The Dugan-Gorges Conference Center was buzzing on the evening of June 21 during the inaugural ICT Spelling Bee — organized by and benefiting Dear Neighbor Ministries.
Brenda Wasinger, director of development at Dear Neighbor Ministries, said Newman was a great fit for the event’s venue. The nonprofit is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph to help its neighbors in southeast Wichita.
“One of our committee members is Sister Tarcisia (Roths, ASC), and she was able to connect us to Newman for this evening,” she said. “As for the fundraiser itself, we were looking for something fun and unique that hasn’t been done in Wichita before.”
She said after a suggestion from a board member and some diligent research, they decided an adult spelling bee was a great idea. Teams could register for $500 and there were plenty of other ways to raise money throughout the evening.
“Teams can purchase ‘spelligans’ so they can have do-overs and re-tries as they go. Audience members can ‘rescue’ a team for a $100 donation if the team is out of spelligans,” added Wasinger. Other fundraisers were a 50/50 raffle and a bee-themed gift baskets raffle.
Included in the teams of spellers were Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., who captained the “Queen Bee Scholars,” alumni Tim Norton ’96, captain of the “No Miskates,” and Mitchel Whitmer ’15, who was with the “‘Hive’ Cessna and the Walter ‘Bee’ches” team.
Seven teams in total battled it out on stage as a team of judges called and verified words ranging from “sadly” and “mad” to “phrenologist” and “scrofulous.”
One of those judges, Gwynne Birzer, is a board of directors member for Dear Neighbor Ministries. She said she was happy to help with this first-time fundraiser.
“We’re hoping this will get bigger year after year,” said Birzer. “We watched some video of other spelling bee fundraisers across the country, and they were hilarious. This is going to be a very fun evening. I hope that people enjoy themselves so much that we’ll be able to do this again and again.”
Norton said Roths called him personally and he said, “Yes” right away. His team included his wife Susan, also a Newman alumna, and two of his dear friends, who “said they could spell but I never did a ‘spell check’ so I’m not sure they were completely honest with me,” Norton said with a chuckle. He added that he was “looking forward to a lot of fun — and other three-letter words — the easier the better.”
Carrocci’s team, the “Queen Bee Scholars,” whose members included Kim Parsons, Linda Davison and Rene Steven Brand, finished the evening in second place after a captivating lightning round to determine the top team.
Whitman said he was excited to be back on campus and “competing against the other teams was a lot of fun. It was a great time, benefiting a great charity.”