Four years of Read To Succeed’s annual Celebrity Spelling Bee has brought a lot of laughs, renewed commitments to literacy in Rutherford County, and essential funds for the local nonprofit.
WSMV's Larry Flowers spelling at last year's Read To Succeed Celebrity Spelling Bee.
The fifth Celebrity Bee , slated for Nov. 15, will be an "all-star" event, with past Bee winners and contestants battling for the championship.
Fundraisers working to make the event successful are already calling Kious, Rodgers, Barger, Holder & Kious, PLLC the big winners – the law firm is this year's main Celebrity Bee Sponsor at the $5,000 level.
"As lawyers, nearly everything we do depends on our ability to understand and communicate the written word. In fact, I cannot think of a single aspect of daily life where the ability to read and write is not essential. We believe that Read To Succeed is integral to the continued success of Rutherford County and are grateful for the opportunity to support their work," John Rodgers said.
Thirteen local celebrities will take the stage to spell at Patterson Park Community Center during the All-Star Bee, each risking possible humiliation in the name of promoting literacy. Five Senses will provide the Celebrity “Buzz” Dinner starting at 6 p.m.
Community generosity – with in-kind donations from Five Senses and Demos and financial sponsorships for the Bee – has allowed Read To Succeed to expand programming and services each year. One hundred percent of the funds raised at the Bee stays in Rutherford County and provides books, materials, training supplies, and literacy promotion for Read To Succeed’s family literacy and adult literacy programs, as well as necessary operational expenses.
"Our supporters know that if these Celebrity Spellers are willing to humiliate themselves by spelling in public, literacy must be important,” said Lisa Mitchell, Read To Succeed’s executive director. “Without generous donations like our $5,000 sponsorship from the law firm of Kious, Rodgers, Barger, Holder & Kious, we couldn't continue our work or grow our programs."
Community members are encouraged to pick a speller to support and to get friends, neighbors and co-workers to join in by donating any amount in their honor.
“We want people to come to the dinner and Bee, of course,” says Mitchell, “but even more than that we want people to help get the word out about these spellers who must think that literacy is important if they’re willing to get on a stage and spell. Promoting literacy is what it’s all about.”
Sponsorships of the 2011 All-Star Celebrity Bee are still available at all levels. Contact Shawn McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 738-7323. Donations may be made and tickets to the Celebrity “Buzz” Dinner and Celebrity Bee purchased at celebritybee.readtosucceed.org using PayPal or by check to Read To Succeed, PO Box 12161, 37129 for $50 per person.
Read To Succeed Executive Board Member Rebecca Upton of Dempsey Vantrease & Follis, PLLC says that she doesn’t know if people realize that a significant number of people in our community have literacy issues.
“I hope that prospective sponsors realize that the Celebrity Bee is Read To Succeed’s only fundraiser each year,” Upton says, “and it provides a large majority of the funds used to improve our programs. The funds raised at this event are utilized on a daily basis by the Read To Succeed staff and they are making a difference in our community.”
2011 All-Star Celebrity Bee Spellers
Previous Bee Winners
Previous Funny Folk
Master of Ceremonies: Don Ash
Judges: Donna Davenport, Larry Brandon, Diane Mackey