Nobody will have to remind Ali Veldhuis to watch “Wheel of Fortune” Thursday night.
A Burnt Hills native and Amsterdam resident, Veldhuis will be on the long-running TV game show Thursday at 7 p.m. on WTEN-Channel 10. She earned her trip to Los Angeles for a taping of the program earlier this summer when she performed well at the show’s Wheelmobile event held in June at the Racino in Saratoga Springs.
“It was so exciting to fly out to California and do the show and meet Pat and Vanna,” said Veldhuis, referring to co-hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White. “I’ve been watching the show for 30 years and I’ve always loved Vanna. I wanted to be Vanna when I was a young girl, and she was so nice. Both of them were very nice.”
A librarian/technology media specialist at Howe and King Elementary Schools in the Schenectady City School District, Veldhuis says she hasn’t spoken a word to anyone about how she did. The program’s producers require that contestants remain mum on how they fared until the show airs.
“I’ve had this secret for a long time, so I’m not supposed to say anything, but I can say that the whole experience was really exciting,” said Veldhuis, a 1993 graduate of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, when she was Ali Martin. “It was a huge thrill.”
Veldhuis said just the opportunity to try out for the show earlier this year got her excited.
“They didn’t say my name at the first audition, but then I got an email telling me they wanted me back for a second audition,” said Veldhuis. “There were hundreds of people there for the first event, but when I went back again there were only around 50.
“And, it really is an audition,” continued Veldhuis. “I had to smile, I had to make sure I looked good. I solved the puzzle at the second audition, and then I had to take a written test. It really was an audition.”
Along with being a regular viewer of “Wheel of Fortune,” Veldhuis is an avid crossword puzzle player.
“I do the Gazette puzzle every day, and I buy books with puzzles in them,” she said. “That keeps me busy, and I didn’t really do anything special to prepare for the show. I just kept on doing my puzzles and I continued to watch the show. I’ll be watching Thursday. It’s so exciting just thinking about it.”
Veldhuis appears on an episode during the show’s “Secret Santa Holiday Giveaway.”
Veldhuis, who has worked in the Schenectady district for 12 years, is married and a lover of animals.
Veldhuis follows Schenectady resident and WGY morning producer Rachel Davis in having the opportunity to purchase vowels. Davis appeared on the show earlier this month.
“Wheel of Fortune” premiered in 1975 with Sajak and White as hosts. The game requires contestants to solve word puzzles, similar to those used in the game, hangman, by spinning a large carnival wheel.
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