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This Is Why I Will Happily Compete in Book Drive for Kids’ Adult Spelling Bee Every Year

By March 15, 2023September 27th, 2023Fundraising, Spelling Bee

This Is Why I Will Happily Compete in Book Drive for Kids’ Adult Spelling Bee Every Year

By Steve Gamel

I must admit I was a little apprehensive when Book Drive for Kids’ Co-Founder and Executive Director Michelle Cook asked me if I’d compete in their inaugural Adult Spelling Bee on March 4. Don’t get me wrong; I am all about stepping up for a local charity — especially if that charity’s mission is to get books into the hearts and homes of needy children. 

Not to mention, I’m a writer and editor by trade! Independent reading … writing … grammar … spelling … literacy … these are my JAM.

But competing in a spelling bee?! Standing in front of all those people — most of whom know what I do for a living? That’s pressure — even for an Uber-competitive person like me. I don’t think I’ve been in a spelling bee since the 3rd grade, but like most people I know in this community, it’s really hard to say “no” to Michelle. She and fellow BDK co-founder Nicol Klingenstein are the sweetest people. They’re in this for the right reasons, and as I learned about their history, mission, and plans for the future, saying “yes” was a no-brainer. 

Full disclosure: My team didn’t win. 

Also, full disclosure: I spelled all my words correctly!

But I’m here to tell you that I will absolutely do this again next year — and the year after that, and the year after that, and so on.

Why? Because it doesn’t matter who wins an adult spelling bee. Sure, it was fun getting up there and watching everyone (myself included) spell words like acquiesce, inexhaustible, amphibious, cinnamon, archaic, remembrance, etc., off the top of their heads. But the real winners from an event like that are the kids. The event hauled in $13,900, including a $3,500 grant from the Elk’s National Foundation. That’s huge, as the money raised will support future free book fairs and other initiatives. The organization has interacted with nearly 20,000 children at free book fairs this school year alone. Since 2017, they’ve donated over 150,000 books to nearly 66,000 students at nearly 100 events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and their reach extends to places like Austin, Houston, and South Texas.

I could tell immediately that all 120 people in attendance that night at Elk’s Lodge in Grapevine believed in what Book Drive for Kids was doing. And just like me, they’ll be back — and they’ll bring more friends, too.

So, Who Won the Adult Spelling Bee?

The adult spelling bee pitted six sponsored teams of three against each other for the championship and other top honors. There were two flights, with the winning team from each flight squaring off in the title round later that evening. 

When the dust settled, Spelling Bee Bee 556 (Lois Kim, Mike Kirkpatrick, and Jessie Nair) won the event after narrowly edging the Hip-Bees (Lanette Frost, Melissa Cheshier, and Ashley Williams) in the finals. Third place went to Highway to Spell (Steve Gamel, Crystal Foster, and Buddy Bonner), which won the “Most Fans” award. The Gatsby Grammarians (Sydney Stauffer, Brad Deitzen, and Äugenae Davenport) won the “Best Costume” award.

Team sponsors included BbK Services 556, Regions Bank, Mantiki Solutions, LLC, ResponsiveEd, Swag Angels, and Puro Clean.

Look Out for Information on Next Year’s Event!

If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year, the good news is that Book Drive for Kids is already working on a follow-up event for next year.  I even joked with Michelle at a meeting a few days later that she may need to find a bigger venue in the years to come — to which we both said, “That would be a great problem to have.” As usual, the stakes next year will be higher, the laughs will be side-splitting, and the opportunity to get more books into kids’ hands in Denton County and beyond will be plentiful.

Thanks for reading!

For more information, including ways to donate, volunteer, or participate in next year’s adult spelling bee, visit