After eight rounds of tough competition, Ingram Book Group’s Don Clayton claimed the title of 2012 Celebrity Bee Champion with the correct spelling of “extemporaneous” and “cholera.”
The Murfreesboro Post’s Dan Whittle came in a close second, barely misspelling “mezzanine.”
The Bee was filled with laughs and hundreds of Read To Succeed supporters rallying behind literacy. More than $58,600 was raised for Read To Succeed’s annual fundraiser, with more than $5,000 raised just during the last hours of the event. An audience member offered to donate more than $2,500 if the crowd could match the donation, which they quickly did.
Bee Sponsorship Co-Chair Shawn McFarland says that this Bee raised more money for Rutherford County’s literacy initiative than ever before. Funds from the Bee stay 100 percent in Rutherford County and support Read To Succeed’s adult tutoring program, in-school family literacy programs, ESL classes, and dozens of other events in the community aimed at promoting reading.
“This was Read to Succeeds primary fundraising opportunity for the year,” McFarland says. “With these funds, we can truly change someone’s life by giving the best tool one can have: the ability to read. Our sponsors recognize that RTS is making a difference in the lives of Rutherford County citizens and for that we are extremely grateful.”
Other spellers included Joey Peay from Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, Mitchell Mote, with University of Tennessee’s Agricultural Extension Service, Tina Patel, from Merck Vaccines, Mary Moss, with Women's Health Specialists, Whit Turnbow, MTSU’s head golf coach, Tom Vance, from First National Bank of McMinnville, John Pittard kindergarten teacher Jennifer Polk Whitlow, LeAnne Duffey, veterinarian and owner of Southern Veterinary Center in Smyrna, Susan Brennan, from Nissan North America, Dunk Eastham, with Tennessee Pediatrics, Cynthia Stroburg, with StoneCrest Hospital, Dean Hayes, MTSU Track and Field Head Coach, and Jewel Tankard, from Destiny Church.
WGNS’ Bart Walker was the pronouncer, with Diane Mackey, Gloria LaRoche, and John Rodgers judging.
Local law firm Kious, Rodgers, Barger, Holder and Kious, PLLC and Nissan North America, Inc. each donated $5,000 to the Celebrity Bee, funds that will support and help expand Read To Succeed’s family and adult literacy programs for the next year.
Donors at the $2,500 level include the Adams-Coggin Family Foundation, AT&T, Jennings & Rebecca Jones Foundation, Adams Family Foundation, Lamar Advertising, and Steve and Lara Daniels. $1,000 and under donors include Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund, Andy Womack (State Farm), Middle Tennessee Medical Center, the Daily News Journal /Gannett Foundation, State Farm, TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center, Colonial Pipeline, MidSouth Bank, Health Services Management, Inc., Dr. Liz Rhea, Ingram Content Group and Joe and Judy Powell.
$500 donors include Drew Mitchell, Mr. and Mrs. Hubert McCullough, the LaRoche Family Foundation, Ernest and Peggy Burgess, The Rogers Group, Andrew and Lisa Mitchell, Demos’ Restaurant, Brian and Kirsten Coleman, Bud’s Tire Pros, Financial Services and Solutions, Inc, John Barton, Jr. and the First National Bank of McMinnville.
$250 donors include WGNS Radio, Utpal and Tina Patel, Britt and Jan Mioton, A Renovation LLC, Smyrna Rotary Club, LaVergne Rotary Club, Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club, Noon Rotary Club, Edward and Victoria Jo Eastham, Mid-State Surgery - Leslie & Mark Akins, Joachim and Emily Zietz, Dempsey Vantrease & Follis PLLC, Ivan and Nancy Duggin, James Beach and Shervondalonn Brown, Middle TN Emergency Physicians, Chancellor Robert E. Corlew, Inside Sports—Jeff Jordan, Beverley Hamblin, Joe and Ronni Shaw, Bill and Rita Shacklett, Shawn and Bette McFarland, Reeves-Sain Family Medical Services, Rick and Charlotte Swafford, Pat McHale, Chantho and Bounnheng Sourinho, Wild About Smiles –Pediatric Dentistry, and John Murray and Elizabeth LaRoche.
In-kind donors include Bonefish Grill, which donated an “Excursion” meal for the winner of the Bee, Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department,The Murfreesboro Post, Murfreesboro Magazine, Middle Tennessee Medical Center, Shacklett’s Photography, and Linebaugh Library.
And it’s not too late to make a donation: $5, $10, $20 or any amount supports Read To Succeed’s programs any time of the year.
For more information on the Celebrity Spelling Bee and Read To Succeed, visit www.readtosucceed.org or call 615-738-7323.