The defending champions, representing Eastside School, said the word “trichinosis,” sealed their victory last year and, remarkably, the team never missed a spelling word for the duration of the hotly contested match. Although there is a growing competition among teams, the Eastside group contends it’s the opportunity to give directly to young children that inspires them to return for another round of competition.
The public is invited to support a worthy cause and watch 13 teams made up of the county’s best adult spellers compete on Tuesday, Jan. 27, at the Zebulon Theater beginning at 6:30 p.m.
A $2 admission fee is required and refreshments will be available at the concession stand. All donations acquired through admissions and sponsorships will go directly to fund book purchases for Grady County youth in the coming months.
Teams entering the 2009 contest include: Roddenbery Memorial Library, Rotary Club of Cairo, Southwest Georgia Technical College, Kiwanis Club of Cairo, Cairo/Grady County Employer Committee, Grady County Retired Educators, and all seven Grady County Public Schools are fielding teams.
This year, Grady County Ferst Foundation literacy chairman, Martha Fowler, is allowing Grady County’s top student spellers who competed in the 2009 county-wide spelling contest to join the adult teams to create more interest.
Fowler reports that about 80 percent of the funding for Ferst Foundation efforts throughout Georgia is acquired through individual donations. “We probably have 20 percent, if even that much, coming from private (individual) donations in Grady County. Eighty percent of ours comes through grants from businesses and government agencies,” says Fowler, who would like to see the trend reversed in Grady County with greater reliance on individual donations.
“We know that local city and county government are all pressed for funds. And as the economic situation worsens, the city and county may not be able to continue (contributions). But a literate community helps to grow that community – plus it increases school success for children who have been read to when they’re young,” says Fowler.
The 2008 adult spelling bee raised $3,250 and Fowler would like to surpass last year’s mark. “That figure would barely cover the cost of books for one month,” she says, reporting the book mail-out for January totaled 1,066 books. Fowler says donations to Ferst Foundation can also be made as a memorial or an honorarium.
Judges for this year’s event are Cairo Police Chief Keith Sandefur, Cairo Mayor Richard VanLandingham, and Grady County Jail Administrator, Capt. Tim Gainous. Michael Best will serve as the event’s MC and this year’s “pronouncer” is Dent Ward.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the program or register a child under five years of age can contact Martha Fowler at the Grady County Board of Education, 122 N. Broad Street in Cairo, or register online at: www.ferstfoundation.org. A $36 donation will supply books for a child for a full year.
Team sponsors for this year’s event include: Pollock Insurance Agency, Ameris Bank, Kiwanis Club of Cairo, Rotary Club of Cairo, United National Bank, Southwest Georgia Technical College, Capital City Bank, Cairo Eye Care, Grady County Golden K, Cox Pharmacy, Cairo High School Library Club, Park Avenue Bank, Richter and Company, and Porter Insurance.