family heirloom — during the taping. They do five shows a day, and I went first. I was so nervous. I held tight on grandma’s necklace, and it really helped me through.”
Kelly has more than just a brush with celebrities on an iconic gameshow to tout as an achievement. Her appearance on The Wheel of Fortune is a triumph in the aftermath of a serious eating disorder.
Treated for anorexia as a teen and having suffered a relapse just a couple of years ago, Kelly said having the courage to appear on a nationally televised show would have been impossible were she still so sick.
“If I were still deep in my eating disorder, I would not have been able to compete on a show like this. It would have been just another amazing opportunity I missed.”
Kelly admitted that as a kindergarten teacher in Encino, where she described the cost of living as “outrageous,” maybe she couldn’t afford to miss it.
Viewers won’t find out until Monday if Kelly still has to live paycheck-to-paycheck following her appearance.
“I’m not allowed to say how I did until after the show airs,” she said, confirming that Wheel of Fortune fans who register for a Spin ID stand to win big during the Secret Santa Holiday Giveaway, which her taping kicked off.
Held through December 18, winners whose numbers turn up are matched in wins with contestants on the show.
While she is contractually obligated to stay mum on whether or not she, and possibly someone clicking the remote on their grandmother’s couch, won the same things she won, Kelly could say this.
“It was an amazing experience and I am very grateful for it.”
To see how Kelly did spinning that iconic wheel, tune into WPLG (Local 10) on Monday, December 7 at 7:00 p.m.
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- Jen Russon has been a staff writer for Talk Media since 2018. She is also a novelist, copywriter and editor at the imprint www.swallowpublishing.com. She lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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