Well the words have all been spelt. Donations of generous proportions have been made. And a champion, re-crowned. Our OnPoint Community Credit Union presented by Comcast is officially over. And as the confetti finally begins to settle, it’s now time for us to take a look back and review some of the evening’s highlights, as well as it’s extraordinary outcome.
Perhaps one of the biggest stories to come out of Thursday night was that of the performance of our boy over at NewChannel 8, Reggie Aqui. The now three-year vet of the Spelling Bee entered the contest having always been one of the first spellers out. But this year, Aqui stepped up his game. Sometimes it was skill and clarity. Other times it was pure luck. But despite openly admitting to the crowd that he hadn’t studied any of the vocab terms, Aqui managed to become one of the final three spellers before he had to “go do the news,” and finally got knocked out of the contest – not bad for a guy who, “didn’t study.” But what can we say, the man’s got humility. Nicely done, Reggie.
We would be remiss not to mention the fashion show that occurred somewhere between the countless, “I didn’t study” confessions and friendly trash talk. After having spelled a word correctly, Kodi Sawayer – world famous super model – gave the crowd a little taste of her “everyday,” and showed off her dress in a dazzling twirl that made its sparking strands spin like a merry-go-round. The move wasn’t lost on Tim Euhus, who then asked fan favorite, Trailblazer’s rookie C. J. McCollum to similarly strut his stuff. In no time, C. J. confidently graced the crowd with a Trailblazer booty tooch.
But don’t let all the glitz and glam fool you. It was a ruthless spelling challenge. Right from the get go, the Moderators – Mary McDonald-Lewis & Pat Janowski – meant business, challenging spellers with words such as “Kavya” and “Piazza” (no, not Pizza), “pee.AZ.uh.” And that was just the beginner words. In fact, words were so stiff, seasoned veteran of the Bee John Erikson even commented to the moderators, “You’re really trying to thin out the heard fast, aren’t ya?” But despite fierce terms like “jipijapa,” “sarsaparilla,” and “bobbejaan,” and equally solid competition, Zia McCabe answered the call, and reclaimed her title as Champion of the Celebrity Spelling Bee (or as we like to call it, “The Bees Knees”).
Okay, so those were the highlights. Elsewhere, guests enjoyed the silent auction, cocktails, and Pencil Pete’s Spelling Challenge. They listened to live music from the Lincoln High School Jazz Ensemble, and sat down to a gourmet dinner in the Grand Ballroom. They were able to bid on people – yes, people – during our save a speller “Word Nerd” live auction, double their giving impact in a special appeal paddle raise, and were finally serenaded by the Madison High School Drum Line closing the event.
It was truly an amazing night. And in the end, we raised $230,000 in vital funds that will help us stock our Free Store for Teachers, and ensure that every child in our community has the tools they need to succeed. For this, we have only our terrific participants and sponsors to thank. To OnPoint Community Credit Union, Comcast, Washman, Vista Market Intelligence, PEMCO Insurance, and NW West Natural, as well as K103, Portland Monthly, and KGW NewsChannel 8 serving as our media sponsors; this was all possible because of you. Simply put, thank you.