Oprah's 'number one fan' says farewell — in person

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on May 25, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Updated Thursday, May 26 at 2:13 AM

PLANO — Oprah Winfrey’s fans will never forget the outrageous celebrity moments and send-offs she got in her big shows taped last week.

And one woman from Plano was lucky enough to be in the audience. Cheryl Jackson describes herself as Oprah's number one fan.

She was one of 150,000 who were selected to attend the final shows.

"You're sitting right behind her and you can look in her eyes and you can see her gratitude for everything that's happening," Jackson said. "It was a surreal experience."

Jackson's first of 11 encounters with the talk show queen was eight years ago when she wrote for a local newspaper and went to Florida for Oprah's "Live Your Best Life" conference.

"And I said, 'I've always wanted to write. And I wanted to validate what you told us to do to pursue your dreams. So my dream is to interview you. Will you give me the interview?' And she said, 'Yes, I'll grant you that wish,'" Jackson recalled.

Jackson said Oprah inspired her to give back, so she started Minnie's Food Pantry in Plano, which is adorned with a quote from her role model.

"She challenged me every day to do better to give more, to do more," Jackson said.

Cheryl Jackson witnessed something fans never get to see: A huge after-party, giving her a chance to rub shoulders with the stars.

"In front of me is Oprah Winfrey. Next to her is Tyler Perry. Next to him is Stedman Graham. Next to him is Gayle King. Next to her is Maria Shriver. Next to her is Diane Sawyer," Jackson recalled. "Would any ordinary person think that they would get that opportunity of a lifetime? And it's to salute Oprah Winfrey."

Jackson bought something she will forever treasure from the store at Oprah's studios — a dress actually worn by her hero.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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