The event? The 3rd Annual Stand Up For Education Celebrity Spelling Bee.
The cause? The Educational Enrichment Foundation, which provides support for Tucson Unified School District students in need.
Need? Yes, like shoes, eyeglasses, and other basic necessities that keep too many among us away from literacy, education, and o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y.
The celebrities? Contestants included first and second year champions State Sen. Steve Farley and Hilary Van Alsburg (Humane Society of Southern Arizona). Others on stage and spelling were People Magazine’s 2013 National Teacher of the Year Art Almquist, Supervisor Ray Carroll, Lucy Howell from mygirlpower.org, Congressional candidate Martha McSally, Jason Ott from Citibank, former school superintendent John Pedicone, Dancing in the Streets director Joey Rodgers, Club Congress boss David Slutes, Literacy Connects Executive Director Betty Stauffer, and Councilwoman Karin Uhlich. Tough competition!
Oh, and me! So, for the good great cause, I showed up. I spelled. And aside from the pain in my kishkes (guts) every time it was my turn to spell, I had a grand time.
The outcome? Hilary Van Alsburg can spell. She won the bee for the second time running. Martha McSally went out on sayonara, which was fitting, but she took home the second place trophy.
David Slutes, smart as a whip and funny as his father (my former law partner Tom Slutes), took fourth place honors. He missed ditokous.
Steve Farley, who I figured for one of the three final spots, missed extravasate, spelling it extravacate. (BTW, Word thinks it’s misspelled either way!)
I don’t recall how things went with everyone else, but I do recall that although Art Almquist’s wife saved him—as his lifeline—from spelling origami o-r-a-g-a-m-i, she mentioned sleeping in a wood shed or something like that. And for want of a second T on a now forgotten word, Ray Carroll went home.
And the one other “going out” word I recall? Mine, which was ocarina, which I spelled a-c-h-a-r-i-n-a. As Captain Renault told Rick Blaine when he found out the letters of transit were in Sam’s piano, “serves me right for not being musical.” An ocarina is a vessel flute, and the line is from Casablanca.
Oh, and who came in third? Me, and that makes for 2nd, 4th and 3rd place finishes for me in the three bees.
P.S. Belated thanks to Larry Sakin and the Sakin Foundation for sponsoring the event and making it happen, and to the three high school freshman/champion spellers who gave us our words.