Published: May 25, 2011 10:59 PM EDT
Updated: May 25, 2011 9:12 PM EDT

NAPLES, Fla.-With 44 million viewers a week, there's no doubt Oprah touched many lives.

Naples mom Jill Wheeler was one of them.

Wheeler made it on the Oprah Winfrey Show last year as an audience member. She appeared in a surprise "Favorite Things" episode, which aired in November.

"I love her," Wheeler said, tearing up as she watched that episode, which she recorded.

Wheeler walked away with $40,000 worth in prizes, which included designer clothes and jewelry, and the famous redesigned 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, but she said the experience of meeting Oprah meant the most.

"She's humble. She's funny. She's refreshingly self-deprecating," said Wheeler.

A longtime Oprah fan, Wheeler says the Queen of Daytime TV leaves a vacuum with the ending of her show.

"Her voice and her beauty, I mean, she's so radiant, but you feel her humanity," Wheeler said.

Naples teacher Michelle Hankey got a chance to get up close and personal with the talk show host last year.

She was teaching in Cape Coral when she was chosen to interview Oprah for an anniversary issue of O Magazine.

Hankey thinks life will be different for many without that familiar face.

"I think she'll still make a big difference in the world, but I think people will miss that daily connection," Hankey said.

It's the daily connection, Wheeler believes people will lose, along with the message Oprah carries to viewers.

"'I came so far, and I want everybody to have the hope that if I can make it -- everybody can make it,'" Wheeler said.