TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The stage looked more like a Halloween costume contest than an adult literacy fundraiser, but that’s nothing new to the Literacy Council of Tyler (LCOT), or the enthusiastic group of competitors who turn out every year to participate in an annual corporate spelling bee competition.
“It’s a fun event, we have a good time and it’s a good cause,” said Dylan Thomas, part of the “Guess Who” team of Henry & Peters. “The literacy council is a great community organization, we like to support them and its fun.”
The spelling bee is the primary fundraising event the Literacy Council of Tyler holds each year. This year’s bee was held at CrossWalk Conference Center at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler.
“We’re really excited to be a part of it because we believe in the mission of the literacy council — educating those in the community,” said Tom Prothro, managing partner of Prothro, Wilhelmi & Company. “This is their main fundraiser of the year, so we enjoy participating and trying to win that spirit stick every year.”
Every year, the competition has a theme - this year’s was board games - and participants are encouraged to wear over-the-top costumes while attempting to spell words someone more than likely thumbed through a dictionary to find.
“We really are excited about this year’s theme, and I think it’s going to give our competitors an extra challenge to outdo their creativity from the previous years,” LCOT Executive Director Nancy Crawford said. “This event is truly made by them teams and sponsors who come year after year, dressed to impress and ready to compete."
“It’s really unbelievable. we really probably couldn’t put an actual value on it, because without it we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” said Zoe Lawhorn, director of development for LCOT. “As you can see from the excitement and the participation, the teams and the sponsors that are here.... they’re really invested in the event.”
The Literacy Council of Tyler provides free adult education, including GED programs, English as a second language (ESL) courses, and courses in basic adult literacy. Through the spelling bee, the Literacy Council raises enough money for at least 95 adults to go through its program.
One thing Lawhorn hoped many people considered when they think about the Literacy Council and what it provides the community is that every family’s future relies on the success of the parents. Without education, it’s hard to advance in many career fields.
“Many times, the limits of your success depends on your education level. It’s very hard to be promoted or advance throughout your career without the right education background," Lawhorn explained. “So we know not only can the parents advance and have a more successful future, they provide that financial security to their children.”
Team rosters included teams from Prothro Wilhelmi & Co., Tyler Junior College, Tyler Morning Telegraph, Ingersoll Rand/Train, Squyres Johnson Squyres, CPA, Express Employment Professionals, Tyler Pipe Co., South Tyler Rotary, Austin Bank, Gollob Morgan Peddy, P.C., Henry & Peters, P.C., and Texas Bank and Trust.
Tyler Morning Telegraph took first place after a rousing finish against Ingersoll Rand/Trane, which we’re told needed multiple extra rounds.
However, Ingersoll Rand/Trane didn’t walk away from the event empty-handed; the company took first place in Costume Design alongside Henry & Peters accounting firm.
Prothro, Wilhelmi & Co., and Tyler Junior College also shared the spoils in the Spirit category.