Willing Hands spellers savor first bee victory
Self-proclaimed terrible speller Carol Carlson was more than excited after Monday night's Beginning Life with Books Spelling Bee — she was ecstatic.
Carlson jumped up and down and then rushed to the night's winning team, Willing Hands, after the annual community bee. The team had ended the Trinity Lutheran Reformers' five-year winning streak, and Carlson, founder of the local nonprofit Willing Hands and a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, said the two teams had a friendly rivalry for several years.
"The only reason Willing Hands exists is to raise money to fund the community, and that is what this organization is doing," Carlson said. "One of the big things the spelling bee does is build community. We have this wonderful spelling bee, and you find all kinds of people, young people, retired people, so this thing really builds community."
The winning team consisted of Hugh Moore, Lee Allgood, Shirley Pardue and Nancy Wyhof, and it was a "perfect blend" of avid readers for the bee, Carlson said.
"What a wonderful team we had," she said. "I couldn't be prouder, and I am just glad I didn't have a heart attack after winning."
The group plans on keeping the spelling bee trophy in Allgood's classroom as an inspiration to her Southern Lee High School students, Carlson said.
The Trinity Reformers team, which placed second, consisted of Joe Dilworth, Suellen Kennedy, Kendra Martin and Rebecca Tkachuk.
"It was a lot of fun," said Dilworth, the team's captain. "Every year was a treat, and we knew at some time we would be defeated. But it was going to a worthy cause, and the other team did well in previous years. We were glad to see them win."
Now in its 14th year, the spelling bee is organized by the women educators of Delta Rho, local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. The funds raised by the spelling bee help provide a copy of the children's classic "Goodnight Moon" to every baby born at Central Carolina Hospital. Since the beginning of 2013, more than 130 copies of the book have been distributed to infants born at the hospital, said the organization's Literacy Committee Co-Chairman Reinette Seaman.
"The book comes from a community organization, and that symbol suggests the community is supportive and wants that baby to be successful in a lifetime of learning," Seaman said.
The spelling bee also provides a fun activity for a range of individuals and groups, she said.
"The spelling bee is a way of earning money that provides an opportunity for fellowship, camaraderie and general good fun that provides groups [an opportunity] to gather that may otherwise not have that chance," Seaman said. "There are church teams, family teams, businesses and civic organizations that provide for this opportunity."
A new element for this year's spelling bee was the addition of four spectators turned participants. Pfizer sponsored two teams, but only had enough spellers to fill one team. While introducing each respective team, Seaman called out to the audience and asked which members considered themselves risk takers and adventurous. Spectators Margaret Ainsley, Debbie Daurity, Daniel Lewis and Jim Turner raised their hand and were selected to fill Pfizer's second team.
"It was a spur-of-the-moment idea on my part," Seaman said. "I thought maybe there were people in the audience who were willing to put themselves out there, just for fun. And, it turned out, they did beautifully."