After taking down her competition with dexterity and celerity, Realtor Meredith Thomas claimed the title of 2018 Celebrity Bee Champion with the correct spelling of “clandestine.”
David Hoke from Ann Hoke and Associates came in a close second but misspelled “chandelier” by dropping the A. Tracey Biles from Saint Thomas Rutherford placed third.
Thomas, who works at PARKS Realty, wasn’t the only winner of the night. Chelsea Fancher was honored as the speller who raised the most money. Bill Wilson was honored as the speller with the most donors.
Read To Succeed Executive Director Jolene Radnoti and 2018 Celebrity Bee Winner Meredith Thomas
There were also a few brave souls who won high-end items like a week-long stay at Carillon Beach in Florida and club level seats to the Tennessee Titans in a newly added live auction conducted by 2017 Miss MTSU Kristen Perry.
But the real winner was Read To Succeed.
The Bee was filled with laughs and hundreds of Read To Succeed supporters rallying behind literacy at The Grove at Williamson Place. More than $66,000 was raised for Read To Succeed’s annual fundraiser.
“This year’s bee was a success,” said Jolene Radnoti, executive director of Read To Succeed. “We sold out. The community’s support of the bee is overwhelming. We are truly grateful for all the folks who help us support our literacy mission.”
Other spellers in order of elimination were Carolyn Tumbleson, MTSU Jones College of Business; Belinda Arender, IBERIABANK Mortgage; Chelsea Fancher, Senior Helpers; Jason King, Kious, Rodgers, Barger, Holder & King; Bill Wilson, PARKS Realty; Woody Wood, 107.5 The River; Mary Beth Hagan, Hagan Law Group.
Martha Touchton, minister of education at St. Mark’s Methodist Church served as pronouncer, with Janie Becker, Paige Hendrickson and Jeff Younginer serving as judges.
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.
The fundraising goal could not have been met without the support of valued community-minded businesses, individuals and foundations. These funds will support and help expand Read To Succeed’s family and adult literacy programs for the next year, Radnoti said.
Sponsors were Nissan North American, Ingram Content Group, Atmos Energy, Adams Family Foundation, Colonial Pipeline, Fred and Cindy Adams, Jennings and Rebecca Jones Foundation, Edward Jones, Joe and Judy Powell, Guaranty Trust Company, Murfreesboro Electric Department, Murfreesboro Housing Authority, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital, Rutherford County Farm Bureau, Mark and Jennifer Sharp, Don and Melanie Clayton, Dr. Liz Rhea, Senior Financial Advisors, Andy Womack State Farm Insurance, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Ole South Properties and Volunteer State Bank.